How to Make a Towel Bar with Pipes

Store more in your bathroom with a dual-purpose DIY shelf and towel bar. This look comes together with some pipe pieces, spray paint, and a block of wood.

Nail the industrial chic look—literally—with this bathroom project. Create an easy DIY bathroom storage unit with metal pipes and a simple wood shelf. Metal pipes are easy to put together at any size to fit your space, and metallic spray paint makes them look glam. Of course, you can opt for a different color of paint to suit your decor, or leave the pipes bare for an urban vibe. A shelf on top can be used for a cute accessory display or for extra towel storage. Here's how to make a pipe towel bar and shelf in five steps.

See more clever ways to display your towels.

What You'll Need

  • Stud finder
  • Sandpaper
  • Gold spray paint
  • 3/4×30-inch nipple with elbows, close (conduit) nipples
  • 2 tees
  • 2 nipples and flanges, 3/4×5-inch 
  • 2 nipples and flanges, 3/4×4-inch
  • Drill
  • 1×10×42-inch board
  • #12 3/4-inch wood screws
  • #12 3-inch wood screws 

Step 1: Find Wall Studs

Before beginning, use a stud finder to verify the wall stud placement is the standard 16 inches apart and adjust the design as necessary. Always double-check stud placement, especially if you live in an older home. You will want both pipe mounts secured to studs for stability, as the pipes are heavy.

Learn how to use a stud finder.

Step 2: Prep the Pipes

Sand, clean, and spray-paint all pipe fittings gold; let dry. Always spray-paint outside or in a well-ventilated area. While spray paint is usually dry to the touch in half an hour, most spray paint needs 3 hours to cure. Refer to your spray paint's instructions to see recommended drying time. Look for a spray paint formulated for use on metal.

Get tips for successful spray painting.

Step 3: Connect Bottom Bar

Flank a long 3/4×30-inch nipple with an elbow, close (conduit) nipple, and tee on each end.

Unfamiliar with plumbing terms? Know which piece goes where:

  • Nipple: Small, straight piece of pipe. A close or conduit nipple is a very short piece meant to attach two other fittings together.
  • Elbow: A bent piece of pipe that forms a corner.
  • Tee: As its name suggests, a tee pipe forms the shape of the letter "T." It has three openings to connect horizontal and vertical pipe segments.
  • Flange: A circular support plate that seals and mounts pipe fittings either to another object or to one another. In this case, flanges connect the wood shelf to the pipes and the unit to the wall.

Step 4: Connect Side Bars

Coming off each tee, add one vertical 3/4×5-inch nipple and flange to support the shelf and one horizontal 3/4×4-inch nipple and flange to secure the shelf to the wall. You will have a total of four nipple-and-flange ends.

Step 5: Attach the Shelf and Mount

Center a 1×10×42-inch board across the ceiling-facing flanges. Attach the board with #12 3/4-inch wood screws. This will be your shelf. Use the longer #12 3-inch wood screws to secure the whole shelf unit to the wall studs you identified earlier. Drill all screws through the openings in each flange.

Try a Lucite towel bar!

Editor's Tip

Mind the details! Spray-paint the screw heads to match the pipes before hanging the shelf for an even and professional finish.

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