Do It Yourself Vinyl Planter Boxes
April 21, 2011Posted by on
UPDATE: I finally got around taking pictures of the boxes and you can see them at the end of the post.
Have you ever wanted to buy one of those nifty vinyl planter boxes or window boxes that look something like this:
Looks great, doesn’t rot and can be painted the color you want.
Yeah I know the problem is the price tag of over $91 for just one of them.
Well my mother wanted to buy and put some boxes onto her raised deck so that she could have some color on that side of her house. This deck sits about 5.5 ft up off the ground with a crawl space underneath with lattice-work enclosing that crawl space. Up on the deck she has a collapsible screen porch she puts up each summer that has her deck furniture. When you look out the long side of it you see the deck rail, then the next door neighbor’s house. So a couple of planters attached to the deck would make a nice addition.
Now I’m not the worlds greatest handyman but I knew I could make something decent for her at a fraction of what it would cost her to buy four of those boxes, So off to Lowes and Home Depot I went and got the materials I needed. I was able to make four (4) 30″L x 5.75″w x 9.25″D boxes.
Here is the material list with a link to see the specs on the material used:
(2) 3/4in x 9-1/4in x 12ft vinyl pvc boards at $48.47 ea:
(1) 3/4in x 9-1/4in x 8ft vinyl pvc board at $32.88 ea:
(1) 3/4in x 7-1/4in x 12ft vinyl pvc board at $38.68 ea:
(2) Loctite 6.7 oz Power Grab All-Purpose Construction Adhesive Squeeze Tube at $3.99 ea:
(1) Package of 100ct #6 x 1-1/2″ Flat Head Phillips wood screws at $5.58:
Saw: You can use a hand saw but I recommend a circular saw. Warning after making some cuts you will notice that the vinyl will start sticking to your blade and causing the blade to bind. What is happening is the cut vinyl is starting to melt and stick to the blade from friction heat. This is a n easy fix but takes some time, just take the blade off and use a razor scraper to scrape off the stuck on vinyl. Reattach your blade and away you go.
Ok now that you got the materials needed to make the boxes. It will take about 3 days to be on the safe side to make the boxes.
It is time to cut to fit your boards. First take one of the 12ft long 9-1/4″ boards and cut four 30″ length boards out of it. Then repeat the process with the second of the 12ft x 9-1/4″ boards. You should now have eight 30″ length boards. These boards will be the sides for you four boxes.
Now take the 12ft x 7-1/4″ board and cut four 31-1/2″ length boards out of it. These four boards are the bottoms for you boxes. Now take the lone 8ft length board and cut eight 7-1/4″ length boards out of it. This will be the ends to your four boxes.
Now that you have all your boards cut lets recap, you should have:
(8) 30″ x 9-1/4″ boards (Sides)
(8) 7-1/4″ x 9-1/4″ boards (Ends)
(4) 31-1/2″ x 7-1/4″ boards (bottoms)
Now take one of your bottom boards and one of your end boards and use the construction adhesive to attach them together (rough side out). The end board should sit on top of the bottom board and reach clear across the width (7-1/4″) of the bottom board. Now make sure you press down firmly when setting the end board onto the bottom board and do not be concerned by any adhesive that might squirt out, you can just wipe that up. Now repeat the above process for the rest of the bottom boards.
So you should have at one end of your bottom boards, sitting perpendicular to it, one end board. Now find a spot where these four bottom boards can sit where the adhesive can cure for 24hrs without something tipping the end board off kilter.
Now that 24hrs have passed that end board is now attached securely to the bottom board and can be used as your reference point for all the other boards. So take one of your 30″ long side boards and put a bead of adhesive on one end and another bead on the bottom edge of the board. Make sure when you put those beads on they line up so that the rough side of the board faces out. Now press the end of the side board firmly (but not too strongly) against the end board you set yesterday. Also press down firmly so that the top of the side board will be level with your end board. Wipe off any excess adhesive and repeat the process for all the other side boards and bottoms. Remember the side boards should be sitting on top of the bottom board.
You should now see the shape of the box appearing with one end board and both sides on. You should also notice that a 3/4″ stub of the bottom board is sticking out on the open end of the box. Wait for about 5 hrs for the adhesive you already used to put the side on to set a bit, then run a bead of adhesive along the edges of both side boards and on the bottom of one of your remaining end board. Press the end board onto that 3/4″ tab and wipe off any excess. Now repeat that process for the other three boxes.
Now you might notice that things don’t match up exactly between the end pieces and the side boards but that is ok, just run a bead of the adhesive on both the inside and outside of the joint. Once you do that just use your finger to smooth that bead out and fill in the cracks. This serves two purposes: First it will stop your soil and water from spilling out the sides and it will, when you paint your box, make the appearance of the box better. Now if you see a crack between the bottom board and the bottoms of your side boards that is not a big problem unless it is a very big crack and readily available. The reason for this is that you need drainage at the bottom of the box and that will help with this. Now let your four boxes sit for another 24hrs and let all the last adhesives you applied set.
Now that the adhesives have set completely it is time to put your bottom and side screws. I did this just for the added security so that I’m not relying on an adhesive only to hold all the weight, something that fancy $91 box does. It is a kit that is put together with glue only.
Now what I did was turn the box up side down and ran 6 screws down the length of the sides, with 1 screw basically sitting in each corner. Now remember that you side and end boards are 3/4 of an inch thick, that converts to 6/8 of an inch. So you want to place your screw in the middle of that edge so measure in to 3/8 of inch on your tape measure (for the corners make sure you take your measure from both the side and the end of the box) . Now you should mark a spot to drill a starter hole in each corner, then measure off as even as your can down the length of each side for the other 4 screws per side. Now on the ends, half way between you two corner marks, measure out and mark one spot each. That totals out to 14 spots marked for starter holes. Now repeat the process for all your boxes and once that is done take your drill and drill out starter holes. Now take fourteen #6 x 1-1/4″ screws and screw them into your starter holes, now repeat that for your other three boxes.
Now set your box on end and then measure and mark spots 3/8 of an inch in from the side and at one inch and 5 inch intervals from the open end (top) of the box. Do this for the other side so that you will have four spots marked for starter holes. Do this for all your boxes and then drill out the starter holes and then use your #6 x 1-1/4″ screws in them. Flip the boxes over and repeat the process for that end.
You have now built 4 boxes and they are ready for painting.
The material cost totals out to: $182.06 or $45.52 per box. That is half the price on a per box basis and yeah it’s not as fancy as the one shown you can buy vinyl trim moulding pieces for less than $2 that you can cut and attack to your box to fancy it up.
You can mount these boxes to sides of decks, mount them as window boxes or just let them sit on flat surfaces.
You can also make your boxes wider by changing out the bottom board of 3/4 x 7-1/4 x 12 for a third 3/4 x 9-1/4 x 12 board. You will also have to change the cut of the end boards from your 3/4in x 9-1/4in x 8ft board of four 7-1/4″ to four 9-1/4″. That will change the dimensions of your box from 30″L x 5.75″W x 9.25″D to 30″L x 7.75″W x 9.25″D. It will also increase your costs by $9.79.
I’ll take a picture of one of the boxes I made so you can see what it looks like and update the post.