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Every year, pot racks enjoy more and more popularity among home chefs who want to keep their kitchens better organized by having their cookware within easy reach. Today's racks come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit the varying designs and sizes of all types of kitchens. Whether you have a large space with a modern, open floor plan, or a small kitchenette in a condominium or townhome, there is a style available to suit your space.

Once you've made the decision to add a rack to your home, you may feel overwhelmed at the many choices that there are to make regarding the style and features that will come together to make the perfect model for your home. Because the size of your rack ultimately determines how well it actually fits into your home kitchen, it is often an excellent place to begin your shopping.

We created our Buyers' Guide to Shopping for Pot Racks by Size to help you determine the size that will work best with your available space. Using the easy-to-follow steps in this guide will help you to narrow your focus to only those racks that are of the appropriate size for your home.

Getting Started

Before you can start thinking about the perfect size for your rack, you must first decide whether a hanging style or a wall style will work the best for your needs. Both styles are measured a little differently, so take a few moments to consider the benefits of both types before continuing to read this guide.

When a Hanging Style May Be Best

  • In homes where there is no wall space available, hanging styles are usually a must.

  • If placing a rack on the available wall will require you to change your normal traffic patterns through your kitchen as you work, you may prefer a hanging style that is more centrally located.

  • Home chefs who like to work in one place while preparing a dish often prefer hanging styles to be hung directly over their work area, so they never have to move to retrieve cookware.

When a Wall Style May Be Best

  • In homes with decorative bulkheads, intricate hanging lighting or specialty designs in the ceiling drywall, a wall style is often best as it does not detract from the kitchen decor.

  • Although you can hang a rack from any ceiling, plaster, drop and masonry ceilings require professional assistance or extra labor and often lead homeowners to opt for wall racks instead.

  • If a wall rack will provide a more centrally located spot for your cookware or if you are always on the go in the kitchen, a wall style is often best.

  • Home chefs whose kitchen designs require the piece to be hung above a cooking surface like a stovetop or a grill may opt for wall styles instead to avoid splatters and splashes on their cookware.

The Key to Measuring

Whether you plan to purchase a wall or a hanging style, the key to properly measuring for the piece is keeping installation in mind. To securely install a rack in the wall or the ceiling, you must anchor the piece to a secure, sturdy surface. Simply picking a random spot on your wall or ceiling will likely not lead to a secure enough installation and could cause an accident.

The only way to ensure that your rack is safely installed is to make sure that the piece is anchored into a wall stud or a ceiling joist. These items are the beams that run along the inside of the wall or ceiling and form the actual frame of the room.

Using a Stud Finder

To locate the ceiling joists or wall studs within drywall, you'll need a tool known as a stud finder. You can purchase one at almost any hardware store as well as at many discount department store retailers.

Each stud finder has a slightly different design, but generally, you switch the device on and will see a message on its display screen to tell you that it's ready. Some stud finders also have an indicator noise. Then, you run the stud finder slowly along the wall from right to left. When you have located a stud, the digital screen will display a message and, usually, a red light will shine along the wall or ceiling.

You'll want to mark the location of the stud with a pencil. For wall studs, you'll need to continue moving to the right until you've found all of the studs located within the area where you have empty wall space available. Depending on the direction of your ceiling joists and the location of your rack, you may need to hang your piece on one joist or along two joists.

Other Types of Building Materials

If you have a plaster ceiling or walls, the joists and studs are likely located further back behind the plaster and will not be detectable with a stud, making it necessary to contact a contractor for assistance. Masonry walls and ceilings require special drill bits for installation and generally are best left to the expertise of experienced stonemasons.

In kitchens with drop ceilings, you'll need to shift the ceiling tiles aside to access the true ceiling and locate the studs. Keep in mind that extra chain will be needed to suspend your rack down through the tiles.

Determining the Length: Hanging Styles

Once you have located your ceiling joist, you're ready to determine the length of your rack. If you will only be hanging your rack from one ceiling joist, simply measure the length of the work area over which you want to hang your rack. Then, subtract 12 inches to leave adequate room for safety. You will also this method if you intend to purchase a round rack style that will only hang from one spot.

If your rack will hang between two joists, you'll need to use a measuring tape to determine the distance between them. This will show you how much distance is necessary between the two hanging chains. Then, measure the area below and subtract 12 inches to have a sense of the longest that the rack can be.

Determining the Width: Hanging Styles

The width of your hanging rack will largely be determined by its shape and its length. For example, a circular rack will always have equal lengths and widths. It is important, however, that you keep in mind the safety of your kitchen and confirm that the width of any hanging rack will work in your kitchen.

To determine the maximum safe width for your hanging model, measure the width of the space that is directly beneath it. Then, subtract 12 inches to leave safe clearance around the sides of the rack.

Determining the Length: Wall Styles

After finding the wall studs, you're ready to measure for the length of your wall rack. Using a tape measure, determine the distance from one stud to the other. This will let you know the ideal length of your wall rack.

If you have a large amount of wall space available with several studs located beneath the drywall, you can use your judgment for how much of the space you would like to take up with your rack and then measure the distance between those two studs.

Remember that you should leave 6 inches of space between the frame and any other furniture or a walkway.

Determining the Width: Wall Styles

As with hanging racks, the width is largely determined by the shape of the style. You'll still want to measure the maximum amount of width that is available from your wall to any walkway past the rack. Remember that 30 to 36 inches of space is necessary to have an adequate route through any space.

The Size Categories

Today's manufacturers of hanging and wall racks typically produce the styles in specific lenght and width categories.

Racks typically fall into one of five different categories in terms of their widths:
  • Under 14 inches

  • 14 inches to 17 inches

  • 18 inches to 22 inches

  • 23 inches to 25 inches

  • 26 inches and over

Racks typically fall into one of five different categories in terms of their lengths:
  • Under 25 inches (2 feet or less)

  • 25 inches to 36 inches (3 feet)

  • 37 inches to 48 inches (4 feet)

  • 49 inches to 60 inches (5 feet)

  • 61 inches and over

Beginning to Shop

Before you start to shop for your wall pot rack or hanging pot rack, you'll need to determine the right heights for your space as well. Visit our Buyers' Guide to Hanging Pot Racks or our Buyers' Guide to Wall Styles for step-by-step instructions on how to measure for height. You'll also want to make decisions about the best finish and shape for your decor.