PVC Vs Copper
I was motivated to build this arbor after seeing one a neighbor had in
his yard made from copper pipe and fittings. Personally I like the look of copper when it's new and shiny. As it ages and gets the green patina it doesn't have the same appeal to me. I thought I'd try to see how PVC looked and how the paint would hold up in the weather. There is a significant cost savings between using PVC versus the copper.
Step 1: Safety
Remember to use the proper safety equipment when sawing or dealing with chemicals and paint.
Step 2: Tools and Supplies
- Saw to cut the pipe with. I used a Japanese saw.
- Sandpaper to smooth the cut edges and to prep the pipe and fittings for paint. I used 220 grit.
- Carpenter square.
- Tape measure.
- Safety glasses.
- Solvent proof gloves.
- Denatured Alcohol. Used to clean the pipe after sanding and before painting.
- Spray paint, designed to be used on plastic. I used Rust-oleum Advance Formula.
- Play sand (optional).
- 4 - 10' x 1/2" PVC pipe
- 24 - PVC 1/2" Tees
- 8 - PVC 45 degree elbow
- 4 - PVC 1/2" end caps.
- 20 - 1" PVC connector pipes (cut)
- 1 - PVC 1/2" coupling.
- 1 - PVC 5-way cross.
- Rubber Mallet.
- Solar light.
- 1 small brass screw
Step 3: Cutting the Pipe to Size
I wanted the arbor to be about 6' tall and narrow. So I made the four legs 12" tall and the two middle sections 18" tall each. The top is angled up at a 45 degree and those connector pipes are 9".
Step 4: Sanding
I sanded each piece of pipe after cutting all the pieces. Using 220 grit. The fittings were sanded after the arbor was assembled and glued together.
Step 5: Gluing and Weighting the Legs
After assembling the legs with end caps, I poured play sand into each one. I'm not sure how much I will have to sink the legs into the ground during the arbor installation and leveling. So I thought a little weight for ballast should help stabilize it.
I can still add sand through the top coupling if I feel it needs more.
Step 6: Assembling and Dry Fitting
After cutting all the pipes I decided to dry fit the arbor together. That actually went well until I got to the very top and had to deal with trying to fit the four pieces into the 5 way at the same time. What I ended up doing was using a rubber mallet, and a few gentle hits and it slid together. On the final assembly it went together easier because there's hardly any friction in the joints before the glue sets.
I then chemically cleaned, glued and assembled twelve section of two tees and a 12" pipe. Using the table to keep the fittings level and square.
I left the legs off. And glued four of the tees and 12" pipe assemblies together in the shape of a square with two of the sections on top of the other two. And they were connected by the one inch pieces. I kept them square by holding the carpenters square against them until the glue dried, about 30 seconds each time. Added the 18" risers on top of that section, and repeated those steps until reaching the top where the 45 degree elbows began. I connected two of the 45 degree pieces onto the nine inch pipe, and used the table to keep them square to each other while the glue set. Repeated these steps for the remaining three.
Installed those assemblies into the 5 way and the top of the corners. Then added a two inch piece of pipe into the top of the 5 way and added a coupling on to that.
I left some space under the coupling in case I wanted to change the top solar light or replace it with something else (spire, wind vane, etc).
The only thing left to do was to glue on the legs and the arbor body was ready for paint.
Step 7: Painting
I used a color called "Copper Rose" from the Rust-oleum line. I painted the arbor with two coats of this color and will add two coats of clear coat paint to help keep it from getting damaged by the weather.
Step 8: Installing the Solar Light
I disassembled the light in order to go through the same steps to prepare it for the paint. I also covered the solar panel and the area that houses the electronics, battery and battery cover with tape during the painting. Two coats were applied.
In order to attach it to the arbor, I cut the pole down to size to one inch in length. I also drilled a small hole into the coupling on the top of the arbor, and a matching one into the pipe that gets inserted in to it. A small brass screw was then installed to keep the light from ever getting blown off from wind.
Step 9: Conclusion
I am happy with the the way this came out and time will tell how the paint holds up.
All the supplies were purchased from the local big box store with the exception of the 5 way. They only sold them by 10 packs, I found the one I purchased online ........... Here
The 5 way is furniture grade and not made for plumbing purposes..
Thank you for taking the time to look at this.