How to Make a Kayak Rack: The Ultimate Guide for Enthusiasts


Embarking on a DIY project to create a kayak rack can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, especially for those who love both woodworking and water sports.

Not only does building your own rack provide a customized storage solution, but it also offers the satisfaction of crafting something with your own hands.

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a beginner looking to tackle a new challenge, this guide will walk you through the process of constructing a sturdy and efficient kayak rack, tailored to your space and needs.

With a blend of practicality and creativity, we’ll help you transform simple materials into a functional piece that keeps your kayaks secure and ready for your next adventure.

Before diving into the construction, it’s essential to have a clear plan and gather all necessary materials and tools. This preparation ensures a smooth building process and a successful outcome.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll learn how to measure and plan your rack, select the right materials, and utilize the proper tools to create a durable and aesthetically pleasing kayak rack. From the base frame to the finishing touches, we’ll cover every detail to help you build a rack that not only stores your kayaks safely but also complements your workshop or garage space.

Gather Materials and Tools


Measurements and planning

Proper measurements and planning are the cornerstones of any successful DIY project. When it comes to building a kayak rack, it’s crucial to determine the size and number of kayaks you intend to store. This will influence the dimensions of your rack and the quantity of materials required.

For instance, if you’re looking to accommodate five kayaks, you’ll need to prepare 20 pieces of lumber to create the support arms—two per kayak.

As highlighted in the design from Instructables, the length of the 2x4s should be cut to 36 inches for standard kayaks and 32 inches for smaller ones. Additionally, the distance between the support posts must exceed the width of your largest kayak to ensure a snug fit.

With these measurements in hand, you can proceed to gather the materials and tools needed for the project.

It’s also important to consider the location where the rack will be installed. Whether you’re securing it to a wall, ceiling, or creating a freestanding structure, the stability of the rack is paramount.

For those opting for a wall-mounted solution, using 4″ Tapcon Concrete Anchors is advisable for a firm hold, especially if attaching to concrete blocks as suggested by Family Handyman. Planning these details in advance will streamline the construction process and ensure that your kayak rack is both secure and accessible.

Materials needed

Once you’ve mapped out the dimensions and structure of your kayak rack, the next step is to compile a list of materials. You’ll need a selection of dimensional lumber, including (3) 12′ 2x4s and (4) 10′ 2x4s for the main frame and support arms, as well as (2) 10′ 4x4s for the uprights if you’re building a freestanding rack.

The quantity and size may vary based on the number of kayaks and the specific design you choose. For securing the structure, a supply of 3″ construction screws will be necessary, and if you’re mounting the rack to a concrete wall, 4″ Tapcon Concrete Anchors and a masonry bit will be required for installation.

To protect your kayaks from scratches and provide additional grip, consider adding (4) black utility mats, which can be easily attached to the support arms with a staple gun, as demonstrated in the detailed guide on Instructables.

Remember, the quality of materials will directly affect the durability and longevity of your kayak rack. It’s worth investing in pressure-treated lumber or considering a sealant for added protection against moisture and wear.

By ensuring you have all materials at hand before starting, you’ll avoid unnecessary interruptions and can focus on crafting a robust and reliable storage solution for your kayaks.

Tools needed

With your materials ready, it’s time to gather the tools that will bring your kayak rack to life. Essential to this project is a reliable miter saw, perfect for making precise cuts on your lumber.

If you’re looking for enhanced accuracy for smaller pieces, a table saw with a crosscut sled—an optional plan available on MWA Woodworks—can be a valuable addition to your toolkit. For assembly, a hammer drill and driver combo will make quick work of securing the screws, while a separate hammer drill with a masonry bit is necessary if you’re anchoring the rack to concrete blocks.

Lastly, a staple gun will be indispensable for attaching the protective utility mats to the support arms, ensuring a snug and scratch-free rest for your kayaks.

Having the right tools not only streamlines the construction process but also ensures safety and precision in your work. Before you begin, double-check that your tools are in good working condition and that you have all the necessary attachments, such as the correct drill bits and saw blades.

