Introduction: Simple PVC Birdhouse

Picture of Simple PVC Birdhouse

I have 33 trees on my property and tons of wild birds. Most of them live in the very tops of the trees where I can't see them come and go very well. I like to keep birdhouses in the trees closest to the house so I can watch and enjoy the birds. I've never made my own birdhouse so I thought it was about time!

This birdhouse design is super fun and modern but, unfortunately, I can't take credit for it. I saw it on Etsy months ago and fell in love with the contemporary look. If I remember right it was listed for somewhere around $30 and I figured I could make it much cheaper than that (and I did!). I couldn't find anything in detail on the web for how to make one but they looked simple enough so I decided to take a stab at making and documenting some!

If you have the tools already living in your workshop/garage one birdhouse will cost a little under $7.

Step 1: Tools & Materials

If you are new to working with PVC (this was my first time) and want more in-depth information I highly recommend enrolling in the PVC Class taught by audreyobscura!

You will need the following tools and materials to make a PVC birdhouse. (If you have access to a CNC machine this would be SO much easier. You could cut precise wooden circles with cutouts for the front and back of the birdhouse. A different saw would also make this much faster, however, I am a gal with limited access to tools!!)

Tools & Materials

  • Handsaw
  • Electric Drill
  • 1 1/4 inch drill bit (depending on the bird you are looking to attract. Check here for hole sizes.)
  • 1/8 inch drill bit
  • 1/4 inch drill bit
  • 5/64 inch drill bit (or a size slightly smaller than your eye screws)
  • Clamp
  • Pencil
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Quick Square
  • 4 inch PVC pipe - at least 8 inches in length
  • 2 - 4-inch wooden rounds
  • 2 - 1-inch eye screws
  • 24 inches thin paracord
  • Glue (I used Weldbond but the PVC Class or the Glue Class might recommend that something else would work better.)
  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • 100 grit sandpaper
  • Metal File
  • Outdoor Spray Paint (check that it works on plastic) - 2 colors of your choice
  • Wooden Dowel - 1/4 inch

Step 2: Cut & Sand PVC

1. Measure and mark an 8 inch long section of PVC. Mine came in two foot lengths so I ended up making three birdhouses (they make great gifts!). Draw a diagonal line at an angle of your choice starting at the 8 inch mark. Mine was approximately 60 degrees.

2. Clamp the PVC to a work table and using a handsaw cut along the angle. As always, tools can be dangerous. Please use caution.

3. Using a metal file, smooth down the cut edge removing any bits.

4. Sand the entire surface with the 100 grit sandpaper. This will remove the words/lettering on the PVC and prepare it for painting. Be sure to rough up the entire surface including the inside of the cut angle.

Step 3: Drill Wooden Rounds

Each of the wooden rounds will need holes drilled. The front piece will need the main hole for the bird to fit through and the back piece will need a few vent holes.

I purchased these wooden rounds at Michael's for $.99 each. They are beveled and about 3/4 inch thick. I wish they weren't that thick but they worked for this application. If you can find thinner ones use those! This was overkill.

1. Using an electric drill fitted with a 1 1/4 inch drill bit, drill a hole in one of the rounds positioning it toward one side (not in the middle).

2. Change the drill bit to 1/4 inch and drill a hole half way through the wood. Position it right under the larger hole This will be for the perch later. (You can see in the image that I failed to drill this before painting...big mistake! don't forget this step before painting! The paint just chips off around the hole and will have to be repainted.)

3. On the other wooden round, mark where three vent holes should go, I lined them up along the top edge in a row. Change the drill bit to 1/8 inch and drill the holes.

***To avoid chipping the wood you can place a piece of tape on the wood before drilling and drill through the tape. The wood I used was really soft, but if you used something harder it probably wouldn't require taping and wouldn't chip so bad. I did one each way and the one I didn't tape chipped really bad (I had to fill it with wood putty). Boo.

Step 4: Paint Pieces & Cut Dowel

Choose two paint colors that you like. One for the PVC and one for the front and back pieces.

1. In a well ventilated area on a covered work surface, or spray booth, spray paint the PVC. Don't forget the back edge! Let dry according to paint can directions.

