Cinder block shelf design

Cinder block shelf design DEFAULT

DIY Cinder Block Shelves {Perfect for Plants!}

These simple cinder block shelves are so easy to make and are very affordable to boot. If you’re looking for an outdoor plant shelf to display your plants, this is the perfect project for you! 

Every once in a while I do a project that’s so easy and so fast that I debate even sharing it over here. I mean, sometimes the tutorial is so quick that I wonder if it’s even worth it. Will y’all just roll your eyes and tell me you already knew that little trick? Will you think I’ve lost my mind?

Well, this is one of those projects.

But seriously, even when it’s really simple, when it’s this dang cute I’ve just gotta share.

Close up of plants on a shelf with text overlay - "the easiest backyard cinder block plant shelves"

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How to Build Cinder block shelves for plants

Materials Needed:

These DIY plant shelves are so easy to put together and are made of affordable cinder blocks!

  1. Space your cinder blocks about 3-feet apart.

    Start with two cinderblocks and set them upright about 3-feet apart (depending on how large you want your overhang to be). I used a level to help me make sure the boards weren’t offset at all and that they were both sitting straight.

    How to build simple cinderblock shelves to hold your plants. A really quick and simple plant stand idea - perfect for herb gardens, succulents, or whatever plants you need a space for!

  2. Add construction adhesive.

    Apply construction adhesive to the top of each cinder block. Be generous here, you want it to be pretty sturdy!

  3. Add first shelf.

    Cut your cedar board down into two 4-foot boards (I used my miter saw,learn how to use a miter saw here if you aren’t familiar with it) and lay it on top of the cinderblocks. I used the other two cinderblocks as a weight on the first shelf for a couple of hours before adding anything else, just to make sure it was nice and set.

    How to build simple cinderblock shelves to hold your plants. A really quick and simple plant stand idea - perfect for herb gardens, succulents, or whatever plants you need a space for!

  4. Add next level

    Once it’s dried, use some adhesive to add two more cinderblocks, and then the second shelf (again, I used a level here to make sure that everything stayed nice and straight, and I measured the overhangs to ensure that it stayed even on each side).

    How to build simple cinderblock shelves to hold your plants. A really quick and simple plant stand idea - perfect for herb gardens, succulents, or whatever plants you need a space for!

  5. Fill it up!

    Then, all that’s left to do is fill it up with your favorite plants!

I used the plants from our tiered ladder garden for these photos, but we’ll probably be doing something different long-term. I haven’t decided for sure what I want here, but right now I’m leaning towards having a little herb garden and setting it up with some supplies for trimming and watering the plants. We’ll see what happens, though – I may go crazy and just buy a ton of pretty plants just because.

Close up of plants on cinder block shelves
Close up of plants in terra cotta pots
Cinder block shelves with plants

love the look of the simple terra cotta pots with these shelves, but you could also do something a little more colorful. You could even paint the cinder blocks or stain the shelves. There are tons of options for how you make this look, but I was craving something simple and kind of rustic for my yard. I’d love to see a version with really bright blocks and colorful pots, though!

Close up of succulents in terra cotta pots
Succulents on outdoor plant shelf
cinder block shelves with plants next to a fence

Of course, you don’t have to use this for just plants. You could do a larger version and use it as an outdoor serving station or bar cart. You could use it as a potting stand or a place to keep your kids’ toys – really, it would work for just about anything.

But I’m a sucker for a good shelf full of plants.

DIY cinder block shelves
Outdoor cinder block shelves
Succulents on a shelf

I’m pretty infatuated with how this little guy turned out – it was so easy to put together, and it’s such a fun way to display our plants in the backyard. I’ve learned that I’m not awesome with in-ground plants because they tend to just become a part of the background in my mind and I don’t remember to keep up with them. But potted plants seem to be easier for me to maintain, and I do a little better keeping them alive.

For now. We’ll see what happens.

What do you think we should fill our new cinder block shelves with? Herbs? Do they do okay without full sun? Or just some flowers? Or maybe we could go crazy and try some container veggies? Ahh! I don’t know! I’d love to hear your thoughts. What should I do?

More DIY Planter Ideas


Easy-to-Build Modernist Cinder Block Bookshelves… That Actually Look Good

cinder block bookshelves

I’ve been meaning to share photos of my cinder block bookshelves for a long time but I didn’t get around to documenting my design until the very last minute.

