How to Build a Kayak Rack the Right Way

Having a kayak rack is essential for any kayaker, as it is one of the most efficient methods of kayak storage. While some people choose to purchase a ready-made kayak rack, others prefer to build one to their specifications and so we’ve put together a step by step guide on how to build a kayak rack.

This article provides the steps on how to build a kayak rack using a lightweight rack as an example. This DIY kayak rack is movable, so you can easily remove it from the water for safekeeping indoors during the winter or cold months.

how to build a kayak rack

Every kayaker needs a way to safely store their kayaks all year round and you’ll learn how to do so in this quick guide. Remember when storing your kayak, it is best to store them upside down or on their sides to prevent damages to the hull.

How to Build a Kayak Rack: Dimensions

The dimensions of the kayak storage rack we’ll be building are 39” W X 54” L X 42” H. These dimensions support three kayaks at a distance of 4 feet apart. The rack can support a kayak as small as 6 feet long and as big as 8.6 feet long.

If you want to store a kayak bigger than these dimensions, you can simply work out the ratio and add more inches to your rack accordingly.

This kayak rack is great for kayakers with young children, as the kids can remove and replace their kayaks on the rack without adult assistance. The dimensions also ensure that the kayaks sit less than 4 feet from the ground, making it a great universal kayak storage rack.

How to Build a Kayak Rack: Steps

Step 1: Gather the Materials

You will need the following materials to create your kayak rack:

  • Eight 2-inch PVC T fittings
  • 24 feet of 2-inch black PVC pipe
  • Eight 2-inch 90-degree elbow joints
  • 10 feet of foam pipe insulation tubes
  • PVC cement or glue
  • Cable ties or duct tape

Step 2: Cut the PVC Pipes into Appropriate Lengths

Use a tape measure and a miter saw to ensure you cut your PVC pipes into the following lengths and amounts:

  • Two 30-inch pieces
  • Two 48-inch pieces
  • Four 15-inch pieces
  • Two 17-inch pieces
  • Six 6-inch pieces
  • Four 15-inch pieces
  • Two 17-inch pieces
  • Ten 3-inch pieces

Step 3: Build the Rack’s Base

It is important to dry-fit everything and make sure that your kayak fits nicely in the rack before using cement or glue. You have to create the two ends of your kayak rack by building the two bases first.

  • Take the two 5-inch pieces and attach them to a T joint
  • Attach an elbow joint on each end
  • Insert the 3-inch piece on top of the elbow

Step 4: Build the Rack Vertically

  • Insert one piece of the 17-inch pipe into the top of the T joint located at the base of the kayak
  • Next, attach the T joint above it. The T joint should be facing the middle. This is the piece that receives the 48-inch piece when the ends are connected
  • Attach a 6-inch piece to the top of the T joint
  • Attach another T joint. This joint will also face the middle. It is the second piece that receives the 48-inch pipe to connect the ends

Step 5: Build the Top of the Rack

  • Attach a 3-inch pipe piece to the top of the T joint
  • Another T joint should be added to the growing rack. It must face the same direction as the T joint on the base of the kayak rack
  • Next, you should attach two horizontal cross bar 12-inch PVC pipe pieces to the top of the T Joint.
  • Attach the elbow joints to both ends
  • Insert the 3-inch piece at the top of each elbow. They should be facing up just like the base
  • Use the two 48-inch pieces to connect both ends of the rack

How to Build a Kayak Rack: Final Touches and Adjustments

Your DIY kayak storage rack should look complete at this point. You have to make sure that all the pieces of PVC piping are snug in their fittings. Before gluing and making any connections permanent, you should place your kayak onto the rack. If there are any adjustments to be made, take note of them and make the necessary adjustments with the kayak still on the rack.

Once you are pleased with the look of things, you’ll have to take the entire kayak apart from the last step to the first.  As soon as this is done, you can start putting the DIY kayak rack back together, but this time you will cement the pieces together. Ensure that both ends of each joint have cement applied to it.

Also, you must pay attention to the directions that your PVC T fittings face. With the cement applied, you only have a few seconds to make any alterations so do this step carefully and quickly, and make sure the joints are properly fitted.

Next, you want to measure the pipe insulation tube once you have rebuilt the kayak rack. Attach the insulation tube to the kayak. The function of the insulation tube is to protect your kayak when you place it on the rack. Replacing your insulation tube is a lot cheaper than having to repair or replace multiple kayaks with damage.

With your tube in place, you can secure it using cable ties, ratchet straps, or duct tape. If you want to weigh the rack down, you can place water in the tubes or tie the rack to cinder blocks.

Bottom Line

If you have followed these steps outlined above, you should have your very own homemade, inexpensive kayak rack in no time. This will protect multiple kayaks and keep them useful for a very long time.

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