Do it Yourself Pillars or PVC Columns

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PVC columns may be decorative or load-bearing.
PVC columns may be decorative or load-bearing. (Image: row of columns forming portico image by Paolo Frangiolli from Fotolia.com)

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.

Things You'll Need

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

Slide the two adapters on the ends of the pipe. The flat base of each adapter 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 adapter in place. The adapter should fit snugly on the pipe, and the pipe end should be flush with the flat side of the adapter or recessed as much as 3/4 inch.

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 adapter is placed squarely on the pipe.

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

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.

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.

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 center using long screws, carriage bolts or large adjustable hose-style clamps.

Tips & 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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