This is mostly because the bookshelves were covered with books, vintage Star Wars action figures, liquor, paper and pencils, jars of seeds, baskets, lanterns, assault rifles, etc. etc. etc…

When we emptied out the house in preparation for our move, it was finally time to film a video and take some pictures for you.

Cinder block bookshelves are usually pretty ugly affairs. They often look cheap and chintzy, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I built this concrete block book shelf for less than $100.00:


And I built this second one for my office:


How To Build Cinder Block Bookshelves (The Nice-Looking Way)


The big problem with most cinder block shelves is that the ugly side of the concrete blocks faces outwards. The rough holes in their centers will always look rough and cheap.

Lay them on their sides, however, and the look improves greatly.


All you need for this project are a few easy-to-obtain items and one tool. Two tools, if you decide to paint.


Cinderblocks (as many as desired, both solid half-blocks and full size)

2×8 pine boards

Paint (optional)

Paintbrush (if you decide to paint the blocks)

Miter saw (or a hand saw, if you need a workout)


If you stack two full-size cinder blocks on top of each other, as I do on the bottom shelves of these cinder block book cases, you end up with a 16″ space between shelves. This is bigger than you need for most books but is great for storing boxes or baskets that contain other items.

The block-and-a-half size shelves hold most books nicely.

Single block depth shelves are only 8″ tall and work for storing small paperbacks and CDs/DVDs.

I didn’t let any of the pine boards extend more than 6′ without support, since I believe that’s running a risk of the shelves warping over time.

At 6′ spans I’ve had them hold for years without bending downwards in the slightest, even under the weight of many gardening books and other hardcovers.

I believe I used 10′ boards on the shelf pictured above, then cut the ones that didn’t extend the full width of the shelf with my handy Hitachi miter saw. I love that thing.

You can let some of the shelves only come half way to the front by using just one board instead of two, or you can put two 2x8s side by side for every shelf. I got fancy and even cut little pieces to fit the gaps and make it look neat with insets and changes in how I stacked the blocks, but you don’t have to do that.

On my next homestead I’ll likely do this exact same cinder block bookshelf design again. They work well, save you plenty of cash, plus they’re super stable thanks to their weight.

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We love a good backyard hack–especially one that's simple and affordable. First, there were these super-cool stock tank ideas. And now, people are building innovative and inexpensive outdoor furniture (benches, shelves, tables, and more) out of another unexpected material from your home improvement store: cinder blocks. Originally intended for construction, the hollowed-out concrete blocks have all sorts of other uses, as these clever creations prove.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

1Cinder Block Bench

This has to be the easiest way to build a bench we've ever seen. Just make sure to secure the back rest with concrete glue.

Get the tutorial at

7Cinder Block Bar

This bar is built for outdoor entertaining—literally!

8Cinder Block Fence

Here's a clever (and cheap!) fencing alternative. It could even be temporary or adjustable.

9Cinder Block Kitchen

This one's for the ambitious: an outdoor kitchen made completely of cinder blocks.

10Cinder Block Steps

Why didn't we think of this?

11Cinder Block BBQ Pit

Talk about the ultimate backyard barbecue.

12Cinder Block Fireplace

You'd never know this outdoor fireplace was built out of concrete blocks.

13Cinder Block Kindling Rack

You can even store your firewood in a handy holder like this.

Taysha MurtaughLifestyle EditorTaysha Murtaugh was the Lifestyle Editor at

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DIY Ideas- House Decoration Designs using cinder blocks

DIY Concrete Block Bookshelf

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See how to make a cinder block or concrete paver block bookshelf – a great DIY project for apartment dwellers that can be made to any custom size you like.

DIY concrete block bookshelf

How to make a concrete cinder block bookshelf

This post contains some affiliate links.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

The dilemma:

Two college students in one apartment with no bookshelf in sight leaves for mass chaos.  It all started like this: two law students are capable of doing incredible things to an apartment during final exams.  Everything on the island was from exams, but everything on the table  had managed to find a permanent home there.

I thought I was going to lose my mind among all that clutter.  I began by clearing everything away and moving the table to the opposite wall.  I decided I wanted a shelf on the newly empty wall – a sort of “landing spot” for school supplies and books.

