Step 1: What are you storing?

Decide what you want to store. We wanted to store clothes, as we're in a turn-of-the-century apartment and our closet space is at a premium. The gas pipe closet gives us a little more room for the things we use every day (and it keeps our clothes off the floor). Currently we have two dressers that are only about 3.5 feet tall, so we are losing a ton of vertical space with the high ceilings. When deciding on how to design the closet, we kept in mind what we planned to store.

  • Place to hang shirts and 3 to 4 jackets
  • Baskets for socks and you know, unmentionables
  • Shelves for folded shirts
  • A place for accessories: watches, jewelry, hats, a belt or two

Step 2: Measure your storage space

Measure your space. This is not a one size fits all project, so you'll need to measure and design for your specific space. We had two 3' wide x 8.5' tall x 12" deep spaces to work with. You also need to measure your components. Are you using baskets? What is the width of your hangers? These components matter in the overall design of the closet. Additionally, we decided to bring the shelf six inches off the wall. We plan to run some electrical through the pipes and allow light to drape down the back side of the shelf. Another project for another time!

pipe closet

Step 3: Design your storage space

Get inspired and scope out a design. We found our inspiration here, here, and here. Oh! And for later, here.

plan for gas pipe closet

We recommend you draw out your design. You don't need to be an artist, but it really helps to visualize the project, imagining how all the pieces work together, and you're less likely to miss any materials.

Note: When you are creating your measurements, know that each T adds about 1 and 1/2 inches to the length of any pipe it connects. We missed this in our original measurements, and it made for one topsy turvy shelving unit. Spare yourself the time, and the headache, and add the extra inches to your measurements.

Step 4: Gather your materials 

This material list provided will create one wardrobe. Some of these items require a special order, so it is best to plan ahead and allow 7 to 10 days to order your piping. We were able to find all we needed at local Dunn Lumber stores, but we took all they had! We suggest including a visit to your nearest lumber yard in the planning phase.

We picked out Doug Fir because we liked the grain and color and it is a bit cheaper than Maple. The Maple was a heavier and stronger wood, but we still achieve the look we're going for with the Douglas Fir. We decided on the Early American stain by Daly, and we really, really love the final product. We chose the 1/2in black gas pipe. It's the perfect size for hangers!

industrial pipe closet

This was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of Dunn Lumber's $40 flat local delivery. For a very reasonable cost we had all of our lumber delivered to our doorstep. It saved us time and money since we don't have a vehicle that can accommodate the lumber. This service was invaluable!

Step 5: Clean the gas pipes 

Bring on the prep work! You have to clean the gas pipes. This is more time-consuming than we imagined. Firstly, it's hard to remove the stickers from the pipes. Secondly, the pipes are greased, and you need to remove the grease or it'll get on the clothing or items you plan to store. We used an all purpose cleaner and old rag, but you can use mineral spirits too. Word of warning: mineral spirits are strong, so follow the manufacturer's directions.

pipes for closet

Step 6: Drill holes

Use you spade bit to drill holes into the shelves. Be sure to do this before you sand the shelves, because you'll want to clean up the holes with a piece of sand paper. Also, when you're picking up your materials (or having them delivered) from Dunn Lumber, be sure to ask for 2 to 3 pieces of scrap 2x4s so you can drill into the 2x4 and avoid damaging the shelves (and your floors).

drilling holes for pipe closet

Step 7: Sand

Sand the wood. It's important to sand after you've drilled the holes but before you stain so that you have an even finish. This way you'll avoid sanding down the stain and exposing unfinished wood. Unless, of course, you're going for that specific, antique look. Start by using the 100-grit sandpaper to remove breakage around the edges and eliminate especially rough patches, then use the 150-grit to smooth out the scratches. Finally, use the 220-grit to soften out the rest of the wood.

sanding industrial shelve for closet

Step 8: Stain 

This step is optional, but now is the time to stain the wood. You'll want to let it dry for 24 hours, so bare in mind this project takes 2-3 days. You have to stain the wood first because it gets installed as you assemble the gas pipes. Also optional, but recommended, is a wood conditioner. If you'd like the stain to absorb evenly, you can also use a prestain like Benite. We like the more natural grain to show so decided not to use a prestain.

wood stain for pipe storage

wood stain for closet shelve

Lastly, seal the stain. This also requires 24 hours of dry time. As an additional option you can apply a water based clear coat that will help protect the stain but also your clothes or anything you put on the shelves. It is not likely, but it is possible that the pigment in the stain could stain objects or items that sit on or are placed on the shelf.

spray paint for diy closet shelf

Step 9: Assemble 

Assemble the gas pipes from the bottom up according to your plan. Since these pipes won't be used to transport gas, you can hand-tighten them instead of using a wrench. There will be some give and flexibility between the connections, and the best rule of thumb is to stay consistent. We used gloves to help grip the gas pipes and fittings to tighten as needed.

installing pipe in shelf

gas pipe assembly diy

industrial pipe storage

Step 10: Secure to the wall

Attach your storage solution to the wall. Because we have horse hair plaster, we used 1 3/4" wood screws. If you have plasterboard walls you will need to use an anchor in your wall before putting in any screws. You can always ask a Dunn Lumber employee about what kind of wall you have, and what fasteners to use for your project.

installing pipe storage solution

Because we're attaching the storage unit to the wall for support, and not to bear weight, we didn't drill through the studs but just into the plaster. Position the shelves against the wall and make sure that everything is exactly where it needs to be. With a small drill bit pre-drill through the holes in the flanges and into the wall. Slowly and carefully secure the screws until just tight, and...voila! Your storage solution is complete.

before and after gas pipe closet

diy gas pipe storage solution