I recently went to a big box store to replace an outdoor canopy that was destroyed when a friend left it out in a storm. The wind and rain came up suddenly; getting the children, birthday cake and presents inside first was a priority. The outdoor furniture was left to fend for itself.
Looking at the prices for a mid-range outdoor shade canopy, I decided to make my own. When I added the cost of my materials together, I was going to save money.
I’ll share my design with you. You can make this as large or as small as you need it. The ropes inside add strength to the design and eliminate the need for bolts and nuts. Everything is replaceable and affordable. You can buy the materials at any DIY store or online.
For the PVC, you can paint or stain it to match your fabric or décor.
Note: I like to cut things to a stock size, so my measurements for outdoor projects when finished may be different. You can certainly cut your pipes to have exact fit measurements for your project. For example, when cutting a length of pipe to be six feet long when finished, take into consideration the amount of pipe inserted into a connector and the size and length of the connector itself.
You will need:
- · Paracord or thin, strong rope to fit inside the poles, three different colors
- · A drill with bits
- · PVC pipe, ¾” diameter, schedule 40- both eight and ten foot lengths
- · 3-way PVC connectors ¾”
- · 4- way PVC connectors, ¾”
- · Lead weight that fits inside the pipe when attached to the rope. These can be found in the fishing department.
- · 2-feet long rebar, ½” diameter
- · Mallet for driving rebar
- · Solar screen material
- · Outdoor fabric
- · Zipper, snaps, buttons, ties or other closure if desired
- · General sewing equipment
- · Measuring and marking tools
- · Hacksaw or PVC cutter
- · Tent stakes
- · Primer and fluorescent paint
- · PVC primer and cement
I’m going to make my outdoor PVC shade room using the same shock-cord idea that allows my tent to stay up while the wind is blowing hard. I’ve decided to make my room nine-feet by 12-feet; this size isn’t available from most manufacturers and allows me to make the most of the space inside.
I’ll get all the materials together before I start. My outdoor PVC shade room will have a flat top, but I could also use 45° connectors to make a raised roof or an arched one.
Tent shock poles are connected by the cord; the poles are not stored separately because the poles are still connected. My idea might seem a little complicated at first, but it’s not.
Since my ceiling height will be seven feet, I’ll cut my side poles seven feet long. I’ll drill holes through the center of the poles for a side cord. Since I like a lot of support for my designs, I’ll have a total of four poles on each side.
It’s important to note that when cutting PVC pipe, there will be some rough edges. Always use a little mild sandpaper to remove the edges as you go.
The width of the room will be nine feet wide; I’ll need a ceiling pole for each of the side poles. These are easily cut from the ten-foot lengths.
To connect the poles at the top, I’ll use a three-way connector at the front and back sides and four-way connectors to attach the top poles. There will be three poles in between each top and side pole. These lengths will each be four feet long for my project.
To allow the room to be set up and broken down easily, I can cement the connectors to the top rails only. That way, I won’t lose them. Nothing else will be cemented together.
I’ll set up one of the tops and sides flat on the ground. I’ll measure along the lengths of the poles to obtain the first rope measurement. That means for my project, the two side poles will equal 14 feet. The nine feet added to that measurement will be 23 feet. Including enough rope for tying to the tent stakes, I’ll cut my rope 26 feet long. I like to have a little extra.
Since there are four of these, I’ll cut four ropes in the same color. I’ll tie a lead weight to each end and thread the rope through the top rail only. For easy set up, I’ll drop the weighted ends down the sides and out the bottoms. Of course, I could do this now and fold them like tent poles for transportation.
For the next step, I’ll set up the entire frame. The rebar is driven into the ground next to the side poles and secured with short pieces of rope. Zip ties can be used as well, but need to be cut each time. The rope will not.
The cords coming through the poles will be tightened first on one side, then the other. Tie a knot in the end of one side large enough to keep it from pulling back through the pipe. Tying it to a stick or other object will also work well. Go to the other side and tighten gently. All you need is for the structure to hold in place.
The second colored rope will be used to thread through the holes drilled through the sides of the poles. This should not be hard to do if the hole is a little larger than the rope. Of course, I could also use connectors and side pipes to accomplish this; perhaps I will do this in the future.
The side ropes will also tie to tent stakes driven in the ground at the front and back.
The third rope will be the longest; one length of rope will travel along each side near the side poles and tie to tent stakes. Only enough tension is needed to keep the structure from moving.
Once the structure is standing, measuring the top for an outdoor fabric covering is easy. I’ll leave a one-foot wide overhang on each side that will allow me to attach my solar screen fabric with zippers or snaps. Ties will also be added so I can attach the roof to the top rails.
The solar screen will be attached as a set of rectangles with ties attaching to the poles. Each rectangle will attach at the sides with zippers or snaps as well as the corners. This allows me to create a door no matter where the room is set up. Of course, I can create a dedicated door in each end or side.
The rebar will be primed and painted for longevity and safety. The fluorescent paint can be seen at night to avoid any accidents.
I know my friends will want to borrow my outdoor PVC screen room for their parties. I never have a problem with that; if something happens, I can build another. I can also build one and give it as a gift to friends who like to entertain outdoors.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse forms of crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects and more.