Ladder Bookshelf

12 Materials
2 Hours
Ok so I know we've all seen the bookshelves online that people have made from old painter's ladders. I've had my eye on them for years now and have wanted to make one so bad, so I finally did...with the help of Rob of course.  It really wasn't as bad as I had imagined in my mind and I think it came out so cute!
STEP 1: Prep ladder
First, I removed any stickers that were on the ladder. There were two stickers that were essentially baked on and I couldn't pull off--you can attempt to sand them off but I chose to just paint over them.

Once the stickers were removed, I used a piece of sandpaper to knock off any loose paint and smooth out any splinters.
Lastly, because I wasn't crazy about the stickers that wouldn't come off of the ladder, I decided to brush on a white wash on the ladder. I wanted the final look to be artsy and a bit whimsical, and not perfect, so I didn't care that the wood and some of the old paint showed through.
STEP 2: Measure and cut common board for shelves
Next, I measured the piece of common board that I purchased. The dimensions will vary according to the size ladder you have but for my 6' ladder, I made my four shelf sizes as follows: two 18", one 24" and one 31".
After I made the marks on my board with a pencil, I had Rob cut the shelves to size with a chop saw.
STEP 3: Paint and sand shelves
I wanted a fun, pop of color for the shelves so I had Tapestry Red on hand and thought it was the perfect color to run with against the Cozy Cottage white of the ladder frame. I painted one coat on...
...then, I lightly sanded the shelves--paying more attention to the edges--in order to rough the paint up a little so as to give them a worn look.
STEP 4: Assemble shelves
After the shelves were all finished, I used a nail gun to nail down the very top shelf with no assistance. Then, for the remaining shelves, I clamped one side of the shelf down onto each ladder step.
On the other side of the shelf, I took a 1x2 plank and marked it with a pencil on the edge of the ladder. Then, I used a chop saw to cut the mark.
And finally, I used a nail gun to secure the 1x2 planks...
... as well as the tops of the shelves on the edges.
I love how this ladder bookshelf came out! It adds character to our already eclectic home and it ties together with our little china hutch in our kitchen that is also made out of old ladders.
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Frequently asked questions
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  2 questions
  • Whe27843252 Whe27843252 on Aug 09, 2017
    Won't those items on the shelf fall off when you open the door that they are attached to? Why not install a small rail across each shelf?

  • Geena Geena on Aug 09, 2017
    We all want to see the hutch and learn how you made it!! Please!!??!!

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  • Lori Dumm Lori Dumm on Jan 05, 2018
    Hello All so nice I justed wanted you all to know that Goo Goo Gone takes all stickers away You can find it at all Walmarts in the auto departments

    • Melody Boling Medlock Melody Boling Medlock on Apr 15, 2020

      I also picked up a small bottle of Goo Gone at my local Dollar Tree. It has taken every sticker/label off I have tried to remove. You just need to clean the area well before applying paint since it is oily.

  • Melody Boling Medlock Melody Boling Medlock on Apr 15, 2020

    I realize this is an old post but I wanted to thank you for sharing it. I may be late on this project but I am making one myself. It is nice to have step by step instructions to help make my project more effortless. šŸ˜