2. Spray the wooden rounds. Let dry thoroughly.

3. Cut a 2 1/2 inch piece of dowel and paint desired color(s).

Step 5: Sand, Fit, & Glue Pieces

If you have a CNC machine the sanding part of this step won't be necessary. The wooden rounds I purchased weren't actually 4 inches so they had to be sanded to fit inside the PVC.

1. Using 220 grit sandpaper sand down the edges until the rounds fit in either side of the body of the birdhouse. Dry fit them to assure a good fit.

2. Run a bead of glue (I used Weldbond) around the flat edge of the birdhouse.

3. Inset the back side piece of wood to secure in place.

4. Using a quick square measure to find where the front of the wooden round will sit and mark with a pencil. This will tell you where to run the bead of glue.

5. Run a bead of glue. My pieces fit really tight so I used a mallet to gently pound the wooden face into place.

6. Squeeze a dab of glue into the hole on the face and secure the dowel for the perch.

Step 6: Drill, Hang, & Enjoy!

More drilling coming up!

1. Fit your drill with a 5/64 inch drill bit (or what matches your eye screws) and drill two holes on the top of the birdhouse. One toward the front and one toward the back. It might be tempting to just put one hole in the center, however, the birdhouse won't hang evenly once a bird decided to nest in it.

2. Twist in the eye screws until they are secure. I matched up the front eye screw with the wood to secure it further.

3. If your paracord isn't already cut, cut a 24 inch piece and burn the edge with a lighter to prevent fraying.

4. Thread it through the eye screws and tie a knot to join the ends.

5. Hang in a tree and enjoy!


Cairnz (author)2017-08-01

This is a darling bird house and I would love it as I'm desperate for some bird houses. I'm also getting no help from my dear guys who are both well capable of building bird houses. I do have a major concern over this pvc house and others I've seen made of clay pots, old tea pots, etc. Bird houses are recommended to be made of 3/4" to 1" wood which is supposed to provide some insulation from summer heat. I fear that pvc will not provide any protection from heat and will instead basically bake either the eggs or the baby birds. Would it be possible for either you or anyone else to check the temperature inside this birdhouse when it's hanging outside to see how warm it gets inside? I would truly love to build some of these with a few modifications if they won't get too hot inside.

AlbertN10 (author)Cairnz2017-08-17

great point! i live in central California (near Fresno) and in the past 30 days its hit 100 degrees or higher .... any living thing would COOK inside pvc at this temp

thundrepance (author)2017-08-06

these are F A N T A S T I C! they remind me of some cool, bright solid-color, plastic planters i had in the '70s! i'll bet they really attract birds :^D

p.s: i voted for "box" & "outside" {these are winners in both categories, i.m.o.}, & "favorited", as well. ;^)

Aaaecm (author)2017-08-02

They look so Mid-Century Modern! I love them. I will be making a whole slew of these. Thank you so much for posting.

beautysmistress (author)2017-08-01

very cute... I plan to build a few single family ones and perhaps a 4 plex.

great idea to have a removable plug to clean them each winter.. if your birds leave town that is. Thanks for posting

nedicman (author)2017-08-01

I try plastic material for bird house, bad choice. Not a single time the birds nestle down. Use wood material ONLY, best one is with crust / coat . Not to use colouring agent.

Daisytikityke (author)2017-08-01

I have read that the bottom of the birdhouse should have a few drain holes. It would be easy to drill a few holes along the bottom.
Also, a perch isn't necessary and gives predators a place to hang onto.
Very cute houses and simple clear instructions. Nice work

Flylowe (author)2017-07-30

If you mske a Bluebird house, forget adding the perch. They fly right in.
Also .. You can buy pvc caps to use on the back side that will allow you to clean out the nest if necessary

jproehl99 (author)Flylowe2017-07-31

You can also get plugs that insert inside the PVC pipe end, if you trim off the flange it could be used as the front entrance and PVC glued (assuming PVC glue isn't toxic to birds as well - so check that) or set screwed in place. This in addition to the end cap would eliminate the more biodegradable wood components.