With everything in place, you’re set to construct a sturdy and functional kayak rack that will neatly organize your gear and maximize your workshop or garage space.

Constructing the Base

Building the base frame

Constructing a solid base frame is crucial for a durable kayak rack. Start by cutting your 2x4s to the required lengths using a miter saw, ensuring each piece is identical to maintain the rack’s stability.

Lay out the base frame on a flat surface, aligning the edges and corners to form a rectangle or square, depending on your design. Secure the joints with 3″ construction screws, creating a strong foundation that can support the weight of your kayaks.

For additional guidance on cutting and assembling the base frame, refer to the step-by-step instructions provided by Instructables.

Once the base frame is assembled, it’s time to attach the crossbars that will support the weight of the kayaks. Measure and mark the placement of the crossbars according to the width of your kayaks, ensuring they are spaced appropriately to provide balance and prevent tipping.

Fasten the crossbars to the base frame using the same 3″ construction screws, checking for level and even spacing. This will create a secure platform for the support arms and ultimately, your kayaks. The precise alignment of these elements is key to a functional and reliable kayak rack.

Attaching the crossbars

With the base frame in place, the next step is to attach the crossbars that will cradle your kayaks. Cut your 2x6s to the desired length, mitering one end at a 22.5-degree angle for a snug fit against the uprights.

Position the crossbars onto the base frame, ensuring they are parallel and evenly spaced to accommodate the width and number of kayaks you plan to store.

Secure each crossbar with wood glue for initial stability, followed by driving 3-inch deck screws to firmly anchor them into the frame. For a visual guide on attaching the crossbars, the Family Handyman project is an excellent resource.

Remember, the strength of your kayak rack relies on the integrity of these connections. Take the time to ensure each crossbar is properly aligned and securely fastened to the base.

If your design includes additional support by connecting the rack to a wall or ceiling, consider adding crossbars to the back for increased stability and to keep the rack as one cohesive unit.

This step is particularly important if you’re storing multiple kayaks and require a taller or more expansive rack system. With the crossbars in place, your kayak rack is beginning to take shape, promising a robust and organized storage solution for your watercraft.

Adding Support and Security

Installing support brackets

After securing the crossbars, the installation of support brackets is the next critical step to ensure your kayak rack can handle the load. Begin by marking the locations on the 4x4s where the brackets will be attached, using a level to ensure they are even and can adequately support the weight of your kayaks.

For a robust connection, use a ¾” forstner bit to countersink holes into the 4x4s, followed by a ¼” drill bit to complete the through holes, as detailed on Instructables. This method provides a clean, flush finish for the screws, enhancing the overall strength and aesthetic of the rack.

Once the holes are prepared, align the support brackets with the pre-drilled holes and fasten them using heavy-duty screws. If your rack design includes wall or ceiling mounting, ensure the brackets are compatible with the chosen surface and use appropriate hardware, such as masonry anchors for cinder block walls.

This step not only adds structural integrity but also increases the safety of your kayak storage system. With the support brackets firmly in place, your kayak rack is now equipped to securely hold your kayaks, providing peace of mind that your equipment is safely stored and ready for your next adventure.

Securing the rack to the wall or ceiling

With the support brackets installed, the final step in adding support and security is to anchor the kayak rack to the wall or ceiling. This is crucial for ensuring the rack remains stable and can safely bear the weight of your kayaks.

If attaching to a wall, as demonstrated on Instructables, use a level to mark the desired position, then drill pilot holes using a hammer drill and masonry bit for cinder block or concrete walls. For wooden walls, locate the studs and drill directly into them.

Secure the rack with heavy-duty screws or bolts, and for added stability, consider using wall anchors suited to the wall material.

For ceiling mounts, ensure the location aligns with ceiling joists to provide adequate support. Use lag screws or eye bolts, depending on your design preference and the weight of the kayaks. It’s essential to distribute the weight evenly and to use a partner when lifting the kayaks onto the rack for safety.

