If you’re short on cabinet space or are looking for a new way to organize your pots and pans, a pot rack is often a great solution for big and small kitchens alike. And you can hang one yourself using just a few tools and an hour or two of your time.
Pot racks come in many shapes and sizes, so choosing the right one for you is an important first step. Consider the size of your space, the part of the kitchen you want to use, and the number and weight of your pots and pans.
There are racks that include storage on top for lids, which is a good additional space-saving option. For narrow spaces, a single bar with hooks can be hung from the ceiling or from the wall. For a wider footprint, a half circle rack or small rectangular rack can be attached. If you have a larger space to work with, such as above a kitchen island, a round or large rectangular rack will allow access from all sides.
To choose the best option for you, measure the space, and remember that you’ll need to be able to actually reach your pots and lids, so make sure the rack will allow the items to be stored within arms reach.
There are a few methods to locate studs in a ceiling or wall. The most common is a stud finder. These use a magnet to locate nails holding the beams to the rest of the structure of your house, and are the most reliable way to find studs (unless your beams have a large amount of plaster coating on them).
If you don’t have a stud finder, you can measure. House framing is built at either 16- or 24-inch intervals—meaning you should have studs every 16 or 24 inches in your walls. To find a stud in the wall, measure 16 inches from the corner of the room, then look for confirmation in the form of electrical outlets, switches, or other existing shelves. If your house doesn’t match with a 16 in interval, try 24.
Another way to locate studs is with the “knock test.” You can sometimes hear the hollowness between studs by tapping on the wall. The wall near the stud will sound less hollow. You can use this method to confirm the measurement of the studs in your walls and ceilings.
On your ceiling, you’ll need to determine the direction that the studs travel. While wall studs are always vertical, ceiling beams are horizontal, so they can travel front to back or right to left. There are clues in the form of light fixtures or ceiling fans, which need to be attached to a beam. If your fixture is a multiple of 16 or 24 inches from a wall, it’s a good bet there’s a beam there. If there’s not a beam going in that direction, try measuring in the other direction.
Once you’re ready to install your rack, you will need a drill and—if your rack didn’t come with its own hardware—some large eye hooks. To choose eye hooks, check the package for a weight limit on the hardware. For a large rack, each hook should be able to hold 20-50 lbs., depending on how heavy your pots are.
For a drill bit size, check the size of your hardware. If the size isn’t listed on the packaging, you can bring your hardware to the hardware store with you to compare for size. Make sure to choose a drill bit that is meant for drilling into wall board or plaster, depending on what your walls or ceilings are made of, and wood. You will also need a pair of safety glasses to protect your eyes from dust and bits of wood.
Once you’ve got your drill bit and your hardware ready, it’s time to measure the distance between your hooks along the beam you’ve chosen to use. Most pot racks come with a chain they hang from—measure the distance between the chains on the rack to figure out how far apart your chains should go.
To visualize where your rack will fit, you can set it on the counter or floor below where you intend to hang it. Then use a plumb bob or a washer tied to a string to mark where you want to drill your holes. To do this, dangle your plumb bob from the ceiling above your rack, lining the weight up with where the chain is attached to the rack, and make your mark.
Once you’ve made your mark, drill your holes, and screw in your hardware. (Wear safety glasses for this part because drilling while looking up is a great way to get an eye full of sawdust.) If your eye hook is snug, you can put a screwdriver through the eye for leverage to turn it once you get the threads started. Now, you should be ready to hang your rack from your hooks and organize your pots and pans.