Related: Love the look of paver and cinder blocks? Check out these Creative Cinder Block Projects:

projects to make with cinder blocks
Supply List

I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money, and I was officially cut off from making any more Ikea purchases (“I don’t want our apartment looking like an Ikea catalog.”).

I have seen bookshelves made from cinder blocks, but saw two problems with this approach.  1) Cinder blocks are 16 inches tall.  This is just too big for the kind of shelf I wanted.  2) When I think of cinder block shelves I flash back to college dorm and fraternity rooms.

So, on a cold December day, I wandered the garden department at Home Depot. I found pavers that were about 2x5x8 for the rectangles and 2x4x4 for the squares.  Perfect!

How to make a DIY concrete paver block bookshelf

I had some pine 1x10s cut 40-inches long.  Luckily, we have been blessed with an incredibly warm winter so far in Minnesota.  I was able to stain the wood out on my patio, although I’m sure the neighbors were wondering what this crazy chick was doing.  I’ll admit, my setup was a bit odd.  I thought the white trash bags gave an extra classy touch.

picture 2

I used Minwax Wood Finish in Jacobean 2750 (one coat) and Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane in Clear Satin (two coats).  Just follow the instructions on the can.  This was my first attempt at staining wood, and I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Next came the pavers. I rinsed them off well and let them dry.  Then I began stacking.  I used a ruler to make the pavers they were exactly 2 inches from the edge of the board.

The rectangle pavers went on the first two levels, and the square pavers finished off the third level.  I may still add more square pavers to the top shelf if I want to be able to store textbooks there as well.


Budget Breakdown:

Ultimately, I’m pretty pleased with the end result.  I think the total cost came in somewhere in the $40-45 range, although I could have saved a bundle by going with cinder blocks.

If I decide I need more storage space, I may buy and refinish something bigger, and move this shelf to the patio for gardening.  I have also contemplated painting the pavers.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

 Pin it - Don't Forget itThis concrete block bookshelf that is stylish, inexpensive, and easy to make in an afternoon. It’s a great way to add permanent or temporary storage to any space.

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Shelf design block cinder

How to Decorate Cinder Block Bookcases

By Kristine Tucker

Cinder blocks provide a strong foundation for bookcases.

A cinder block bookcase is created by stacking cinder blocks in vertical columns and inserting boards or shelves between the blocks to create storage. This bookcase style is especially common in basements, garages, dens and college dorm rooms and provides storage for books, tools and other household items. When you decorate a cinder block bookcase, you can use fabric and paint to create an interesting and artistic design.

Install Fabric Panels

Install fabric or curtain panels to decorate the front of a cinder block bookcase. Select a curtain rod with self-adhesive brackets to support the curtains. If the self-adhesive pulls away from the cinder block surface, apply silicone adhesive to the back of the brackets and allow the glue to dry overnight. Opt for lightweight tab top panels or grommet panels in a coordinating color and pattern that harmonizes with your room design. These curtain styles are easy to slide open and close when you need access to the bookcase. Choose floor-length fabric panels for a stylish and trendy design.

Paint Cinder Blocks

Paint cinder blocks to hamonize with your room design and color palette. Apply oil-based primer to the sides and interior of the cinder blocks, using a thick-textured roller brush or paintbrush. Cover the entire surface with the primer to keep the porous concrete from absorbing the paint. Allow the primer to dry, according to the instructions on the container. Paint the cinder blocks with interior acrylic paint in a color that matches your room decor, using a clean roller brush. Opt for natural brown, beige or white paint for a neutral bookcase design. Select a colorful paint if you want your bookcase to be a focal point in the room.

Stain Wood Shelving

Stain wood boards to decorate your bookcase. Apply stain and a finishing top coat to the boards to warm up the wood finish and create attractive shelving. Opt for a wood stain that coordinates with wood cabinetry or wood furnishings in your living space, basement or garage. Combine mocha-brown painted cinder blocks with oak-stained shelves for an earthy and appealing bookcase design.

Add Industrial Appeal

Create an industrial cinder block bookcase by incorporating metal into your design. Prime and paint cinder blocks with silver-metallic acrylic paint. Choose a paint color like chrome, nickel or aluminum for a dramatic design element. Install metal shelves in a solid, wire or mesh-like variety between the blocks to create shelving for your books and accessories.



Writer Bio

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

DIY Cinder Block Shelf in our backyard

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