DIY Boat T-Top

Boating is a great family activity during the summer.
Boating is a great family activity during the summer. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Boating is a great activity whether you are going out fishing or just enjoying the view and the summer weather from the water. To be enjoyed with friends and family, it can be relaxing or exciting depending on what you want to do. Being out in the sun all day, though, can take its toll. Build a T-Top for your boat and enjoy hours of boating and shade.

Things You'll Need

  • PVC Pipe
  • Oil Pastel (White)
  • PVC Elbow Joints
  • Superglue
  • Snips
  • Tarp or waterproof covering
  • Drill and screws
  • Hole saw with same sized bit as PVC pipe
  • Wall mount pipe clamp

Measure the height you would like to build the T-top. Ensure you measure from the floor of the boat to approximately 2 feet above the average person’s height. Call this measurement A.

Measure the width you would like for the T-top. It should be the width of the passenger area of the boat. Call this measurement B.

Measure the length you would like for the T-top. Call this measurement C.

Cut two pieces of PVC pipe to the length of measurement A. Label these pieces "A" with oil pastels.

Cut four pieces of PVC pipe to the length of measurement B. Label these pieces "B" with oil pastels.

Cut two pieces of PVC pipe to the length of measurement C. Label these pieces "C" with oil pastels.

Attach two B pieces and two C pieces using PVC elbow joints. Secure these pieces together using superglue by spreading the superglue on the inside of the elbow joint before pushing the straight PVC pipe into it. Set this frame aside to dry.

Use snips to cut a half circle out of either side of two pieces of pipe B. Ensure the half circles are cut on the same angle so the pipe rests snug in the frame you just built.

Wait for the frame to dry and push the two B pipes into the middle of the frame parallel to the outer B pipes of the frame.

Slide these two new pieces until they are equally spaced apart and secure them with some superglue spread around the edges.

Cut a piece of tarp or other waterproof covering to the square footage of the frame. Ensure you add 2 inches on either side for it to wrap around the PVC pipe.

Secure the covering to the frame using superglue.

Drill short screws into the tarp and PVC pipe every 3 inches around the frame to ensure the tarp stays secure. It is best to also use boating weather stripping to cover this area. Over time weather will not wear at the edges as much.

Use a hole saw with the same size bit as the PVC pipe to cut a hole in the middle of the two C pipes. Do not cut all the way through the pipe, only cut through one side.

Insert the two A pipes into the two holes you cut in the bottom of the frame. Secure these together using superglue.

Measure the length from the attached A pipe to the back to the top frame. Call this measurement D.

Measure from the top of pipe A to elbow height. Call this measurement E.

Determine the length of the support pipes by using the Pythageorean theorem. D squared plus E squared equals F squared. Un-square F to find the length of the support pipes. (D²+E²=F²)

Cut two pieces of PVC pipe to the length of measurement F.

Cut a hole using the hole saw on an upward angle at elbow height on the back of both of the "A" pipes. Only cut through one side, not all the way through.

Cut a hole in the corner of either side of the back of the frame. Ensure the hole is on a downward angle toward the elbow height holes you cut.

Insert the support pipes into these holes and secure them with superglue.

Secure the wall mount pipe clamp to either side of the inside passenger area of the boat. Ensure these pieces are secured directly across from each other. Use multiple pipe clamps to ensure frame is more secure in higher winds.

Slide the bottom of both "A" pipes into the pipe holders. Secure the pipes in the pipe holders using screws.

Tips & Warnings

  • You should always speak with a boating repair or mechanic prior to installing any home-made tops onto your boat.

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