How To Make A Rustic Blanket Ladder For Under $20

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A rustic ladder is a great way to display and store pretty throw blankets.  This tutorial will show you how easy it is to build one yourself for under $20!
Rustic Gallery Wall Above The SofaPin

Hi everyone.  Thank you so much for all of your sweet comments about my New & Improved Gallery Wall in our family room!  As I mentioned in the reveal post, my first attempt at the gallery wall always felt too sparse to me.  After some brainstorming and experimenting, I decided to leave most of the bones of the original gallery and add a few key pieces to it.  And one of those statement pieces that I added is the rustic blanket ladder shelf that you see to the right of the sofa.

A rustic ladder with blankets on it leaning against the wall.Pin

I’ve wanted a ladder for a loooong time, but those bad boys cost way more than I was willing to pay.  The price of authentic wood ladders has skyrocketed – there’s no way am I going to pay $250 for something that I could easily knockoff myself.  I made mine for under $20, not including the cost of paint and stain because I already had those on hand.

I think you’ll find this is a super easy DIY project that you could make in an afternoon (depending upon drying time for the paint & stain).  Below are the supplies that you’ll need to make a 6′ tall, 18″ wide ladder with four rungs.  Of course, you can adjust the amount of lumber you need based on the size ladder that you want to make.

Supply List

2 – 1x2x8 boards – I used cedar instead of pine boards.  The cedar boards are rough on one side, which contributes to the rustic look.

1 – 1x4x8 board – Again, I used cedar.

20 – wood screws



Black paint (any type will do), gray stain, wood colored stain

3 cheap paint brushes

Step 1: Cut the lumber to size

I cut each of the 1x2x8 boards to 72″ long (these will be the sides) and the 1x4x8 board into 18″ long pieces (these will become the rungs).  There are six pieces of 1x4x8 in the below photo, but I wound up only using four of them on the ladder.

Pieces of wood laid out on the floor to make the ladder.Pin

Step 2: Assemble the pieces

Lay the 1x2x8 boards side by side, at 16″ apart, making sure that the top and bottom of the boards lines up.  If you’re using cedar boards, turn them rough side up before assembly.  Determine the location of each rung and attach the rung to each side board using two wood screws.  When attaching the rungs, allow them to hang over the side boards by 1″ on each size.  This will give you an 18″ wide ladder.  Make sure they’re level from side to side or your ladder will wind up being wonky.

Nailing the pieces of wood together to form the ladder.Pin

All assembled and ready for finishing.  You can see that I didn’t get my rungs spaced evenly apart.  That’s ok – this is rustic farmhouse ladder, remember?

The ladder all nailed together leaning against the wall.Pin

Step 3: Paint and stain

To finish the ladder, I used black latex paint (that was leftover from painting the handrails in my foyer), Rust-Oleum Weathered Gray Wood stain and Minwax Wood Finish stain in Special Walnut (leftover from refinishing our floors).

Strategically apply the black paint using a dry-brush method.  To dry-brush, dip the tip of the brush into paint…

A can of black paint and a paint brush dipped into it.Pin

…then wipe most of the paint off on a rag.  Start out with less paint that you think you’ll need because you can always add more.

Brushing off some of the paint onto a cloth.Pin

What do I mean by strategic painting?  Well, I knew that I wanted my DIY ladder to look old, vintage – kind of like it had been sitting in someone’s barn accumulating dirt and grime for years.  I thought about where an old ladder like that would have accumulated the most gunk and look the dirtiest.  I decided that it would be at the top of each rung, where they are attached to the sides, and along the edges of every board.  So, I started off lightly dry-brushing black across the surface of each board.  Then I brushed it along the edges of each board, using slightly firmer pressure.

Painting the wooden ladder.Pin

After dry-brushing, I added a little more paint to my brush and used my finger to flick some black spots onto the boards.  Think about those dark spots (mildew, I guess?) that you see on old, old boards.  Lastly, I started working some of the black paint into the areas where each rung was attached to the sides.  Remember, I want the ladder to look like it has been accumulating gunk for a long time.

Black paint on the ladder very distressed.Pin

Allow the black paint to dry and then apply the gray stain, using the same dry-brush method.  Once the gray stain has dried, apply the wood colored stain.  Make sure you apply the paint and stain to every surface – the front, the sides and the back of the ladder.  Sorry, no pics of these steps!  Here she is all finished.

The distressed painted ladder in the garage leaning against the wall.Pin

See the difference?  What do you think – does it look old now?A picture of the ladder before being painted and an after picture.PinAfter leaving the ladder out in my workshop (aka the garage) for a few days to get rid of the stain odor, she was ready to come inside the house to be dressed!

I filled her up with texture and warmth, aka throws and a couple of scarves!  Plus I draped a couple of diy chunky tassels over the top rung to add some instant personality.  The addition of this little hanging basket was just for good measure.

