Introduction: 30-minute Kiddie Pool From Scrap Pvc and a Tarp

After another week of 100 degree weather, I wanted to make a kiddie pool for my son to splash in. A friend suggested using scrap pvc and a tarp left over from a burning man project. This is a fun and easy project that should take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Once you have the pool, it is easy to take apart and store when you are done.

Parts list:
At least 30 feet of pvc, 1/2" or thicker
About (10) 1/2" T-Connectors
One 8'x10' tarp or larger
PVC cutter or a hacksaw or sawsall for cutting pvc. Note, a pvc cutter is cheap an will make everything go much faster, plus they are a cool tool to own.
Clamps of bungies to secure tarp to frame (duct tape would also probably work, or just having a very big tarp)

Final pool size is ~ 4x6 feet

If you have an old queen sized inflatable mattress that doesn't hold air very well, you could probably cut that open and use that instead of the tarp




Step 1: Collect Your Stuff, Line Up the PVC

I used FOUR 10-foot pieces of 1/2" pvc I had lying around. You could do it with 3 pieces if you were more organized with the cuts. I ended up with 4 extra 3.5' PVC sections.
You will also need a bunch of t-connectors. You can buy packs of 10 t-connectors from Home Depot or a similar store for a few bucks.

I used 16'x10' foot tarp folded in half the long way (so it was 8x10). You want a relatively new tarp so there aren't any leaks in it. The tarp will still let seep water through but it seems to hold it well enough to play in for a few hours.

Plan to make your pool about 2-3 feet smaller than the width/height of your tarp, this gives you an extra foot of tarp on each side for attaching the tarp to the frame.
Example: For and 8x10 foot tarp, make a 6x8' frame (actually you might want to go about a foot small than this -- I did a 4x6 frame and that worked pretty well
For this project I'll assume you are making a 4x6' frame

Note that the sizing here is approximate. Your goal is to have the long sides have a split in the middle for a supporting leg, and the short sides to have a long section and then a short section connecting the side leg to the corner (see later steps to clarify this)

All of this is approximate, with some extra connectors and a pvc cutter, you can just shorten things or lengthen them by connecting two pieces as needed.

[NOTE, PVC is a terrible building product for the environment, so this is a better project for using up unused scrap pvc rather than buying it new...]
Green Building council report on PVC:
Article -
Report (PDF) -
PVC pipe summary is on page 9 of the pdf; General summary of impacts is on page 11]

Step 2: Measure, Mark and Cut the Pvc

(1) Cut 3 feet off of ALL four 10' pieces to get FOUR 7 foot sections.
(2) Cut all the pieces IN HALF to get EIGHT 3.5 foot sections
(3) Cut ONE FOOT off of FOUR of your 3.5 foot sections

Again, if you are using scrap pieces of pvc, just collect enough pieces that they all add up to the right size. You will need enough connectors to connect them.

Step 3: Making the Legs

For some reason 3-way right-angle PVC connectors are super expensive. To get around this, you will have the legs be separate from the corners.

(1) Take the foot-long pieces you just made and cut them in half
(2) You will use one 6" piece piece to connect the corner T-connector to the leg T-connector. Use the other 6" piece to act as the leg.

Step 4: Assemble the Final Frame

Haul all the pieces into your backyard or onto your porch.

Corners and legs:
(1) Corners get a T (or 4-way) connector
(2) Connect a 6" piece to one corner and then another T-connector with the T facing down.
(3) Add the other 6" piece as a leg.
(4) Use a long piece on the other side. The frame is probably strong enough with just one leg per corner, so you can stagger the legs around the frame (pic 2).

On the long sides, us a T connector to connect one 3.5 foot piece and one 2.5 foot piece and then another leg and a corner. Just move stuff around until it looks like the right size. You can cut stuff down if you want it shorter.

Step 5: Add the Tarp and the Water

Add the tarp. If the frame is too wide, you can widen the fold of the tarp slightly to make it wider, it just won't overlap on itself completely.

Secure the tarp with some clamps and then fill it with water

I filled the tarp first and then realized it wasn't quite long enough to hold water without the clamps.

1 clamp per side seems to work fine. If your tarp is really long you can probably get away without doing this.

Alternatively, you can run small bungies through the grommets to secure them to the legs.

Step 6: Add Baby and Enjoy

You only need a few inches of water.

The extra T-connectors and bungies make nice wholesome baby toys.


Don't leave your child unattended, an infant can drown in less than an inch of water.