By securing the rack properly, you not only protect your kayaks from potential damage but also maximize the available space in your storage area. Once the rack is anchored, you can confidently load your kayaks, knowing they are stored securely and ready for your next paddling excursion.

Customizing and Finishing Touches

 Customizing and Finishing Touches

Adding padding or protection for the kayak

Once your kayak rack is securely in place, the next step is to add padding or protection to safeguard your kayaks from scratches and dents. Cut padding, such as a yoga mat or rubber utility mats, into pieces that fit snugly on the rack arms.

For a precise fit, use a utility knife to trim the padding to the width of the 2×4 rack arms, as suggested by Family Handyman. Adhere the padding to the arms using a strong adhesive, avoiding staples to prevent any accidental damage to your kayak’s hull.

This layer of protection not only preserves the finish of your kayaks but also provides a non-slip surface to keep them securely in place.

For additional scratch resistance, consider using pool noodles cut lengthwise to fit over the 2x4s, offering a cushioned cradle for your kayaks. The padding should be positioned to accommodate the size of your kayaks, typically around five feet apart for a standard 10-foot kayak, adjusting as necessary for larger models.

By customizing your kayak rack with these finishing touches, you ensure that your kayaks remain in top condition, ready for many seasons of enjoyment on the water.

Painting or sealing the rack

After ensuring your kayak rack is well-padded and protected, the final customizing step is to apply a coat of paint or sealant. This not only enhances the appearance of your rack but also provides an extra layer of protection against the elements, especially if the rack will be located in a damp environment or outdoors.

Choose a weather-resistant paint or a wood sealant that complements your garage or storage space. Apply the paint or sealant evenly, covering all exposed surfaces to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood, which could lead to rot or decay over time. Allow the rack to dry completely before loading your kayaks to avoid any unwanted smudges or marks.

For a professional finish, sand the wood lightly before applying the paint or sealant, as this will help the coating adhere better and result in a smoother finish. If you’re going for a natural look, a clear sealant will enhance the wood’s grain while offering protection.

Remember to reapply the sealant or paint periodically, as recommended by the manufacturer, to maintain the rack’s integrity and appearance. With these final touches, your DIY kayak rack will not only be functional but also a visually appealing addition to your storage space.


With your custom-built kayak rack now complete, you can take pride in the craftsmanship and personalized touches that make it uniquely suited to your needs. The added padding ensures your kayaks are cradled safely, free from the wear and tear of storage, while the sealant or paint you’ve applied will protect the structure for years to come.

This DIY project not only saves space and organizes your gear but also reflects your dedication to maintaining your equipment in peak condition.

As you load your kayaks onto their new rack, remember that this sturdy and reliable structure is a testament to your handiwork and the adventurous spirit of kayaking itself.

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a weekend enthusiast, this kayak rack will serve as a functional piece of your outdoor lifestyle. If you ever decide to expand your fleet or need to adjust the rack’s dimensions, the scalable design allows for easy modifications.

We invite you to share your project success with the Bunnings Workshop community, where fellow DIYers are always eager to see innovative solutions and offer support for your next home improvement endeavor. Happy paddling, and here’s to many organized and efficient adventures ahead!



  • Is it OK to store a kayak standing up?

    You can use indoor or outdoor vertical storage, though if you plan to store your kayak vertically for long periods, it’s better to do so inside. Rest the boost against a wall with the cockpit facing outward. To ensure the kayak stays standing, position it at a slight angle.

  • Is it OK to store a kayak outside?

    Where to store your kayak: Keeping it indoors offers the best protection, but that’s not always practical. Outdoors is suitable, so long as the boat is protected from sun and weather.

  • Can kayaks be stored vertically?

    If you really need to store your kayak for long periods of time, unfortunately, vertical storage might not be the best option. It is still probably best to careful secure your kayak in a horizontal fashion. However, vertical is still a viable option and with proper precautions the benefits can outweigh the concerns.

Leave a Comment