2015-10-20 17.10.03With our newly acquired kayak collection, storage has become an important requirement. While there are plenty of commercial solutions available, most are prohibitively expensive, difficult to use, or require large amounts of wall space. With a little digging on the net, I was able to find a relatively easy and inexpensive solution; PVC.

This rack is largely based on this one found on YakAngler.com, posted by FLNavyVet. I made a couple of changes. First, I went one level higher so that four kayaks/SUPs can be stored. Secondly, I used 1 1 /14″ pipe rather than 2″. This is more than adequate strength-wise and brought the total price down about $30 over the 2″.

The rack easily holds our four 9 1/2′ and 10′ kayaks, as well as paddles, PFDs, and dry bags.

Shopping List

  • (32) 1 1/4″ Ts
  • (8) 1 1/4″ Caps
  • (9) 10′ 1 1/4″ PVC Pipe

Cut List

  • (8) 60 3/16″ (basically cut four 10′ pieces exactly in half)
  • (8) 36″
  • (24) 4″
  • (12) 12″

Short Rack Changes

If you don’t need storage for four, just reduce your shopping and cut list as follows for EACH level you are removing. I suppose you could also add for additional layers, but beyond four will get kind of wobbly.

  • Shopping – Subtract (8) Ts and (roughly) (2) 10′ pipes
  • Cut List – Subtract (2) 60 3/16″, (2) 36″, (4) 12″, and (8) 4″ pieces

Assembly

Putting the rack together is rather straight forward, basically each “leg” is assembled in the following order (bottom to top), with every other T at right angles.

(Bottom) Cap, 4″, T, 4″, T, 12″, T, 4″, T, 12″, T, 4″, T, 12″, T, 4″, T, 4″, Cap (top)

Then connect the legs alternating from the bottom the 36″ and 60″ pieces.

Conclusion

I could have made my rack a few inches narrower. Doing so, would have provided a little more strength. Measure your kayaks and adapt the 36″ pieces as needed. During my next trip to Harbor Freight, I’m likely going to buy some casters for it. Being able to move it around in the garage would be very useful.

All in all, the total price was $92.28 before sales tax. Not to shabby…

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21 thoughts on “My $100 DIY PVC Kayak Rack

  1. Thanks bro. Just made mine with a couple changes. I went 3″ instead of 4″, 9″ instead of 12″, and 30″ instead of 36″. The opening for the kayaks are > 30 wide and about 15″ high. Overall height is about 66″. Thanks again!!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing!!! I’m about to start mine today! May make a few adjustments, but your shopping list and instructions have given me a big head start!!! This was just what I needed and wanted.

  3. Thanks for the plans. I build mine roughly on someone else’s plan. I think doing a dry run without the glue is ok but go back and add it, another plan said you really didn’t need it. That is ridiculous, My lengths are 72″, 28″, 12″ (could have been 9″ or 10″), and 5″.

  4. Thanks! With a few modifications for my two kayaks and smaller storage space, your instructions worked perfectly. 90 minutes and under $60…

  5. Thank you for the plans and instructions. My 13 year old son and I built ours this weekend. I followed your post build thoughts and shortened the width from 36″ to 33″. Works great and I got to spend about 3 hours alone with my son. Good day.

  6. Thanks! I did it! Cost me about $120 though. Had to shop at Home Depot so probably not the best price. Still totally worth it and so easy. My 9 year old loved helping me put it together.

  7. Did you end up installing caster wheels?

    If so, which one did you use and how did you install them into the PVC?

    I’m going to do this, sometime next week.

    Thank you for sharing your post productions thoughts and design.

    1. Yes I did. I don’t remember exactly which they were, but I remember I got them from Harbor Freight, and bought ones that had a bolt end. I just drilled holes in PVC caps and bolted through it. I was not going to win any high-speed/weight competitions, but it worked for the occasional move around the garage and out to the driveway to load the car.

  8. Thanks for the plans. My family and I did this project together and it turned out great! We Will add casters to the bottom to help roll it.

  9. Thanks for the great plans and photos. So, yes, I built one of these – a 4 story model – over the past 2 weeks. I thought about going down to the smaller discussed dimensions, but ended up staying with the basic standard plan. It might be useful to some, if I shared some of my method.
    I first fitted everything together; then, I “cemented” (using the standard “PVC welding cement”, and without primer) all of the horizontal joinings,. The idea was to first, prevent sway from causing any pullouts and then collapses. I would first, do all 4 at a time on one side, and then all 4 on another, and then flip.
    On a second day, I did some of the lower vertical joinings. However, after that point, I stopped taking the fittings apart, and I would just smear a little bit of the cement around the joining seam, hoping for some of that “burn” action to cause at least some fusion between the joined vertical sections. After all, gravity will help keep the vertical pieces in, and good solid cemented horizontal joinings on all elements will help prevent “sway”. And, we’re not running water through these pipes! (Unless someone has a really interesting and different idea here – always possible).
    Enjoy your rack making!

  10. Hi! Thanks for these easy plans! I just built a 2-tier for our kayaks, and it couldn’t have been easier! I bought 5-foot lengths to start, because it was easier for transport, and ended up being cheaper because I bought 10 and got a discount. Total cost was around $65.

  11. I love that that 6 of the 15 comments (7 of 16 with my comment) are from quarantine. People have time to do something with their boats during the downtime!

    We have been up at the lake for several months now, which we are usually only up for weekends. These instructions are terrific. I made two modifications. Instead of three 12″, I did 2 12″ sections and 1 9″ section. I am storing two kayaks on the bottom and two SUPs on top. Worked great! The other modification I made was on the two top verticals for the SUPs. On one end, I put a 2″ PVC over 1.5″ PVC that I used to build the rest rack. This acts like a roller for the SUPs, making them easier to get on and off the rack.

    Thanks for posting a terrific build!

  12. Fantastic… searched for “kayak rack for toy hauler” and your solution was referenced in a Forest River RV discussion group. My toy hauler is a Grand Design Momentum 397TH. My Wilderness Pungo 140 is 28″ wide so I went with 30″ cross bars. Heading out this weekend and have been struggling a bit to envision how to keep the kayaks safe and solid on the trek. This solution is perfect and leaves plenty of room for my Can Am Spyder RTS-SE6 along side in the “garage” of the toy hauler. Thank you!

  13. Thank you so much for the pictures and even moreso for the actual dimensions, supply list, and cut list. We needed to store 6 kayaks so we made it 3 high and 2 wide (https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiGKUdEtTPBUgZFFwOn85rE4zSBYgw?e=W8Uyy6). So for this build it was about $220 worth of 1.5″ pvc pipe and connectors. The only change is size we made was the bottom, being that it sits in a grassy area, was lengthened to 6″ and we left the rest the same as yours. Of course the middle T’s were switched out with cross connectors and after over 150 cuts (thank God for a mitre saw and stop blocks for repetitive cutting) my daughters, with the help of a rubber mallet, and I made quick work of assembling it onsight. Here’s the finished product: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiGKUdEtTPBUgZFDtx16nNwJQeqybg?e=Kae1t5

    Thanks again!

  14. Just came across this post 5=yrs later and used it to get my supplies. I purchased enough to do 4 but will start with 3; and also added foot caps with a 1/2′ opening that I’ll bolt 4″ swivel castors to for ease in moving around. Total cost including primer and cement: $120.0. ll do some smaller dimensions based on measurements of my kayaks and need to conserve garage space {33,” vice 36″ for width, and 3″ vice 4″ on space). Thanks for the helpful post!

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