Planning & Purchasing Guide
A carefully chosen pot rack is a big space saver and a beautiful addition to your kitchen decor.
-Formula for choosing the right size,
shape, finish and location
-Wall and ceiling considerations for
adequate weight support
-Features to make the most of your
-Things to watch out for during planning
Available in many shapes, sizes and finishes, one is bound to fit your kitchen and your storage needs.
Be Creative. Find a design that not only adds storage, but that also enhances your kitchen. In one of my designs, 12 linear feet of windows, over the sink and counter, were adorned with two 5′ brass hanging bar racks next to each other.
You can use a free-standing rack, if you have the space, or look for places to hang one. Following are some examples for your consideration:
• One or more straight racks against a wall.
• Wall racks that extend out, with storage space above.
• A corner wall rack, with or without a wood or grid rack.
• A rectangular, oblong or straight rack over an island work space.
• A circle or square ceiling rack in front of a window, in a corner or over an island.
• A straight rack hanging in front of a window, or for utensils over a cooking area.
Do It Right. In the long term, it behooves you to do your homework at the beginning. Especially when it comes to the support that is needed to keep your pans aloft. In the above design, the ceiling was strengthened at crucial points to support the extra weight, and the lights were positioned so that the rack did not interfere with counter lighting. The headroom height was adjusted using heavy brass plated steel hooks, appropriately sized for the intended load from the 10′ high ceiling.
Formula for choosing the right size, shape, finish and location
Follow these steps to choose the right size, shape, finish and location of your new pot rack.
1. Get together the following utensils that you own:
• The biggest stock pot,
• The longest handled fry or sauté pan,
• The smallest pan that you regularly use.
And make a cardboard cutout of your largest “dream” pan.
2. Get together all the cooks in the house who will regularly use the kitchen and who must be able to access pans from the rack.
3. Have the cooks hold the assortment of pans at the same hanging level where you want to hang the rack. Hold the pans at the ideal height, an appropriate distance from the top and edge of the counter, and in the direction they should face. Be sure to take the following into account:
• The tallest person’s head clears the longest pan while working at, or bending over, the counter;
• The shortest person can reach the smallest pan;
• Countertop lighting is not hampered by the rack and pots.
If there is a substantial height differential that is preferred by different cooks, plan for the tallest person’s needs for safety’s sake, and buy a quality step stool if warranted. Or compromise with a section where certain pans can be hung at a lower height.
4. Measure the rack space you just designed. Length, width (if applicable), and distance from the pan’s hook (handle end) to the ceiling. Here are some tips.
As the pans are being held up to the imaginary rack, use small pieces of masking tape on the ceiling or wall, to help you measure dimensions and to remember exactly where you’ll be installing it.
From the hanging ring on the pan, the distance to the ceiling consists of:
• The distance the hook extends down from the bottom of the rack;
• The height of the rack up to any hanging rings it may have;
• The hook or chain from the rack to the ceiling hook; and
• The distance the ceiling hook hangs from the ceiling to the hook or chain.
Remember this total distance and specifics for when you’ll choose the right size rack and its components.
5. Get an idea of how many pans you’ll be able to hang by positioning some next to each other. For wall racks, you can position the pans on a table or counter to cover the same space as the rack. Some pots may fit better if turned sideways.
6. Check the ceiling or wall for the location of joists or studs to support the rack. If they’re not where you need them to be, a carpenter can fashion suitable, decorative trim to attach to the joists, and from which trim the rack hangs.
7. Choose a finish. Consider required maintenance, weight and decor.
How much maintenance are you willing to deal with?
• Brushed stainless racks are the easiest to clean, keep clean, and they don’t show scratches from abrasives as much as other racks.
• Bright metal racks, like copper, brass, chrome and stainless, require regular polishing unless they are coated with a clear resin or varnish to protect their surface from scratches, and the copper and brass from tarnishing.
• Wrought iron and hammered steel racks are the most popular, and relatively easy to maintain. Provided the metal doesn’t get deeply scratched, all they’ll need is a little dusting on a regular basis. Deep scratches may require a little touch-up with paint.
• Painted racks will need re-painting over time. Colors other than black show scratches more prominently.
• Resin or varnish coated racks help keep scratches from reaching the metal. Because they are usually clear, scratches are not as visible on these surfaces.
• Anodized metal racks will keep their good looks with minimal care. Spattering grease, however, may discolor them.
• Wood racks generally hold the least load, and maintenance is minimal.
How will a finish fit with, or enhance, the kitchen decor?
• Consider mixing finishes for more stunning effects, such as copper with brass.
• Complement existing contrasts, or make a statement with a highly contrasting finish.
How much weight will it hold?
• The racks that hold the least amount of weight are made of wood, aluminum and other lightweight metals.
• Racks plated with copper, brass and chrome will hold more weight than solid copper or brass racks.
• Heavy solid metals, like iron, steel and stainless steel, will hold the greatest amount of weight.
Wall and ceiling considerations for adequate weight support
Adequate support is crucial for your safety and convenience. Consider how to hang the rack and how it will be supported.
