DIY: Turn an old ladder into a pot rack

Fashioned from an old ladder, this whimsical pot rack would make a talking point in any kitchen. Upcycling pro Sacha Olivier reveals how easy it is to make your own


An old wooden ladder, a saw, a drill, sandpaper, paint and a medium-sized paint brush, strong galvanised cable, wire cutters, cable clamps, a spirit level, sturdy ceiling hooks and ‘S’ hooks.


Saw the ladder in half; my ladder was 3m long, so I ended up with two 150cm-long pieces.

Give the half of the ladder that you’ll be upcycling a good brushing with a wire brush to loosen any surface dirt.

Turn the ladder on its side. Drill a hole about 10cm from the end of the upright on each end of the ladder. Turn the ladder over and repeat the process; you’ll need to drill four holes in total. Note: These holes need to be large enough to thread a piece of galvanised cable through in order to hang your pot rack from the ceiling.

Sand the ladder to smooth out any rough spots or edges.

Wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any dust.

You can now stain your ladder, paint it a solid colour or whitewash it like I did. To mix the whitewash, simply water down some white PVA paint. You’re looking for a medium consistency; the mixture should not be too runny or too thick. Apply the whitewash with a medium-sized paint brush and then allow it to dry.


First create a ‘handle’ (loop) on both ends of the ladder. To do this, thread a length of galvanised cable through the two holes you’ve drilled on one end of the ladder and secure the ends together with a cable clamp; then repeat the process on the other end. But before getting started, work out how far from the ceiling you want your pot rack to hang and use wire cutters or a hacksaw to cut two lengths of cable to size, allowing some excess in case you need to make any adjustments.

(TIP: To keep the cable strands neat, wrap the ends with masking tape before cutting.)

Create a ‘handle’ on each end of the ladder as described above; allow a bit of excess cable to extend beyond each clamp in case you need to make any adjustments.

Insert two sturdy ceiling hooks per side into the ceiling, spaced as wide as the ladder. Then hang your pot rack up by its cable ‘handles’. Use a spirit level to check that it’s level.

If it is level, take your pot rack down and use wire cutters to neatly trim off the excess cable extending beyond the clamp on each ‘handle’. If it’s not level, adjust the length of the cable ‘handles’ as necessary.

Position ‘S’ hooks along the length of your pot rack, then hang it back up.

You can now hang your kitchenware from the ‘S’ hooks, taking care to distribute the weight evenly along the length of the rack.

Sacha’s tips

Wondering what to do with the other half of your ladder? As you can get two pot racks out of a single ladder, this is a great project to do with a friend; you can share the work and the costs and each get a custom piece for your kitchen. Alternatively you could paint or stain it, wall mount it in your bathroom and use it as a towel rail.

It’s important to use galvanised cable and ceiling hooks that are sturdy enough to support the weight of your pot rack as well as everything you’ll be hanging from it. Ask an expert at your hardware store for advice on choosing the right materials.