We took it on – How to Build a DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet. We conquered.
I get to share with you my experiences with top tips and tricks for designing and then building your dream industrial pipe walk-in closet.
Before we begin I have a confession. I had the blog post written in my brain. It went something like this: “If you are thinking about making a DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet – don’t! Walk away! Shove the idea into the corner reaches of the brain where the synapses will never reach.”
Now that the project is done, I am singing a different tune. You see, we love it. We love it.
Other parts of our home have an industrial influence, so it only made sense to add a bit of the same style in our master closet.
What did the room used to be? Let me share some before pictures.
The room was a little bit of a hot mess. It had a stuffed bookshelf on one wall. Another wall contained a built in closet that I believe dates back to the 60’s. The final wall was a purchased armoire, a treadmill, a file cabinet and a printer. This is a room off our master bedroom, and it leads into our master bath.
It is a nice sized room – 114″ x 130″-ish. I knew it had a lot of potential. I told my husband if we could do this closet remodel it would cover gift giving for Christmas, our anniversary and my birthday, which all collide within a month of each other.
It ended up costing more than I imagined, so we will see if I need to include next year’s celebrations as well.
Note: You think this is a DIY project with pipes so it will be inexpensive. It’s not – especially with a room our size. Flanges alone threw us for a loop. We needed to purchase a total of 148 floor flanges (3/4″ black iron flanges). If we went with your typical hardware store, it would cost $4.30 a pop. That is over $640 just in flanges. We found a plumbing place who could order them for us in bulk, which did greatly reduce the price.
How to Build a DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet
Choose Your DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet Style
The way we saw it, we could mimic one of two designs we found online. You will actually want to check out those other tutorials if you are planning to dive in to this project. The more heads together on this one, the better.
The style we chose was based on look we found at Domestiphobia. We liked the look of the one pipe looking like it was extended from the ground to the 90 degree bend toward the ceiling, and we thought it seemed more feasible and less expensive to pull off.
The style that is a great design but we ultimately rejected was the style found at DIY Diva. It is beautiful but appeared more involved.
While many of the designs we saw went with 12″ shelving for the design, we went with 16″ boards, and we are glad we did. The purpose of the wider board is so that the clothing, shoes and any boxes you choose to buy fit completely rather than hanging over the edge.
It is important to buy 16″ boards like this. Dimensional lumber will cup in the middle, so it’s important to buy edge-glued panels. 12″ shelving would have been more convenient in ways, but we definitely are glad we decided on the wider shelves.
For the pipes we chose 3/4″ black iron pipe. We bought T’s, nipples, 90 degrees and flanges that were 3/4″ inch as well. We wanted to keep a raw looked rather than doing primer and paint. Therefore, the only coat we had to do on the pipes (after washing) was a lacquer.
Draw Your Plans for the DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet
You will want to make a plan before you get started. I’ll give you a peek into our plans. I first made a really rough sketch up of the main idea, and then we started designing it for the exact dimensions of our room. I’ll give you a peek into our design process. Each drawing will be accompanied by the final view of each wall.
Note: The wall above we did slightly different than our plans.
One of the first steps was to determine the height of each shelf going up the wall and then the total height of the unit based on the height of our room.
We wanted the shelving heights consistent going around the room. How did I determine the various heights of shelves? I measured the different heights of the things I wanted to store, including shoes, boots, hats, necklace holder, boxes, books, etc. These heights determined the varying heights of the shelves.
NOTE: THINGS WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH EASIER IF I HAD DONE MORE STANDARD SIZEd PIPES. IF WE NEEDED TO GET MORE, WE COULD JUST HEAD TO THE HARDWARE STORE RATHER THAN NEEDING A CUSTOM CUT. SOME CUSTOM CUTS ARE INEVITABLE WITH A CLOSET OF THIS NATURE, BUT A MORE STANDARD PIPE FOR A MAJORITY OF THE SHELVING WOULD HAVE BEEN EASIER. I DO LIKE THAT EVERYTHING SEEMED TO HAVE A PLACE AND FIT LIKE I WANTED.
When determining the height of each shelf, we had to consider the total height when the flange, pipe, flange combo were all put together. Of course this varied when adding on a T or 90 degree fitting. You can see how we figured the total height in the first drawing. We discovered that each flange added 0.25″ while each of our shelves added 0.75″.
Note: Make sure you are paying attention to outlets and where they need to land in between shelves when determining your heights. Also consider any base trim, door trim and molding in the room.
After determining the design and height, we needed to take note of how many we needed of each part. We wrote it out per page and then did a master list of all parts needed.
Other people noted that they needed to head back to the hardware store over and over. We had to return a couple of times. Inevitably we missed something.
One of the things I missed when totaling all the parts was the pipe that would create the distance from the wall to the 90 degree at the top of that unit.
You want to have that pipe the right length so that the flange and pipe land directly in the center of your boards. We fudged this a bit so we could have a more standard size pipe, and it worked fine. Don’t forget to calculate what is added with a 90 degree and flange.
My husband calculated all of the boards needed and the most efficient way to cut them to maximize the usage on the varying lengths. Go, Honey! It was perfect.
How to Build a DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet
Prepare the Pipes DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet
Washing pipes was something I didn’t anticipate. We had almost 200 parts, and I had to wash, by hand, every single one. You see, they come greasy.
I lined my bathtub with a rubber mat – like a yoga mat – to protect it. I filled the tub with Dawn dish soup to cut the grease. Then, I set to work. My back was not happy, and it took quite a long time to accomplish this.
The next step with the pipes was to spray that with a protective lacquer. We used Sherwin Williams stain lacquer.
Before spraying we pieced everything we could together so we were spraying the pipe sets, which kind of looked like dumbbells.
We are blessed to have an uncle with a painting business, so we were able to head to his shop and spray the items there and allow them to dry.
Prepare the Wood for Your DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet
The next step is to cut, sand and stain your wood. Again we chose 16″ wood like this that would not bow like other options. Stain preference will be individual, and you should test a spot before you set to staining all the boards.
We were again thankful for our uncle’s shop that could make staining the boards easier.
Build Your DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-In Closet
One helpful hint when building your DIY industrial pipe walk-in closet is to build yourself a template that will show where your flanges will attach to your board. This makes your work easier and more consistent. Here’s a picture of ours:
Start from the bottom up, using a level throughout the whole process. Since we live in a 1923 home, this was especially crucial to making sure everything worked and lined up well. I feel like it was a miracle we did get it to work out so well, as we had a continual shelf all along the top.
Up, up, up goes your design until you have exactly what you had dreamed up – a beautiful DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-in Closet.
What Does an DIY Industrial Pipe Walk-in Closet Look Like Filled with Clothes?
I’m so glad you asked. For me, I love to have my clothes colored coordinated. I also am a stickler for matching hangers. I love grippy hangers like this.
When it is all said an done, here is what the closet looks like filled:
These boxes are from IKEA. Here’s a free template for the labels on the IKEA Kvarnvik boxes.
Phew! We made it.
When we bought this house, we thought we were basically buying land. It started out so rough around the edges that the thought was we’d eventually tear it down and build something.
However, we have been step-by-step making it our own and making it work for us ever since we moved in 13 years ago.
We’ve remodeled and redecorated. I haven’t shared much of this with you…yet. The goal is that this is the first peek into our before and after home renovation choices.