I’ve admired the look of iron plumbing pipe floating shelves since I first saw them done on an HGTV show. Honestly, I really like the way iron plumbing pipes look when combined with wood for a variety of furniture projects!
In 2016 we did a fairly large shifting of the way we used several spaces in our home. Our parents are getting older and navigating two flights of stairs to our attic guest suite became more difficult. We live in a traditional-style home with a center foyer flanked by a dining room and living room. My family isn’t a dining room kind of family so we re-purposed that room for our pool table soon after moving in! The living room space has undergone many changes while we’ve lived here. We’ve tried it as a sitting room, a game room, an empty room, and a junk room (ugh). To eliminate the stairs for our guests we decided to turn it into our guest room.
The next step in creating a functional first floor guest area was to add a shower to the powder room. We had planned to turn that room into a full bath eventually so the space was there along with roughed-in plumbing. We contracted that job out to a professional. My husband is VERY handy around the house, but he didn’t want to learn how to do tile in such a prominent area of our home!
Once the shower was complete, it was time to add some decorative touches. AnnMarie and I went shopping to look for shelves but never found anything that I liked. Enter my handy husband. 🙂
This was the perfect time to add some iron plumbing pipe floating shelves to our home! So off we went to our local Lowe’s Home Improvements.
Building our Plumbing Pipe Floating Shelves
We had looked at a lot of ideas on Pinterest but ended up coming up with something unique for our space. I liked the idea of the shelves simply lying on top of the iron plumbing pipes. My husband liked the idea of having a towel bar sort of look under the lowest shelf. He also wanted the bottom shelf to be attached so that it wouldn’t be easily knocked off.
Some instructions have you spray paint the iron fittings, but we didn’t want to lose their color. We really liked the metallic look they had. So instead, we opted to use a spray polyurethane coating to seal and protect them but allow their industrial look to show.
Originally I wanted the wood to overhang the iron plumbing pipes a bit more, but ultimately it was more important to have the floor flanges anchored into studs.
Just a quick brag on how clever my husband is… Do you see that plastic bag taped to the wall? That was to catch any drywall dust from attaching the floor flanges AND to catch a screw or a piece of iron if it happened to fall! I would never think to do that.
We had space for three shelves. We could have possibly fit a fourth if we’d spaced them a bit closer together, but I liked having more blank space between each shelf.
And here’s our finished iron plumbing pipe floating shelves project, all decorated for fall:
What You’ll Need to Build Our Shelves:
- 8 3/4″ black iron floor flanges
- 4 3/4″ black iron cap fittings
- 2 3/4″ black iron T-fittings
- 2 3/4″ 90-degree elbow fittings
- 4 3/4″ x 8″ black iron nipples
- 2 3/4″ x 2″ black iron nipples
- 2 3/4″ x 3″ black iron nipples
- 1 3/4″ x 24″ black iron pipe
- 1 2×8 board, cut into 3 2-foot-long pieces
- wood stain in the color of your choice
- spray polyurethane
- 24 2″ rust-proof screws for the floor flanges that attach to the walls
- 8 3/4″ long screws for the 2 floor flanges that hold the bottom shelf
- Tape Measure
- Screwdriver/Drill Combo
- Brush or cloth to apply stain
Assembling the Shelves
- Clean off all the iron pieces. They tend to have some grease and other dirt on them. I just used dish soap and water.
- Spray the iron fittings with the polyurethane to seal and protect them and let them dry completely.
- Stain your wood according to your stain’s directions to achieve the color you want.
- Once your iron pieces are dry, screw one floor flange and one end cap onto each end of the 4 8″ iron nipples.
- Now, screw one floor flange onto the end of each of the 3″ nipples and the base of the T-joint into the other end. The floor flanges will attach to the underside of your bottom shelf.
- Screw the remaining two floor flanges into the 2″ nipples. Then screw the other side of the 2″ nipple into the back side of the T-joint (see photo).
- Starting with the bottom shelf, try to attach your flanges to studs in the wall. If both flanges can’t attach to studs, be sure at least one side is. Use dry wall anchors for the other side if it isn’t attached to a stud.
- Position your first flange and screw it into place. Be sure to position it so that the 3″ pipe with the attached flange is facing upwards.
- To attach the corresponding flange, hold it up against the wall so that the 3″ pipe with attached flange is facing upwards. Then place one of your boards on top of the two flanges. Then put your level on the board and adjust the height of the bracket you are holding until the board is level. Mark the holes for the flange with your pencil. Then remove the level and remove the board and screw the second bracket into the wall.
- Next, measure where you want the next shelf to go and attach one of the flanges that has an 8″ nipple.
- Repeat the process of holding the corresponding flange bracket to the wall and checking to make it level. Then attach it to the wall.
- Repeat steps 10 and 11 to hang the third shelf.
- Attach one of the elbow joints to the T-joint on the bottom shelf. Attach the 2-foot long pipe to the other elbow joint. Then attach the second elbow joint to the other T-joint and maneuver the pipe into the end of the first elbow joint to create a towel bar.
- Attach the bottom shelf to the upward facing flanges using the 3/4″ wood screws.