How To Get A Bargain DIY Library Ladder Kit

Happy new year everyone! Before I go headlong into my usual ramblings and segues, if you’ve popped on just to find out about my DIY library ladder, then hello and welcome – I’m not offended that you don’t want to read my witty repartee, no honestly, please don’t worry about anybody but yourself. Joking! Just scroll on down a few paragraphs and you’ll find what you need. If you’ve got a little more time today, I just wanted to tell you a little more about the end of last year first and get you up to speed.

What a year!

Lordy goodness that year went fast didn’t it? One minute I was scared witless to the point of peeing myself, holding on for dear life to four flights of slippery scaffolding pole (still petrified of heights btw and no, holding onto a large greasy pole did not make it better, just as much as jumping out of an aeroplane wouldn’t make it better! Who are these deranged people that subsequently conquer their fear after hurling themselves into the lofty depths of thin air at 10,000 feet? Never going to happen, never EVER! Kate, if you’re reading this, get that idea out of your head right away!), the next I was gracefully faffing around with jolly eucalyptus twigs and jingly cow bells. My life is a veritable kaleidoscope of extremities and that’s the way I like it, Aha Aha!

So, apologies as it’s been a good few months since my last post on here, so I thought it was about time I returned to furnish your inbox with my presence. The last few months of 2022 were insanely busy with renovations in our home. There was a mad race to get the kitchen/diner, the orangery (yes, it bloody is an orangery!) and one of the loft bedrooms finished in time for Christmas, as we had guests arriving from America.

These weren’t any old guests either. These are friends we have had for 18 years and we love them dearly. Although, high maintenance does not even come close to describing them. No, honestly, they are lovely really and two of our greatest friends. But, they are used to a certain kind of lifestyle, let’s leave it there! Thankfully, everything got done and we had the best time. Hope you did too you lovely lot.

Promise I’ll get to the DIY library ladder bit in a minute…

So much happened last year. At times I found it so difficult to keep up with ensuring that I was telling everyone on here and on Instagram about what was going on. Needless to say, a huge amount of info has not been relayed to you. There’s so much I want to show you, like what’s inside my drawers ( you saucy devils) and my new kitchen cupboards and where I sourced everything. I want to show you my pantry of dreams (well, actually it’s not my pantry of dreams, that’s a tad overboard JP, but it’s a very nice pantry none the less) and some of the nightmare, roller coaster crazy moments that we went through.

Over the coming weeks I’d like to share all that with you and more. I’m very much hoping 2023 is a much calmer year than last. Although, I still want it to be just as exciting. Don’t want much do I? There’s far less to do in the house and garden now, so that means there is more time for me to write and chat to you lot. Which, is what I love doing the most.

I’m actually quite astonished at how much we achieved last year. I wrote a blog post about what I wanted to achieve in 2022. We pretty much ticked off everything on the list. I honestly thought we’d get about half of it done. The list was lengthy by the way! So, I’m going to pat myself on the back for once. So often we take it for granted how much we’ve achieved, don’t you think?

Ok, here’s the DIY library ladder info…

I don’t know about you, but I have always dreamt of having a kitchen with top glass cupboards and a library ladder and rail to be able to access them. I’d seen them plenty of times in American east coast homes. If you’ve followed me for a while, then you’ll know I have a penchant for traditional weatherboard houses and their traditional shaker kitchens.

When I first started looking into library ladders for our kitchen I was astonished at the cost. Some companies were charging in excess of £2.5k! For a ladder and a rail? No way! There must be some mistake. Alas, no. It seems it’s a bit of a monopoly and they can charge whatever they like.

The results of my research

So, I started researching the components to make my own DIY library ladder. You can buy rolling kits on Etsy for less than £300 for a 16ft kit, so surely the hugely exaggerated costs of the other companies can’t be in the pole, or the ladder, surely?

We didn’t need ours to roll, as most of the time the ladder would be in its cubby hole by the side of the tall units. So, that immediately cut the cost a lot and meant that I could start looking at curtain pole and hand rail companies, which sold the components for a rail individually.

I bought a mezzanine ladder from BPS Access Solutions – then I cut it down to size. It’s already angled at 70 degrees for the perfect fit. It came with cutting instructions to guide you. We needed eight treads and I think it arrived with twelve. I stained it down to the colour we wanted using leftover dark Jacobean Oak stain and a clear varnish. This company also sells them in a white or black finish too if you prefer that.

Lengthy poles…

I then bought 2 lengths of 25mm hollow unlacquered brass pole from House of Brass – – I called and ordered as they can cut the lengths to the size you need. I used five of their solid unlacquered brass open brackets, with one to hide the join of the two poles. We then used two of their brass end caps. Everything must be unlacquered, otherwise the ageing process won’t work. You could sand the lacquer off, but ain’t nobody got time for that!

I aged the brass to match our beautiful knobs and handles from Hendel & Hendel by buying an ageing solution from Amazon – now this was tricky. Make sure sure buy the one that says brown, not black, or verdigris. You’ve probably seen ageing solutions on Instagram using vinegar and whatnot and then baking the things you are ageing. This might have worked for the smaller components, but I’d have struggled to get a lengthy pole in my oven. Although, it wouldn’t be the first time I’d tried!

Ageing process

You water the ageing solution down ten parts water and one part solution. You supposedly can then either soak the brass components in a bath of the solution, or keep brushing it on. Brushing it on didn’t work very well at all, so I used a plastic container and immersed the smaller components in that for a few seconds each time to check the colour the brass was going until I reached the desired effect.

For the poles which were 2.1m and 2.3m long, I created a bath using a length of gutter and put and end cap on either end. I then placed the gutter on the patio floor, making sure it was secure by using bricks to stop it from rolling. We already had these, but they are relatively inexpensive from hardware stores. Finally, I added the diluted solution to create the ageing bath and placed them in it until they turned the right colour. Make sure you wash the solution off thoroughly afterwards, otherwise it will keep reacting with the metal.

The ladder came with two black rubber feet to stop it scratching your floor and also two hooks, but they were stainless steel. So, I ordered two brass hooks from House of brass to finish it off. All in all the whole project cost just under £600. Absolute bargain!

So, there you have it. I hope that this proves useful and at least saves you time having to research everything. I’d love to see your DIY library ladders when they’re done! Until next time, thank you for reading and well done if you managed to get to the end of this post!

JP Clark signature

If you liked this, why not read: Is Dark Wood Back In Style? The Great Mahogany Comeback!

A DIY library ladder and rail used in a kitchen
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  1. Anne Andrews
    January 15, 2023 / 11:13 am

    Brilliant article. You certainly aced the ladder. Well done. House is amazing.

  2. Lynne Reilly
    January 15, 2023 / 9:11 pm

    Fabulous blog post JP. Looking back at all the photos you have done a fantastic job on both the Harbour deck house & your gothic dream & what an amount of work you & Mr C have achieved. Here’s to a fantastic 2023. Lynne (aka girl who loves grey) xx

    • JP Clark
      January 23, 2023 / 2:27 pm

      Ah Lynne that is so kind. Thank you x

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