Easily Upcycle PVC Pipes Into Functional Toilet Paper Storage

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You've finished doing your business and reach out to grab a few squares of paper, but, horror of horrors, the roll is empty. You look frantically around the room, scanning for spare rolls. There are none. What do you do now? Don't let your family or, worse, your guests down! Instead, test your maker skills with this genius toilet paper storage solution. It's a project perfect for DIY newbies, though pro DIYers will also get a kick out of the versatility. All you'll need to complete this simple project are a few half-inch PVC pipes in various configurations — straight tubes, elbows, T-shaped joiners, and pipe caps — and maybe a pipe cutter and a power drill. Plus, the modifications are endless — for example, you can paint your creation or use fancier plumbing pipe materials like copper.

PVC pipe is like Legos. The lengths of pipe and their various connectors form a flexible system. Every house is different, so plumbers need options when rerouting water within a property. Parts fit together without the need for glue, screws, or lots of drilling and hammering. In fact, you barely have anything at all outside of the pipes themselves to complete this project. PVC is also extremely hardwearing and water-resistant, making it the ideal material for use in the humid environment that is our bathrooms. Oh, and did we mention plastic pipes are dirt cheap and 100% recyclable? You don't need to feel guilty if you get bored with your creation down the line.

Get making

The simplest way to make a PVC pipe toilet roll holder is to make one that screws into the wall, as showcased by Commando Designs on YouTube. This version uses a half-inch diameter pipe and fits three toilet paper rolls. You'll need one elbow connector, two T-connectors, and four pipe caps. You'll also need five 5-inch lengths of pipe and one 2-inch length. Home Depot has 10-foot lengths of half-inch white PVC pipe for $4.71, and you can get a three-pack of the same size pipe in 40-inch lengths for $22.99 at Walmart. Bonus: They have many fun color options! Get the fittings where you buy the pipe to ensure they match.

It's time for assembly. Measure and mark your cuts, and make the cuts with a tubing cutter. Two 5-inch pipe pieces connect to one T-connector (in the middle) with two elbows (either end). Connect the three 5-inch pipe pieces to this structure, forming the letter "E." Attach all the caps. Drill two holes into the "back" of the E, about 1 inch from the elbow at one end and the cap at the other. Use these to mount your toilet roll holder to the wall using either screws, picture hooks, or tiny 3M Command hooks. The rolls slide over the horizontal tubes sticking out from the wall. You can make this holder as long or short as you like, though the device will get too bulky for most bathrooms once you add five or so rolls.

Alternative designs and materials

There are so many handy ways to repurpose extra PVC pipes into roll holders; the type of holder you create is only limited by your imagination. There are free-standing holders with a base of five pipe lengths and some end caps. A T-connector joins this to a vertical pole topped with another short horizontal bar designed to hold a single roll. Make a sturdy tabletop version where the horizontal bar holding your roll sits atop a box-like base. Stick with a half-inch diameter pipe no matter what style you go with. It fits the cardboard tube inside your toilet roll best, giving it enough room to turn without sticking when someone pulls on the paper.

If you want to increase the price and longevity of this holder, use cast iron or copper plumbing pipes, with the latter being pricier — though arguably far more beautiful — than the former. After all, it's easier to make exposed pipes look chic when they're made of high-end materials. The measurements translate directly to PVC piping, and the toilet roll holder assembly instructions are the same for plastic or metal pipes. The only issue you might run into is that cutting lengths to size outside the hardware store could be challenging, depending on how equipped your home workshop is. You can buy 10-foot lengths of half-inch copper pipe from Menard's for $16.30. Amazon sells a six-pack of GeilSpace half-inch dark grey steel pipes (12-inch lengths) for $23.99.