JohnnieW (author)Flylowe2017-07-30

did not know this, thanks

poocolonel (author)2017-07-31

You did very well. They are beautiful.

271828183141592654 (author)2017-07-31

I suggest to watch from afar. Birds tend to abandon their nestlings when they notice that they are being observed. Great idea for bird house making though. Thanks.

WhollyOdd (author)2017-07-30

My thought would be to have a clear plastic (and yes removable) back so you can see in. That way you know you aren't disturbing anybody at clean up time, and kids can learn what goes on in the nest.

BobH160 (author)WhollyOdd2017-07-31

Buying a very small CCTV camera would be better as you wouldn't have to disturb the birds when they have chicks as this could make them abandon them. They can be purchased relatively cheaply now and Youtube or here will tell you how to use them.

WesleyP (author)BobH1602017-07-31

I also was told that the hatchlings would be abandoned should they be touched or disturbed by human contact. I have since learned that this is a myth. Just watch yourself as the mother bird may flock you by instinctively protecting her young.

wold630 (author)WhollyOdd2017-07-30

Great idea!

john043 (author)2017-07-31

Oh, and regarding squirrels gnawing though the paracord ( likely if they are in the area) Sure a length of small chain would work, but even cheaper, I just use bailing wire, or a bent coat hanger; so far it's been an effective deterrent for mine.

john043 (author)2017-07-31

Much, but legitimate, ado about the need to be able to open and clean it out. Simple solution, just use two stainless steel flat head screws to hold the back in place. The screw heads could be painted the same as the house body to make them less visible. Still, it's a very clever idea that is well explained.

asergeeva (author)2017-07-31

Wow! So beautiful!!

laba82 (author)2017-07-31

This looks very nice, and I'm thinking of building one or two myself. I only have one question, how do you clean the birdhouse after the birds move out?

wold630 (author)laba822017-07-31

I've owned several birdhouses that do not have a removable back (or other place) to clean them out. After the birds leave the house, shake the birdhouse vigorously to help break up the nest. Dump out what you can and use a stick (or hook of some kind) to get the rest out.

I've also left birdhouses alone without maintaining them for years and birds kept coming back. I'm not a bird expert so I'm not sure if some birds prefer previously built nests or not. That's just my experience.

JorgeG6 (author)2017-07-31

Gostei da idéia. Tenho alguns restos de pvc que servirão perfeitamente. Também pensei em outros materiais alternativos como garrafas pet, pneus usados e bambus...

SherpaDoug (author)2017-07-30

If you have problems with squirrels chewing their way into your birdhouses, one way to slow them down is to line the inside of the hole with a 3/8" wide strip cut from a tin (steel) can. Hold the strip in place with some tacks or brads.

A squirrel will spend all day trying to enlarge a hole that is almost big enough, rather than start a new hole in another part of the birdhouse.

BobH160 (author)SherpaDoug2017-07-31

Squirrels may also chew the para-chord and drop the birdhouse to the ground. If you have many squirrels I would suggest using chain instead of para-chord. I had large bird feeders (14Kgs)that could only be accessed by birds who could hang upside down, it gave the small birds first choice and the large ones learned to let the small birds feed and discard the seed they didn't want. Unfortunately even though it was suspended by 6 mm rope the squirrels still chewed through it so I replaced them with chain, that worked.

Dadrepus (author)2017-07-27

Wonderful idea but...there is always a but :-(

I am concerned with the paint on the interior becoming toxic to the birds over time. I would eliminate the paint on all interior surfaces to minimize exposure.

What kind of birds does this attract?

BobH160 (author)Dadrepus2017-07-31

It would depend on the size of the hole you cut in the face.

ArthurJ5 (author)Dadrepus2017-07-30

According to Krylon their paint is nontoxic after it dries for about a week in a dry climate.

TomC193 (author)ArthurJ52017-07-30

Non-toxic to humans; but may still be toxic to birds!

lorenkinzel (author)TomC1932017-07-30

You can't please everyone. Especially doomsday prophets........

