Your DIY Guide to Industrial Pipe Shelving

Industrial style is a hot trend in the home design market. While pipes used to be synonymous only with plumbing, they now are the star of the show for chairs, tables, and shelves. We focus on the use of pipes as shelves here to provide you with more space in your man cave, a bookcase that won’t sag, and a creative piece that draws attention. 

Step 1 | Choose The Type Of Pipe

Firstly, decide whether to go PVC or metal for the pipe. You will save moolah when you choose PVC, as we point out here: 

What Kind Of Pipe To Get? Save With PVC:

  1. For a 10-foot length of pipe, you can expect to pay $4-$20 for electrical conduit, copper, steel, or black pipe. 
  2. For PVC pipe, you will only pay about $2 for 10 feet. It is easier on your wallet than metal pipe!
  3. You also save on the joints, which are about $0.50 each for the PVC design. Meanwhile, each flange/fitting for metal pipe is about $2.
  4. Tip: Save even more by buying the PVC joints in bulk. 

For this project, we assume you use the less-expensive PVC option. Here is more about what you can expect to spend and your savings in comparison to a similar shelf for sale in-store or online:

DIY Cost


Retail Cost


Step 2 | Get The Materials & Tools You Need

Industrial Shelves

The retro industrial look will go great with the rest of your manly lair and easily fits into a room of any color palette. You can see how affordable this DIY project is, judging from this list of materials you will need:

Cost Breakdown:

  • 3/4in PVC pipe (about $50, amount varies by project size),
  • “T” PVC joints and elbows (about $100, amount varies by project size),
  • Five 2×10 wood planks ($100),
  • Stain ($15),
  • Sandpaper ($7),
  • Spray primer ($11),
  • Metallic spray paint ($9)

Necessary Tools:

  • Miter saw,
  • Rubber mallet,
  • Drill,
  • 1in Paddle bit,
  • Sander (optional)

Step 3 | Planning. Mapping. Thinking.

The truth is that most of this project is about the preparation. You need to map out a blueprint of what the shelving unit will look like in your man cave. Measure the space where it will go in the room and determine the measurements for all parts of the furniture piece you are about to create.

Don’t rush through this part as you can measure twice but only cut once. You can never be too prepared, isn’t that right?

Decide how many rows and columns you want, as well as the height, width, and depth of the shelves. Tip: Put masking tape on the wall where your shelves will go to visually determine how far apart (and how long) you want them to be:

Building DIY Shelves for the Man Cave

It is helpful to have a blueprint on paper to consult too, making sure you use different symbols to mark the base and joints, with the dimensions written out clearly for you. This paper will serve as your guide!

Step 4 | Sand And Cut The Pipes

Time to sand with super-fine grit sandpaper to scuff the exterior of the PVC pipe. Also, use it on the joints and elbows of the pies.

Next, cut the PVC pipes with a miter saw to the appropriate lengths, consulting your blueprint for the exact measurements.

Step 5 | Prime and Paint

Cover the pipe with a primer. It is much easier to do this step now rather than after the shelving unit is put together. A spray primer works great as it will evenly and quickly coat the PVC. Use a gray color so that adding a top coat after is a cinch.

Once dry, it’s time to paint. Alternatively, you can use a “paint + primer all-in-one” solution. Rust-Oleum’s 12oz Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze is a great choice. 

Use several light coats, rather than one single heavy one so that it does not drip and looks natural. Let the paint dry fully before moving to the next step.

Use common sense and spray the materials outdoors or in a well-ventilated garage, rather than in the home, because of the strong fumes.​

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Step 6 | Cut, Sand, And Stain Wood Planks

You will now need to move to the wood planks, cutting them into the appropriate lengths for your shelves. To make big enough holes in the wood for the PVC to fit through it, use a 1in paddle bit. It’s boring, but it works.

Sand the boards, using sandpaper or a sander. Then use Minwax Interior Wood Stain in Jacobean. This particular shade looks great against the paint + primer product we suggested above when the unit is all done.

Step 7 | Put Together The Shelving Unit

Pipe Shelving Unit for Man Cave

This part is what you’ve been waiting for! Put together the pieces (once the stain is dry, of course), as per your blueprint. If any parts won’t easily fit, use the rubber mallet to get them into place. Heave ho!

Now step back, make sure everything looks great and… you’re done! Assemble the items you want on the shelves, from antiques to photos, books, and plants. This shelving unit mixes modern with​ industrial design in such a distinct way. Plus, you’ve customized it just for your man cave, which makes it all the sweeter!