Are PVC Table Legs A DIY Solution That Carries Weight?

There are near-endless handy ways to repurpose extra PVC pipes in your home and garden, from hanging bird feeders and creating vertical gardens to even crafting a new dining table. But do PVC piping legs stand up to everyday use? The short answer is yes; they're certainly sturdy enough to hold up even a heavy solid wood tabletop that's used regularly. The longer answer — or, more aptly, the exciting conundrum for a passionate DIYer — involves thinking of all the ways to decoratively transform fresh from the factory water pipe so it doesn't look like you took down your guttering to make a piece of furniture.

The weight-bearing strength of PVC pipe depends on a wide array of factors including the diameter, the length, the thickness of the walls, the specific PVC it's made of, and how the lengths are connected. Even the practices of the company that manufactured the pipe make a difference. Generally, it has excellent lateral compression strength, and a standard plumbing pipe (that is, a 1.5-inch diameter Schedule 40 pipe) can withstand weights of over 200 pounds without breaking. 

But you also need to consider the tensile strength of PVC piping. For example, a half-inch Schedule 40 pipe has a tensile strength of 264 pounds, which means it can handle a force of up to 264 pounds before cracking. By contrast, an 8-inch Schedule 80 pipe can withstand 17,332 pounds. Obviously, though, few tabletops weigh this much.

Pipe type and quantities

PVC pipes are designed to withstand bursts of pressure — flows of water from a toilet being flushed or a faucet turning on and off — rather than continuous strain. Despite this, PVC table legs should be able to handle even heavy household use. In an experiment by drainage contractor and YouTuber Apple Drains, PVC piping was run over by a work truck to make it crack (though you still should think twice before mowing over essential plumbing pipes). If you're worried, choose Schedule 80 rather than Schedule 40 PVC pipes — they have a higher pressure rating. Schedule 120 pipes are even sturdier but are primarily used in industrial settings and are overkill for this project.

The diameter and length of pipes you need depend on the table style. For example, passionate DIYer and YouTuber Hannah Buchman used two 1-inch by 8-foot lengths of PVC pipe and some end caps to create a steel pipe-lookalike outdoor patio table. She spent far less money than it would cost to use metal poles but with the same result. 

You'll need four 28-inch lengths of 1-inch PVC pipe and four matching table caps with screw tabs and end caps to craft a statement dining table for your kitchen similar to what industrial supplier and piping specialist PVC Fittings Online made. Want to craft something for the kids? This Frugal Fun For Boys and Girls sensory table requires just four ¾-inch by 10-foot lengths of PVC pipe, a bunch of elbow, cross, and T-joints, and four caps.

Add the finishing touches

A bigger concern is how to make the chunky plastic legs look sleek enough that you'll actually want to use any furniture you craft with them in your home. In the video above, TikToker @honeytnr cleverly covers the PVC pipe legs of her DIY entryway console table in a smoothing compound left textured and unpainted. Of course, you could modify this tip simply by sanding the compound smooth and painting it in your hue (or hues) of choice. Smoothing compound is usually used to level walls or ceilings, so it's made to be paintable. 

You can also paint directly onto the PVC itself. Just be sure to use a heavily pigmented, water-based (not oil-based) exterior latex paint to get the coverage you need. Ideally, sand the PVC first with 180 or 220-grit sandpaper for better adhesion. When it comes to tabletop materials, the DIY aisle is brimming with possibilities. sells round (10-inch diameter) unfinished solid maple wood tabletops for $132.77 each. For $80.00, you can get a 30 by 60-inch rounded-edge square reversible black laminate tabletop from Restaurant Seating

The 26.3-inch diameter round VidaXL marble tabletop, available for $154.99 at Walmart, is perfect for patio or balcony furniture. You might already have an old table with busted legs you saved to upcycle. Another option is checking out thrift stores for affordable tables you can remove the legs from or even requesting old tables on your local Buy Nothing group — they have a group finder on their website.