Friday, May 29, 2009

PVC Tent-Weight Tutorial

Tis the season for arts and crafts festivals! Having proper tent weights is mandatory for most shows and some may even refuse to let you vend if you don’t have them. Be sure you are aware of the requirements!

I have seen dozens of methods and styles of tent weights, with sand bags and water jugs being the most prevalent. I don’t like the bulkiness of these, not to mention the hassle of filling and lugging enough water for the proper weight. So I decided to make the pvc variety. They are tall and narrow so it minimizes the tripping hazard and they are white, a bit of camouflage. If you have never used concrete before, don’t worry, it’s easy!

**This tutorial makes four 30lb weights. ** (most of the photos are from the smaller 2” weights I made, you will be using 4” pipe)

All directions are approximate. Supplies and results may be slightly different for you.

weight tute2

You will need:

Two 60lb bags of concrete mix

Four 2.5' pieces of pvc pipe, 4” in diameter. Or one 10’ length, cut into 4 sections. It comes in two thicknesses, get the thicker one to minimize cracking should the weight fall over.

Four end caps. I recommend the flat bottom caps so the finished weights will stand freely. The above photo shows rounded caps. These must be hung. You may also want to get four more for the tops for a cleaner look.

Glue/Epoxy. Anything that will affix plastic. Super Glue is fine.

Four hooks or eye bolts. Make sure they are long enough to ensure the concrete will hold them.


Sand off any rough edges on the ends of the pipe and wipe clean. Glue on end caps and let dry. (If you are going to use caps for the top, drill or cut holes in them to allow for the hooks or bolts.)

Mix your concrete. I suggest mixing and using small amounts at a time as wet concrete is heavy! Only mix up what you can comfortably stir. This keeps the mess down too.

Begin filling pipe. I used a garden trowel (2” pipe shown below) and stopped periodically to tap the pipe on the ground, to assure that the concrete settled properly. One bag of concrete will fill 2 pipes. Fill them both and make sure they are filled equally (or use a bathroom scale if you are going for a specific weight). Repeat for other 2 pipes.

weight tute5

Insert screws. You can do this now or let the concrete set a bit. There may be several inches of unfilled pipe. You can leave it as is , to hide the screws, or cut it off. (If you are using caps on top you will need to cut the pipe flush with the concrete, cap it, then insert your hooks. Also be aware that the extra pipe will gather water if it rains. A small drain hole may be a good idea if you don’t cap the top.)

Be sure to clean the pipes well, removing any unwanted concrete. It can be sharp when dry! Also, it helps to have a plan to use or dispose of any leftover concrete should you have any.

Let cure for a few days.

Ta-daa! Done! Here are the 4” and 2” pipes, tops and bottoms shown.


weight tute4

NOTE: the 2” pipe yielded weights that were less than 10lbs each. They are not half the weight as the 4”. I use them for the back yard only.

Now your challenge will be the best way to attach them to your tent. I do not recommend suspending them directly from your tent! The little button that telescopes the leg on most canopies was not meant to hold 30 extra pounds! Rest them on the ground and use something with a little give like rope, or something adjustable, like strapping for a car. I have also seen heavy duty bungees.

I have quick-release ratcheting ropes we got for our kayaks that work like a dream. I simply hook the weight (resting on the ground), hook the canopy and pull the slack tight. I push the ratchet release to loosen it. (I’ll add a photo of them to this post when I get one)

You may also add some sort of carrying handles during construction for easier transport.

NEVER underestimate a good gust of wind! You need the proper weights! The last thing you want is to spend your day holding on to your canopy every time a gust of wind crops up. BE SAFE.

If you have any other tips on pvc weights I’d love to hear them!