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.
||Get together the following utensils that you own:
biggest stock pot,
longest handled fry or sauté pan,
smallest pan that you regularly use.
And make a cardboard cutout of your largest "dream" pan.
||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.
||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:
tallest person's head clears the longest pan while working at, or
bending over, the counter;
shortest person can reach the smallest pan;
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.
||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
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.
||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.
||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.
||Choose a finish. Consider required maintenance, weight and decor.
How much maintenance are you willing to deal with?
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
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?
finishes for more stunning effects, such as copper with brass.
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
Racks plated with
copper, brass and chrome will hold more weight than solid copper or
Heavy solid metals,
like iron, steel and stainless steel, will hold the greatest amount of
Wall and ceiling considerations for adequate weight
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.
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.
Things to watch out for during planning
Watch Out For...
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
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
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
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
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.
To view our selection of Pot Racks, please go to the following page: