Sunday, May 3, 2009

PVC pipe fort/playhouse

I wanted to build my kids a fort but because I'm in a rental right now it couldn't be a permanent installation. Also, if they were going to have it indoors it had to be able to store somehow when we weren't using it. So I decided to make it out of PVC pipe and fabric. This ended up costing me under $75 since I used $1.50/yard fabric. And the kids LOVE it. Though they were a little upset that I wouldn't let them sleep in there tonight (hey, it's a school night!)

You need 8 1" side out joints (see pictures below). There is such thing as a joint that is 1" in all 3 directions but my local Home Depot doesn't carry them. So I used a 1" with a 1/2" side out and then bought 1/2" to 3/4" converters. If you also have to use the two pieces remember to buy 8 of each. You will also need one straight join piece (1") and 2 T shaped pieces (also 1") to make the doorway.

In addition you will need to buy the actual PVC pipe. If you have to do the modification that I did you will need 2 10' pipes in 3/4" and 4 10' pipes in 1". If you are lucky enough to find the joint with all 1" openings then you will need 6 10' pipes in 1" (in which case treat the red and black lines in the color chart below as all 1").

The picture below is color coded by pipe length and width.

The black lines are 4' in 1" pipe (6 total).
The red lines are 4' in 3/4" pipe (4 total).
The green lines are 1.5' in 1" pipe (2 total).
The blue lines are 2.5' in 1" pipe (2 total).
The yellow lines are 2' in 1" pipe (2 total).

The 8 side out joints go at each corner of the cube. The 2 T pieces go at the top and bottom of the door and the 1 straight join goes in the middle of the 2 2' pieces (yellow) of the door. You can use a 4' piece for the door instead and omit the straight join but this will require you to buy another length of pipe instead of using left over pieces.

You will need 6 colors of 45" fabric (if you want the walls to be different colors). I bought 2 yards each of 5 of them and one yard for the color in the door way. This gives me a little extra fabric left over that I'm going to sew into a bag to hold the pieces when it's broken down for storage. Of each color you need 12 tabs (3 for each edge) except for the door color which will only need 4 tabs at the top. Cut the main piece to fit the width, minus a couple inches on each side, so about 45-ish inches wide. This doesn't have to be exactly any width since the tabs can be adjusted to add or take up slack. Use some of the remaining fabric to make the 12 strips of each color about 2" wide (only 4 for the door color) for the tabs. Hem the edges of the walls and tabs.

Assemble the PVC cube and pin the tabs onto the fabric around each wall. By putting it on the frame as you pin this will ensure that your walls are a close fit. Once the 4 walls, the door and the roof are all pinned you can pull apart the PVC frame a piece at a time to remove it from the fabric tabs. After you've sewn the tabs into place on the walls you can put the frame back together with the fabric. *Tip* On the upright pieces, where tabs from different walls will be interspersed, note what order they're in. This will make reassembly easier later.

The finished playhouse quite comfortably fits my 3 munchkins.


  1. That's great. I used to build forts out of a couple of chairs and a large blanket. This is more like a colorful Borg cube - a place to become assimilated into the world of childrens' imagination.

    You are so good at these projects. :)

  2. wow. that is so cool! sabin would love it. i'll have to make her father build it tho, while i make the curtains.

    excellent tutorial!

  3. that is so cool. i have got to try that. i like the fact that i can pull it apart when not in use and then put it back together when needed.

  4. That is so awesome. I wish I had something like that as a kid. Heck, I wish I had something like that now. :)

  5. You are a kick ass mom! That rocks! I don't know what's cooler, this or the homemade video games!

  6. what a great fort!!! and I had to make do with

  7. Hello, i referred your creations on my blog. You can see them on Playhouse ovvero le casette gioco
    I hope you like it.
    Hello, Linda

  8. I just came across your blog and this is perfect for my kids! just out of much did you spend on PVC material?

  9. Very cool- and I think I could still go the lazy mom route of gator-clipping blankets over the PVC pipe and still have it work out well!

  10. Just found this on pinterest and I'm in love! We're in a rental too so this would be perfect! This would be do fun for an afternoon outside. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I am going to make this, but use velcro on the tabs so that I can put it together without having to thread each piece thru. Thank you!

  12. I found you on Pinterest and loved this idea! I had my husband build the fort and MIL create the fabric... It is wonderful! This is what mine looks like!


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