Nokota (author)ArthurJ52017-07-30

Unfortunately mate, that means absolutely bupkiss with regard to birds. I own several pet birds, and I've learned through experience and research that things considered safe for humans can be deadly toxic to birds. You are better off checking if something is safe to put in a fresh water fish tank than just checking for a nontoxic label - fresh water fish have about the same levels of sensititivity to things like paint as birds do. Did you know that cleaning your fish tank with dish soap while it is empty and the fish are removed can kill your fish due to the residue the soap leaves? One must clean a fish tank with mouthwash. Interesting, no?

Your project certainly looks pretty, but I do wish you had done more research into your materials first.

Being in the same room as a hair dryer is being used can kill a small parrot. Because they do make fumes that don't bug humans at all.

Nokota (author)Dadrepus2017-07-30

I am more concerned about the points of the screw eyes being very sharp. I would clip them off and file them before inserting, honestly.

wold630 (author)Dadrepus2017-07-28

I agree that the paint probably isn't best for the birds. I didn't intend to spray into the cavity, however, the overspray got in there anyway. :( Maybe cleaning it out, or removing it, afterward would be a good idea.

Depending on the size of hole drilled the birdhouse will attract different kinds of birds.

Ranee GA (author)2017-07-30

Love the look! I too, am new to pvc but have wanted to try. I will start with this - thank you for posting! :)

lotus 7 (author)2017-07-30

Nicely done!

Thank you

LeslieGeee (author)2017-07-30

Very nice birdhouse, attractive and easy to make. Will be nice for gifts. Thank you for sharing/

nursermk (author)2017-07-30

Nice job and explained very well! As a birder check out for different size bird holes-- too large and predators such as Acorn Woodpeckers, rodents or Racoons, etc. can access the house. Perches are not always necessary for the same reason--a Swalliow will sail right in without stopping. Many birds require a stationary site, so mounting beats hanging almost every time (west coaster so we use an east facing spot to protect from rain and wind) and all the wood houses I've built have an access door to clean out the old nesting material easily at end of year. This is a great, rugged alternative and I appreciate the post!

ArthurJ5 (author)2017-07-30

These are so cool! One change you might want to make is having the rear wall removable. This would allow you to clean it out and keep parasites from infecting the next birds. I plan on making some with textured paint to look like stucco or clay.

JordanW8 (author)2017-07-30

Great looking design, and easy! According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, you should avoid a perch. The birds don't need it, and it is a place for predators to potentially grab on. Not sure how the plastic might affect them, but it looks like you've got enough ventilation built in:

billspotten (author)2017-07-30

Very good design. The only thing I would change is one end should come off to clean out the bird house when needed.

FayeE1 (author)2017-07-30

I love how these look. My concern is the paint inside like others have expressed but you have no clean out place.. At the end of the season those need to be cleaned out from all the old nesting and bird poo so they are ready for spring again.. You have glued everything together.. I don't know if a trap door on the bottom can be made. Cut out the plastic the put a hinge on it with a closure affixed to it .. But the screws would have to be flush with the bottom. Or if there is a way to make the back circle a clean out door.. I do love how they look. Awesome job explaining how you did it..

BillR85 (author)2017-07-29

My only concern is that since this hangs the wind will move it around. Not sure birds would like their house swaying back and forth, especially in high wind storms we get frequently, compared to houses that are secured to a post etc.. Just a thought but a nice cheap fun weekend project where color is only limited by your imagination.

wold630 (author)BillR852017-07-29

I imagine the swaying wouldn't be anymore than that of a nest in a very tall tree, but it would be simple enough to drill a hanger on the back and secure it to a post or fence!

DylanD581 (author)2017-07-27

Wow, very modern birdhouse design! I've seen people create a wooden texture on PVC pipe with regular wood stain - that might be a cool effect!

JAC_1961 made it! (author)2017-07-27

Great birdhouse design! I make a similar one and the wrens around here seem to love it.

fishhead455 (author)2017-07-27

Great informative did a beautiful job but more importantly the instructions and pictures are clear and precise. I shall build a few of these...thanks.

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Bio: Hi, my name is Jen! I'm a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time I'm a crafter, food lover, cake decorator ... More »
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