When we first bought our house, a few years later I built a patio railing around the perimeter of our backyard patio cover. I built the railing using standard pinewood boards that I bought at Home Depot. A few years later the wood started to rot and mold at the bottom from the rain moisture and lawn sprinklers. So I came up with an idea to build the railing from sprinkler PVC pipes. These are the step I took to build a DIY PVC Pipe Patio Railing.
- Measure and Cut Rails
- Drill Holes for Pickets
- Cut Pickets
- Attach Screws at the Bottom of Each Picket
- Insert Pickets Into Lower Rail
- Attach Screws at the Top of Each Picket
- Slide Top Rail Over the Pickets
Our backyard patio has an aluminum patio cover with aluminum posts that were installed at different distances from post to post. Buying a standard railing panel in the store was not an option because they were too short. I had to make my custom railing with different lengths per panel.
The first railing I built was made from pinewood that was placed between the patio posts. This wood railing only lasted a few years before falling apart even though I had a few coats of exterior paint on it. I didn’t want to keep changing it every few years. So I wanted to build something that would last me a long time.
Why use a PVC pipe for patio railing?
Using PVC sprinkler pipes was a better option for me because it doesn’t rot. However, long-term sunlight exposure can cause portions of the outer shell of PVC pipes to degrade slightly. Also, sunlight will slowly cause the pipe to turn brownish or yellowish tint. To fix this problem, you just need to paint the pipes with latex paint and that will protect it from UV radiation.
The instructions below are for just one panel. So if you decide to build this DIY PVC Pipe Patio Railing and you need more than one panels, then you’ll need to do the math for additional material.
You also might be interested in an outdoor DIY Planter Container with Corrugated Steel.
PVC Pipe Patio Picket Railing PDF
This PDF download includes Cut Diagrams, a List of Supplies, and 3D illustrations with detailed steps to build the project. Measurements are in imperial and not metric. Does NOT include SketchUp/CAD files.
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Tools for this Project
- 3″ PVC pipe 8′ long (x4)
- 3/4″ PVC pipe 10′ long (x5)
- 3/4″ PVC end caps (x15)
- 1/2″ Screws
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Measure and Cut Rails
First, you need to figure out how long your railing panel needs to be. In my case, the distance from one post to post was 77 1/2″. So for this step, take 3″ round PVC pipe and cut two pieces to 77 1/2″ in length. You don’t need to have a special blade to cut the PVC pipe. I just used my miter saw to cut the pipe using a regular blade that cuts wood. You could also use a skill saw to do the cutting.
Step 2 – Drill Holes for Pickets
Now both the upper and lower rails need holes drilled for 3/4″ PVC pipe pickets. At the time of building this PVC fence, I only had manual drill press available. I built a jig and attached the manual drill press on top to drill the holes at 90 degrees. An electric drill press would probably work better than what I had available.
Starting from one end, pull a measurement of 3 5/8″ and make a mark. This will be the center of the first hole, after that, the holes are every 5″ from center to center. The outside diameter of 3/4″ PVC picket pipe is 1 1/16″. So you will need 1 1/16″ hole saw bit for drilling these holes. I clamped the 3″ pipe to the table using Tektron C-clamp so that the pipe will not move or rotate. Then slide the jig across to each mark and drill the holes.
Step 3 – Cut Pickets
Once you have all the holes drilled on both upper and lower rails, take 3/4″ PVC pipe and cut 15 pickets to 32″ in length using PVC cutter. You could also use a miter saw to make these cuts if you don’t have a PVC cutter.
Step 4 – Attach Screws at the Bottom of Each Picket
The 3” bottom rail needs to be placed at 4” from the ground. To prevent it from sliding down on the pickets use a small screw as a stopper. Measure and mark 4″ from the bottom of each picket and screw in a Hex Washer Head Metal Screw 7 x 1/2 at that mark. This hex screw will not allow the lower rail from sliding down to the ground.
Step 5 – Insert Pickets Into Lower Rail
Slide the pickets through the holes of the lower 3″ pipe rail. The 1/2″ screw will prevent the rail from dropping down to the floor.
Step 6 – Attach Screws at the Top of Each Picket
Once you insert the pickets through the lower rail, measure and mark 6″ from the top of each picket. Make sure to mark 6” on the same side as the lower screws. Then using Hex Washer Head Metal Screw 7 x 1/2 screw in at that mark. Having the screws on the same side will make the pickets the same elevation all the way across the panel.
Step 7 – Slide Top Rail Over the Pickets
Now slide the 3” top rail over the picket. The screws will hold the rail from sliding further down. Then place the PVC end caps on top. Spray paint the entire PVC railing panel with latex paint. You’re done with this DIY PVC Pipe Patio Railing.