Do it yourself pillars or PVC columns

Written by roger golden
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Do it yourself pillars or PVC columns
PVC columns may be decorative or load-bearing. (row of columns forming portico image by Paolo Frangiolli from

Polyvinyl chloride, commonly called PVC, is not complicated to work with and has enough tensile strength to support large loads. One advantage of using PVC for pillars is the ability to run electrical or plumbing conduits inside the column and out of sight. For the home and garden, PVC columns may be the most affordable solution as well as the easiest to build.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 PVC pipe--6-inch-by-96-inch
  • 2 PVC--6-inch female-to-flush-mount adaptors
  • PVC cement
  • Handsaw
  • 2-inch screws
  • Drill with No. 2 Phillips screw bit
  • Carpenter's level
  • Cedar shims

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  1. 1

    Slide the two adaptors on the ends of the pipe. The flat base of each adaptor should be facing the end of the pipe it will be mounted on. Apply PVC cement to the end of the pipe that will be the bottom and affix the adaptor in place. The adaptor should fit snugly on the pipe, and the pipe end should be flush with the flat side of the adaptor or recessed as much as 3/4 inch.

  2. 2

    Measure from the bottom of the column to the desired height and make a mark around the top of the pipe. Make another ring around the pipe 1-1/2 inch below the first mark. Use the handsaw to cut the pipe at the upper mark. Coat the marked 1-1/2 inch of pipe with PVC cement and install the top cap. Be careful that the adaptor is placed squarely on the pipe.

  3. 3

    Stand the PVC pipe up. Move the base to the desired location. Insert screws into the holes of the adaptor flange and screw them most of the way into the floor, leaving approximately 1/4-inch of the screw protruding.

  4. 4

    Use cedar shims to level the column on both vertical sides, a process called plumbing. Insert shims beneath the base flange to shift the column the necessary amount for it to be perfectly vertical. Tighten the screws of the base to hold the bottom of your pillar firmly in place.

  5. 5

    Keep the pillar plumb and insert screws through the connecting holes of the upper flange. Tighten the screws 3/4 of the way and repeat the plumbing process. Insert cedar shims above the upper flange as needed to achieve a column that is vertically level on both relative sides.

  6. 6

    A more decorative column can be made using 1-1/2-inch diameter PVC pipes and attaching three or more pipes together. Use one section of pipe as the central hub and affix additional pipes around the centre using long screws, carriage bolts or large adjustable hose-style clamps.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have trouble finding PVC fittings with a flat mounting plate, use an ordinary cap and fasten it to the respective top or bottom surface using four evenly spaced 2-inch screws.

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