How to Transform an Old Ladder Into a Dazzling Chandelier

Joanne Palmisano
Joanne Palmisano

Ever wonder what to do with that old, rickety ladder in the backyard? Joanne Palmisano, DIYer guru and author of two internationally acclaimed books, Salvage Secrets and Salvage Secrets Design & Décor, shows you how to turn an ordinary ladder into an extraordinary chandelier . . .

Lay out your ladder on saw horses to get an idea of what size you want your chandelier.

When you're taking the ladders apart, sometimes the rusty hardware is a little tough to get off, so use a little W-D40 . . . that helps get them loosened up.

Pliers and a screwdriver help, as well.

Using a circular saw (or a hand saw), cut the ladders at the length you want them for the chandelier.

Once I cleaned and dried the ladder, I used a couple of coats of sealer to give it a nice shine as well as help keep the dust down.

Mark where your hooks will be to hang your ladder based on where your studs in the ceiling are (make sure they are placed in a stud or that there is bracing in the ceiling — sheetrock alone won’t hold it up). Then predrill holes for your large hook — make sure the drill bit is smaller than the hook; you want it to be tough to get the hook in because you don’t want it sliding out.

You want to have to use a hammer handle to spin the hook around, making sure it is snug fitting. Make sure that all are facing the direction you want them to be in once you're done.

I left some of the fun hardware on the ladder, and made sure my hooks where facing out on each side.

Make sure you get a strong enough chain. The hardware store can cut it to the length you need.

Hooks in, sealed up, chain cut . . . now you're ready to hang!

Since you used the studs (or bracing in the ceiling) as your marks, you should know where the hooks in the ceiling go to match the hooks on your ladder. Make sure you have a couple people to help hold up the ladder while you place the chain on the hooks. If it is too long, you can keep that look, or get some bolt cutters and cut to size.

Then just drape and weave café lights through your ladder. I used UL Listed plug-in café lights, but you can easily have them converted to be hardwired.

Susan Teare

Design by Joanne Palmisano, Salvage Secrets Design.