• The rack’s weight should be balanced whenever possible, both for proper support and to keep the rack from swinging as you access the pans. If the rack has multiple chains or other hanging points, hang each from separate hooks, rings or bolts. Before you start, you might make a template to mark the exact hanging points on the ceiling or wall. Be sure to check for adequate support before proceeding with the installation.
• The wall or ceiling must adequately be able to support the weight of the rack and the pans.
Drywall ceilings generally have wood joists, spaced 16″ apart on center in all but the oldest of such ceilings. Find the center of the joist, drill a pilot hole of the recommended size for the screw hooks, and screw the hook until the threads no longer show. Never hang a rack directly from drywall. (If you have metal joists, you must use toggle bolts for proper support.)
Plaster ceilings have thin wooden strips (few have metal) behind the plaster, but these strips may not be strong enough to support a lot of weight. Big wooden joists hold these strips in place, and will hold the weight of your rack. Find their center, pilot, screw and hang as above.
Cement ceilings require a masonry drill bit, and molly bolts made for cement, solid or block. The pilot holes must be exact and the cement must be an appropriate thickness for the molly bolts to handle a heavy load.
Drop ceilings do not provide adequate support, so attach your support hook to the ceiling above the tiles. Use adequately sized chain or bolts to extend the hook or ring below the drop ceiling, where you can then attach the rack.
Walls are usually made of wood, drywall, plaster, cement or brick. Follow the same directions as above for similar construction materials. Brick requires using a masonry drill bit, anchors and a hook, ring or regular head screws or bolts (depending on the weight of the load and the condition of the brick).
Features to make the most of your pot rack
Consider how one or more of the following features, or accessories, might enhance the usefulness of your rack.
• Center Bar – Increases storage space by up to 50%. Can be used for long handled pans; better if the bar is above the level of the rest of the rack.
• Grid – Using “s” shaped hooks, it is convenient for hanging ladles, molds, lids, light pans, etc. Store lids and light pans on top of the grid, too.
• Hooks – Long ones might be useful for lids, or for easier reach of some utensils. Angled hooks can increase the amount of space available by turning the pots 90 degrees to make most pans nest each other. “S” shaped hooks work best with grids; they are easy to move and can hold more diverse shapes of utensils.
Watch Out For…
Things to watch out for during planning
• Cabinet doors can be inconvenient to open if they don’t clear the rack and pots; consider how far the doors open as you plan your space.
• Head room can be inadequate if pans are too long, or if the rack is placed too close to, or in the way of, normal access space; consider the less used locations in your kitchen.
• Stoves can splatter grease on pans and rack, if they are too close; consider an easy-to-clean brushed stainless rack if you need one close to the stove.
• Polishing may be necessary to maintain some shiny metal racks; consider what level of maintenance you’re willing to deal with.
• Height can pose some difficulties if cooks of substantially different heights will be accessing the pans; for safety, consider a height appropriate for the taller person’s head room, buy a good step stool, and hang some utensils that are regularly used by the short person in a dedicated area, using longer or additional hooks to lower their reach.
• Lights can be dimmed substantially if a pot rack comes between the lights and the counter; consider different locations, different designs, and moving/increasing lighting.
• Weight needs to be seriously considered, because a lightweight rack and hardware, or a poor ceiling connection, can only hold so much before giving in to gravity; consider heavier racks and get a secure connection to the wall or ceiling.
Usually, you’ll only have to do the following:
• Dust the rack regularly, and use all the pans so they’ll always stay clean.
• Once in a while, wash the rack with mild soap and water.
With some surfaces, maintenance needs grow with time:
• If the metal tarnishes, move the hooks a bit, now and then, so it will tarnish more evenly. Or take out the polish and go to town. We generally recommend a polish that is based on jeweler’s rouge, like Wenol, which doesn’t scratch. If you’re brave, use a spray varnish specifically made for the metal, and don’t overcoat, or scratches will show more readily on the finish.
• Plated metals generally are very long lasting. Never use abrasives, or you may remove the metal plating.
• Painted racks should be treated like plated metals. To re-finish a damaged spot, sand down, prepare with a metal primer if bare metal shows, and finish with a quality metal paint. Lightly applied varnishes or urethanes can prolong the surface finish.
• Greasy racks need frequent cleaning with strong detergents, and most finishes are not made to withstand these detergents for long before some damage occurs.
• Stainless is easily cleaned, and can withstand strong grease removing detergents without harm. The satin, or brushed, finish doesn’t show abrasive etching nearly as much as a smooth or polished finish.
PLEASE NOTE: If you don’t have experience with support structures, contact a carpenter or builder for advice. This guide is provided as general information only, and is not meant to supersede the product’s instructions for specific directions that might differ.
You will be surprised at the amount of extra room you’ll have in your cabinets after you clear them of all the pots that will fit on your rack. In addition, the ready availability of the pans will make you more likely to use the right size pan (rather than what used to be the most convenient pan at hand), for better results and a more enjoyable cooking experience.