This DIY ladder makeover is the perfect hanging solution for guests who stay over in our (multipurpose) guest room. Shirts and dresses can be hung on the hangers and the rungs can be used to drape trousers and tops or even throws and blankets from the bed when those are not in use.
Trawling through eBay one day I came across a photo of the ladder offered up for sale. Well, really it was offered up in exchange for a packet of coffee! I could see that it had been painted a dark green colour but that didn’t put me off at all. I already had in mind how I wanted to transform it.
Once I got home and had a good look at it, I realised there was probably going to be a bit more work involved than I had planned. Where the paint was chipping off I could see at least two more thick layers in gold and red!
Getting rid of that paint was the worst and best part of the job. I basically stripped one side a day so that the stripper could sit thickly on the wood. (This is important because if it’s spread too thinly it just dries out on the wood and doesn’t do its job. You end up having to do it all over again – time wasted!) Wearing rubber gloves to protect my hands, I dabbed the stripper on thickly and evenly on all the up-facing surfaces. An old thick bristled paint brush is perfect for this job. For the last layer, I turned the ladder upside down and slathered on the last of my stripper. I made sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. Each layer was left on overnight. I stripped away the paint the next day before turning the ladder over and applying stripper again.
NOTE: Paint stripper should be used in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhalation of the fumes. I always do this job underneath my carport. I also make sure to put down drop cloths or layers of newspaper to catch the old paint as it’s scraped away.
The stripper causes the paint to bubble up and become loose, making it easy to scrape away with a paint scraper. After scraping away the paint, I washed the whole thing down with water and let it dry. Most of the old paint layers were now gone although here and there I could still see small areas of faint colour. This was ok though, as I still wanted to give the ladder a light sanding with my trusty Bosch sander. This was the best bit! Sanding over the areas where the paint was still visible created a smudged effect. You could still faintly see the colours but they merged with the wood to create a dreamy effect that I absolutely loved.
Making a ‘wash’
Next, I created a ‘Wash’ by mixing a teaspoon of Annie Sloan Chalk paint in ‘old white’ with some water, to a thin runny consistency. Using a large paintbrush, I quickly brushed the wash over the ladder making sure to keep brushing over any paint runs, until I was happy with the coverage.
Once the wash had completely dried, I used a brush to apply a layer of Annie Sloan’s clear wax. This made the wood feel smooth to the touch and gave it a lovely subtle sheen.
Although this project took a lot more elbow grease than I had anticipated it would, for me it was a classic example of one person’s junk being another person’s treasure! I love my DIY ladder makeover and from the reactions of our guests so far, I’m not the only one! What do you think?