Scarves and blankets draped on the ladder rungs.Pin

Several of you asked how I made my rustic wooden ladder, so I hope this tutorial helps.  As always, let me know if you have any questions!

The ladder against the wall with the blankets and scarves on it.Pin

Worthing Court BlogPin

How to build a blanket ladder for under $20. #howto #blanketladder #diy #ladder #farmhoue #rustic #cottage #cozy #tutorialPin


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  1. Great idea for my sunroom!!!

    1. Thank you, Sara. Glad I was able to inspire you!

    2. I did make the rustic ladder and am so enjoying it thanks for the idea and have a blessed day

  2. Shirley@Housepitality Designs says:

    Super cute Suzy!!!

    1. Thank you, Shirley. Hope y’all are doing well!

  3. Suzy,
    I love reading your blog and have been following you for quite awhile. You always inspire me and I love your gallery wall. One problem, I like your new heading but it takes up over half the page and I can’t see the pictures. I wonder if this is just on my computer or others having this problem too? It’s very frustrating. Any advice?
    Thanks, Betsy

    1. Hi Betsy. Thank you for letting me know about the problem! The header is supposed to get smaller as you scroll down. Does it do that on your computer?

  4. Yes…it does look old! Love the throws you have on it too….makes the room look very cozy! 😉

  5. Wondering if you sanded just a little so your throws don’t get ruined? Thanks!

    1. Hi Maggie. No, I didn’t do any sanding. The wood is a little rough, so it’s certainly possible that something could get snagged if you dragged it across it. Guess I’ll have to be careful when moving things around!

  6. Hi Suzy – What a great tutorial especially the detail on how to get that old and “gunky” look!! I am so excited to make one. It’s on my “to do” list for THIS week. Fingers crossed!
    Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi MJ. Good luck with your ladder!

  7. Thanks for the tutorial Suzy! I’ve been obsessed with ladders too but I haven’t wanted to pay the prices they charge. I live in an apartment and don’t have a saw. D’ya think Home Depot will cut them for me? Because I absolutely NEED to make one of these. 🙂

    1. Hi Sharon. Home Depot cut down some 10′ lengths of 2″ wide pvc pipe for me (so that I could get them in my car), so I don’t see why they wouldn’t cut down some boards for you. It’s certainly worth asking!

  8. creativejewishmom/sara says:

    Great job! Thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!

  9. Good Afternoon Suzy, What a fabulous idea. I am going to show my husband your post, because I would love a rustic ladder like this to hang my quilts from.
    A brilliant idea, thank you so much for the step by step instructions.
    Best Wishes

    1. Oooh – wish I had some quilts to display! They would look great on a ladder like this!

  10. This is FABULOUS! I love it, and I absolutely love your wall. I want to do this! Would love for you to share over at The DIY Collective this Thursday! We go live at 6am (CST).

  11. I love your rustic ladder! I have seen them used in the bathroom for towels, but it never dawned on me for using one for throws. I have a afghan rack I made years ago that takes up room, I love the idea of using it for throws and my crocheted afghans. Thanks for the tutorial!

    1. Hi Linda. I love the idea of using a ladder to hang towels from. I’ve been thinking about making a mini wall mounted version for one of my bathrooms. Glad you like the tutorial!

  12. I LOVE ladder projects and this is amazing!! Thank you for sharing with OMHG Wonderful Wednesday, co-host Evija x

  13. This is so awesome! Pinned and tweeted. Thanks for sharing this at our party! I always love your amazing creations. I hope to see you next Monday because we love to party with you! Happy Wenesday! Lou Lou Girls

  14. Your ladder turned out beautifully! I always drool a little when I see them in magazines or on Pinterest, but how many people have a perfectly aged ladder laying around? Or $$$ to throw down. Anyway, I’m pinning and FOR SURE making one.

    Also, your living room is amazing! I love all the plaid.

    Stopping by from the Pretty Pintastic Party.

    1. Hi Alex. Hope you’ll find making one of these is a fun as I did. Thank you for stopping by!

  15. Love your ladder, Suzy!! The tip about the black paint is genius, I need to try!!
    Thanks for sharing at #2usestuesday, I chose it as my feature, hope to see you next week!

  16. I love this ladder Suzy! I have been on the hunt for one quite awhile and think I will just make my own now after seeing how easy it was 🙂 I actually like this one more that most of the ones I have seen! Thanks so much for liking it up at the Bewitchin’ Projects Block party last week. I will be sharing it on the Recreated Designs Facebook page this coming Wednesday. Hugs, Lisa

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! I’ve been on the hunt for a vintage ladder for a long time too. They were way more expensive than what I wanted to pay! Thank you for sharing on your FB page too!

  17. Great ladder! Love how it looks along that wall!

  18. LOVE this idea!!! Thanks for linking up to Link Party Palooza!!! I am glad to have found your blog- it is beautiful! Have a great weekend!

  19. Quinn Caudill says:

    Very coo DIY. Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday. Can’t wait to see what you bring to the party this Thursday at 7:00.