Create a Cheap DIY Pergola With an Old Bunk Bed Ladder

by Lizzi
9 Materials
1 Hour

I have an old bunk bed ladder that has had quite a few lives while I’ve owned it. It’s gone from being a bunk bed ladder, to an herb drying rack, and now I was looking for one more way to put it to use before I had to throw it out. This ladder pergola was the perfect fit for my old ladder. Pergolas can be quite expensive, costing hundreds of dollars, but this project cost me under $50! It provides the perfect amount of shade for me in the mornings when I let my dogs out into the yard and I love how it has added a touch of decor to my home’s exterior. Learn how I did it in my step-by-step tutorial below!

Tools and Materials:

Tools and Materials:

  • Tape measure
  • Ladder (I used an old bunk bed ladder)
  • Lumber
  • Drill and electric screwdriver
  • Screws
  • 2 brackets
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Faux vines
Prep the Ladder

I started by measuring my door frame. I needed to know the proper width of the door frame to know how large I needed my ladder to be. 

Prep the Ladder

Once I measured the door frame I realized that I needed to add a few rungs to my ladder to make it fit properly. I wanted the hanging brackets to land right where the rungs were so I added a bit of wood to each end of the ladder.

Add a Rung

Screw in Place

I screwed them into place and then I sanded the areas I had drilled into to make sure that there weren’t any lingering splinters.

DIY Ladder Pergola


Now I was ready to paint the ladder. I’m using the same color that I used to stain my back porch, so this pergola will fit in nicely with the rest of my home’s exterior. Make sure that whatever paint you use is rated for outdoor use and will stand up to the elements. I painted both the ladder and the brackets in the same color and left them to dry. 

Install the Brackets
Install the Brackets

I installed my brackets directly into my wooden doorframe. Make sure that they are flush with the top of the door frame so that the pergola at least looks level, even if your house is not. 

Install the Pergola
Install the Pergola

Next I lay the ladder on top of the brackets and added quite a few screws, from both above and below the brackets, to make sure that it was securely hung. 

Add Plants
Add Plants

If you have the time and patience, with an emphasis on patience, you can grow a vining plant near your pergola and train it to grow and vine onto it. In the interest of time and effort, I chose to add some faux vining plants to mine. I hung the vines and ran them over and under the rungs of the ladder until I was happy with how it looked.

Cheap DIY Pergola

Now I have the perfect shady spot to stand while I drink my morning coffee and let my pups out to potty! How would you customize your DIY ladder pergola? Let me know in the comments below!

Resources for this project:
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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 4 questions
  • Loretta Champagne Loretta Champagne on Apr 02, 2021

    I love this. How about planting a vining plant and watching it grow while you enjoy the faux vines with your coffee? Then incorporate them when they reach the right height. Living in Alaska, I use faux blended with real all the time, including flowering vines, especially during winter. Good job gal!

  • Annie Doherty Annie Doherty on Apr 04, 2021

    I love what you created, great job. How about putting a string of solar lights along your pergola? ❤️

  • Nicky Nicky on Apr 07, 2021

    Just beautiful and great idea. Wood is getting so expensive these days, and I happen to have a bunk bed ladder....imagine that. I also wanted to add that, you have a way of explaining and showing things clearly. Thanks for sharing

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2 of 125 comments
  • PAMELA PAMELA on Sep 28, 2022

    This is a super idea, and the ladder is repurposed...LOVE IT..BRAVO!!

  • Reland Reland on Dec 29, 2022

    Brilliantly done!👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 I hope to find one (or more) of these at garage/ yard sales this spring so I can do the same to our back door. Mine, however, is not ground level so I’d probably add 2 tall posts to it. I’d use some faux whisteria awaiting the passion flower vine to take over. Passionflower smells divine in the summertime early evening. Your presentation was good and clear, thank you.