Last updated: June 23

How to Build a Kayak Rack

If you have a lakefront property or live near the lake, then you probably use a kayak to cruise through water and have some fun. However, owning a kayak can be troublesome if you don’t have a suitable place to store it. This problem can be easily solved with a DIY kayak rack.

Why Build a Kayak Rack

Most people with a kayak realize the importance of a rack to store it. They know that a kayak rack is needed to prevent the wear and tear of the kayak. Perhaps, the best storage solutions for kayaks are wooden racks; they are attractive and can be used outdoors.

Now, the most important thing for you to decide is whether you want to buy a ready-made kayak rack or build one from scratch. Buying a rack is a good idea only if you have a reasonable amount of money to spare. This is because you will have very few options if you want to buy a kayak rack under $1000.

On the other hand, if you opt for a DIY kayak rack, you can build a customized rack within your budget. This means that how can design the rack any way you want without spending exorbitant amounts to make it possible.

How to Build a Kayak Rack

So, we know that there are several advantages of DIY kayak rack over buying a ready-made kayak rack, but how do you build a kayak rack? We will explain this here. Following is the material list and a step-by-step guide for building a kayak rack.

Material List

Listed below are the materials you will need to build the kayak rack:

Once you have these materials with you, you can start building the kayak rack.

Step 1: Cut the Pieces of PVC to Appropriate Lengths

The first step to build a kayak rack is cutting the PVC pieces to appropriate lengths, which means that the PVC pipe needs to be cut into the following:

  • 10 three-inch pieces
  • 2 forty-eight inch pieces
  • 6 Six-inch pieces
  • 2 thirty-inch pieces
  • 4 twelve-inch pieces
  • 2 seventeen-inch pieces
  • 4 fifteen-inch pieces

Once the PVC pipe is cut to the lengths listed above, you can start building the base of the rack.

Step 2: Build The Rack’s Base

When building the rack’s base, make sure that you do not use cement for this purpose. Instead, dry-fit the things listed below to ensure the rack fits into your kayaks. Also, since the rack has two ends, make sure that you build two bases.

  • Fit the two fifteen-inch pieces into a T joint
  • Fix an elbow joint on each end
  • Insert a three-inch piece on the top of the elbow

Once the base of the rack is built, you can start building it vertically.

Step 3: Build the Rack Vertically

The kayak rack needs to be built vertically in the following steps:

  • Insert a seventeen-inch piece from the T-joint’s top into the base
  • On top of this, fix a T joint. Make sure it points towards the center. The forty-eight-inch pipe will be used to tie the ends of this piece together
  • On top of the T, attach a six-inch piece
  • Fix another T joint and make sure it points towards the center. The forty-eight-inch pipe will be used to tie the ends of this piece together

Once the rack is built vertically, you can start to build the top of the rack.

Step 4: Build the Rack’s Top

You can build the top part of the kayak rack in the following steps:

  • At the top of the T joint, fix a three-inch piece
  • Fix another T joint. It should be attached in the same direction as the T joint in the base
  • Fix two twelve-inch pieces from the T joint’s top. They should be attached horizontally to the ground
  • Fix the elbow joints on the ends
  • On each elbow’s top, inset a three-inch piece pointing upwards
  • Span the center using two forty eight-inch pieces to carefully fix the two ends of the rack

Step 5: Make Adjustments and Join it All Together

The fifth and final step to build a kayak rack is making required adjustments and then joining the different parts of the rack together. It is important to make sure that all the different pieces attach comfortably and in a secure manner.

Once you have done this, you can place your kayak on the rack. However, make sure you do this gently. After your kayak or kayaks are on the rack, you can start making the required adjustments to it. After you’ve made the adjustments and are completely sure that the rack will fulfill your needs, you can take the rack apart and start cementing the pieces. Make sure that the cement is applied to both pieces of each joint.

Another important thing that you need to do is to pay attention to your T joint’s direction. This is because, after you have inserted the pieces, you will only a few seconds to ensure that they have fitted properly. You can measure, cut, and fix the insulation tube after you have rebuilt the kayak.

This will help secure your kayak. You can use either cable ties or duct tape to secure the tube into position. Additionally, if needed, you can tie the rack to cinder blocks or weigh it down with water.

There you have it—the steps to build a Kayak rack. Not only is DIY kayak rack is easy to build, but it also costs far less than buying a ready-made kayak rack. Additionally, you can replace it when needed. What more can you ask for?

Some Ready-Made Kayak Rack Options to Consider

If you don’t want to build a DIY kayak rack, then we won’t force you to do that. Instead, we are going to provide you with some ready-made kayak rack options. You can pick the options that suit your budget and needs.

Before we start, it is important to inform you that there are a limited number of kayaks on the market that can carry the burden of loading and unloading kayaks. However, you will have to spend some serious amount of money to get your hands on them. An example of this is the Thule Hullavator.

Comprising two kayak holders that can be lowered over your car’s side, the Hullavator can make it extremely easy to load and unload your kayaks. However, the cost is $600 per holder. This means that the total cost of the holders is $1,200. This doesn’t include the cost of the base rack. If this cost is added, then you have to pay approximately $1,500 to get your hands on the Thule Hullavator.

If you’re looking for something slightly less expensive, then you can go for a kayak specific trailer. The typical price for this is around $1,200. However, some manufacturers offer it for about $900 without any accessories. If you want a rack that can hold two kayaks, then you will have to pay around $1,500. In our opinion, this is not feasible.

However, in the search for ‘DIY kayak trailer’, you will find many eye-catching rigs. Quite a few of these are built on the Heavy Duty 4′ x 8′ Harbor Freight Foldable Trailer. Visit a local Harbor Freight store to get one for less than $300. You can also buy it on the manufacturer’s website and have it shipped to your place. Use the site’s shipping estimator to determine the cost. This will be based on your zip code.

Once it is shipped to your place, you can customize fit the solid steel platform with PVC or aluminum pipes and some lumber based on your needs. Your DIY kayak trailer will act as your hauling machine, and you can attach as many kayaks as needed. You can check eBay for a set of four kayak carriers for less than $50 with free shipping. Featuring solid hardware, the carriers made of powder-coated steel. They are rust-free and can last for a very long time. They can easily be compared to the big brands, and yet their cost is four to five times less.


As seen above, it is quite easy to build a kayak rack, and it costs far less than buying a kayak rack on the market. However, if you think it is too much work, then you can choose a ready-made kayak rack from the options provided above.

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Always Make Sure You Have the Right Gear When You Go Kayaking