Google+ Nine Red: DIY Copper Towel Rack

Thursday, December 5, 2013

DIY Copper Towel Rack

Good day! Well we are back to working on the downstairs bathroom again, and things are moving along smoothly.  It’s kind of an awkward space, but we’re trying to give it a lot more personality.  Our goal was to lean towards grays, whites, metals (mainly copper) & wood.  So when it came to dreaming up a towel rack, copper pipe was an almost instant idea:
Isn’t it great? Now, granted, this isn’t the cheapest towel rack out there, but weighing in at roughly $25, it’s not TOO bad either to achieve the look we wanted.  We wanted a long rack, as long as the window, made out of copper pipes.  Seems simple.

Want to make one?  It’s extremely easy.  You've probably already figured out how to make it, but since I hit a few bumps along the way, let me save you the trouble of hitting those bumps yourself.  Let the tutorial begin.
Here’s our before situation:

I’m loving our grays… and that shiny-ness won’t be there as soon as we get rid of that horrible horrible shop light fixture. Horrible.  But let’s pay attention to the window! So when you walk in the bathroom, that tiny window is jammed into the corner. No room to put anything under it without getting in the way of the sink, a towel rack is it’s only hope. We thought making it as wide as the window would  make in not only extremely useful, but interesting.

First thing you wanna do, is go shopping. Copper, is not cheap. But, it’s SO pretty, and my hopes are that eventually after many showers, the copper will turn it’s beautiful green. I have no clue whether it will or not, and I don’t feel like researching it. It’ll just be a nice surprise if it does.

After spending a half an hour brainstorming with a Home Depot associate, this is what we came up with. 90% will be made of copper, but we’re gonna have to spray paint those flanges to match. No biggie.
Acquire these things:
  • 2 Half Inch Floor Flanges – these will connect to our adapters.  Roughly $6 each.
  • 2 Half Inch copper male adapters.  About $1.50 each.
  • 2 Half Inch elbow pieces, copper of course: $.74 each…
  • Copper Pipe, 1/2” x 5’.  This was surprisingly only $7.67
  • Pipe Cutter if you have it, I didn’t, and this one was only $11.
  • E-6000 glue, I already had, and it’s because I don’t want to solder. I’m lazy.
  • 8 screws. Mine were gold colored. Lucky!
  • Copper Spray Paint!
Lil close up there incase you want to see the info on the pipe.
First up, you want to measure how wide your rack will be.  Cutting the pipe is very easy, so it may be best to measure larger so you can trim down to fit. I wasn’t actually too picky about the width, I just didn’t want it wider than the window. I knew I could center it if it was shorter. Anyway, measure your area, and don’t forget that the elbows will add about 3/4” to each side. While you’re in measuring mode, figure out the distance you want it to stick out from the wall, as we’ll be cutting little pipes for this area. I chose 2 inches.
I lined up with the old towel rack to double check. Keep in mind your flange size.  This is really a “try it on” situation, and adjust accordingly.

Measure & make your marks on the copper pipe, and let’s get to cutting. It’s so easy. I promise.
Good work. Now using your pipe cutter: It should have pretty simple directions, but just in-case, you loosen the blade so you can get your pipe in there, then tighten the blade onto it.  Now twist it around, stopping now & then to tighten the blade into the groove you’re creating.  Eventually, it’ll just pop off:
Easy, right? So be sure you’re cutting 3 things. The main width, and 2 equal length pipes for the depth.
Moving on, just try it all on – dress rehearsal.

Everything seem good? If not, make your adjustments.  If it sticks out too far, just trim a little more off the smaller pipes. Mine seems pretty good, so now it was time to paint. Take these flanges outside after a good cleaning:
Since the only thing I needed to paint was flanges, I took this opportunity to explore who else wanted to become copper. And the switch plate & outlets were begging for it.
Hooray, we have copper! Try on the male adapters to see if they need any lubrication.  Sometimes the threads can get a little sticky.  I wiped a lil WD-40 in there to help.  Next, just assemble.
Lovely! Everything fits and looks good. I’m working on the floor in my kitchen, because it was cold out and there was sun when I started. Here’s where you can learn from my mistake, when I first put these together, it seemed like it was going to hold itself together.  As I mounted, it started sliding out, and that’s where the E-6000 comes in. A little dab of that stuff (which glues anything and everything to anything and everything else) on the insides of the pipe connections will keep this puppy sturdy.  I did it once it was already on my wall, I bet it’s easier to do it first. But I’m impatient.
Mounting was simple, 4 standard drywall screws:
Optional: If you  have found that your drywall regularly has things like this pulling out, hold the towel rack up where you want it, mark your holes, & properly install anchors.  If anchors are new to you, it’s pretty simple. Drill small holes to snugly tap the anchors into, hold your towel rack up, and send your screws into the installed anchors. Superman strength.  Consult your hardware professional for more.

Done! A simple, weekend afternoon project.  Great results, not a horrible price tag, and it’s definitely something you don’t see in every home.  What did you think, something you can handle? Of course it is, and hey – no soldering! If you know how to solder & have all the equipment, I bet it would really add to the industrial feel of the rack.  I was out of flux and in for the day, so E-6000 to the rescue.  That stuff is great.

Have a fantastic weekend folks! I meant to post this yesterday, but the internet in our area has decided to leave us this morning… I always feel so disconnected when that happens. Haha… get it…cause... I am...

Leftover things to do in the bathroom:


This post is brought to you in collaboration with Foster Heating
Project tutorial, ideas & opinions are 100% my own.

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  1. I LOVE THIS!! copper looks amazing and i love that it equals the length of the window! :)

  2. We need a towel rack in our master bath. The old one just fell out! I love this idea! Definitely going to put this on the list to try. Great idea to spray paint the pieces that didn't match. I am sharing this on my FB page tomorrow, such a great tutorial Jesse!

  3. Awesome tutorial Jess!! Love the idea and the look. Perfect under that window!! Love, Mom :)

  4. Pipe Racks are really good especially in organizing some stuffs. Bathrooms need a towel rack for towels or even for hanging the clothes.

  5. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing. You made us proud by doing this pipe rack.
    Pipe Rack System Supplies Philippines


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