Inexpensive PVC Banner Frame - DIY
We are often asked how to display temporary banners for events from grand openings to soccer games.
In this article, we present instructions for making an inexpensive DIY banner frame using PVC pipe and fittings available at any home improvement store. This frame is easy to make, lightweight, portable and reusable. With options presented, this banner frame can be used indoors in a gymnasium or at an outdoor soccer field.
Parts Needed For Frame
- 2 lengths of 3/4" PVC schedule 40, 10 feet long
- 2 3/4" 90 degree elbows
- 2 3/4" Tee fittings
- 2 pieces rebar approximately 3' long - if your banner will be displayed outdoors over soft ground
- Rope, tie wraps, bungee cords or ball bungees to fasten the banner to the frame
Parts Needed For Optional Feet
- 2 3/4" Tee fittings
- 4 lengths of 3/4" PVC pipe 12-18" long
- 4 3/4" end caps
- PVC ratcheting pipe cutter or hacksaw with a fine-tooth blade
- Tape Measure
The parts detail above may be considered the minimum for a 3' x 5' banner. The actual parts you'll need will depend on the size frame you need, as well as options desired, such as a base with feet. With an understanding of basic construction, we recommend you draw out your banner frame with dimensions to determine parts needed in advance.
Test fit an elbow on the PVC and note how far the pipe goes into the fitting. This amount will need to be accounted for when planning where to cut the PVC pipe if your measurements are critical. Typically the pipe will slip into the fitting about 9/16 of an inch. If you have a 3' x 5' banner for example, you'll want to add about 2" to the width and height to account for the portion of the PVC that will be inside the slip fittings.
To plan your banner frame, you'll need to know the finished height and width of your banner. The method you plan to use to mount or hang the banner may also affect the desired height and width. If your banner will be finished with typical hems and grommets, the measurements aren't as critical compared to banners made with pole pockets. With grommets, you can use bungees, tie wraps, or rope to fasten the banner, so your chosen fastener will compensate for a banner frame that's a bit taller or wider than the trimmed banner. If you're unsure of the actual lengths needed for your banner, you're better off leaving the pipe lengths a bit longer than you may think since you can always cut the pipe down subsequently if needed.
If you prefer pole pockets, we strongly recommend that you use pole pockets on the top and grommets or velcro for the bottom.
To maximize utilization and minimize waste, determine the length of all pieces needed and plan each cut before cutting. PVC pipe typically comes in 10' long sections. For our sample 3' x 5' banner stand, we'll cut each 120" long pipe as follows
62 + 38 + 20 = 120
The 62" long pieces will be the top and bottom frame pieces. The 38" long will be the left and right sides. The 20" long pieces will be risers to elevate the frame above ground level. These will slip over rebar or attach to the optional base / feet.
Cut the Frame Pieces
Once you've planned all your cuts, mark the pipe and cut each piece per your plan. The PVC pipe can be cut with a fine tooth hacksaw or a ratchet type PVC pipe cutter. The PVC pipe cutter is both cleaner and faster, and typically available for $10-$12.
The PVC slip fittings make assembly easy. These can be pressure fit; glue is not needed or recommended. To make assembly easier, you might want to lay out each pipe section on the floor or ground - with each associated connector laid out next to each pipe end. Doing so makes it easier to visualize the finished frame, and assembly on the ground is much easier than when standing.
Place an elbow on each end of one of the horizontal pipes - in our case, a 62" length pipe. Place a "T" fitting on each end of the other horizontal pipe. These should be oriented so that the pipe goes through the "T" end that has no pass through. If comparing the "T" fitting to the letter "T", this pipe would be inserted into the bottom, or vertical part of the "T".
Insert one of the vertical pipes into the elbow on one end a "T' fitting assembled in the previous step. In our example, these would be the 38" long pipe sections. Repeat with the remaining vertical pipe section.
Insert the riser pipes into the open ends of each of the "T" fittings. These risers are the shortest pipe sections - in our example, 20" long.
For outdoor events on relatively soft soil, rebar stakes can be used as upright supports. Drive a piece of rebar 12-18 inches into the ground and slide the PVC leg over the rebar at each end. For indoor events, or outdoor events on hard surfaces, a base or feet can be easily added.
In areas with heavy winds, there are a number of ways to make your banner stand more stable outdoors. Empty coffee cans can be filled with concrete around a larger diameter PVC that's oriented vertically in the center of the concrete filled can. In this instance, the weighted coffee cans are positioned and the banner stand legs are inserted into the vertical supports.
Another alternative in windy areas is to create a more substantial base. Instead of using end caps on the feet, use elbow fittings and insert a lateral front and back support also made of PVC pipe. Inexpensive tent stakes can be put over the pipe and pounded into the ground, or for hard surfaces, weights can be placed over the legs. This could be sandbags, bricks, dumbbells, a water cooler, or whatever you have available.
Your PVC banner frame is easily broken down for transport and storage. To make reassembly easier, we recommend leaving the fittings on one end of its associated pipe. These fittings will serve as a clue to make assembly easier subsequently. In use, we have found the easiest way to leave assembly clues is to disassemble the frame in a zig-zag manner. Starting from the top left, leave the elbow connector on the horizontal support. On the upper right, leave the other elbow on the right vertical support. Leave the "T" connector on the bottom of the left vertical support, then leave the other "T" connector on the right leg. In this manner, you don't have to guess which parts connect with which - just match elbow to elbow, "T" fitting to "T" fitting and it all comes together for you without much thought.
If your banner stand will have feet, the end caps can be considered optional. However, the "T" fitting raises the center of the feet beneath the riser, so the base will be a bit wobbly without the end caps to raise the ends to the same height as the center.
An illustration of the banner frame referenced in this article is available here.
If all this sounds too complicated, you are welcome to come by our shop. We frequently have a 3' x 5' banner PVC banner frame on-hand.