A few years ago, the Vice President of Special Projects built my first free-standing party backdrop from PVC pipe. You can see it in use in my Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Party. This system — sometimes called a pipe and drape system — is terrific because it allows you to put a backdrop anywhere you need it. I used it again in a different configuration for my Snow Cone Stand, and I’m sharing my tricks with you today!

If you need a party backdrop that is:

  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Re-configurable
  • Inexpensive …

then you must try this PVC pipe system!

Supplies

  • 1-inch x 4-foot PVC pipe – 4
  • 1″ T-connectors – 6
  • 1″ elbow connectors – 2
  • Miter box and saw

Optional Supplies

  • 2-inch x 3-foot PVC pipe – 2
  • 2-inch x 4-foot PVC pipe – 1
  • 2″ T-connectors – 2
  • 2″ elbow connectors – 2

DSC_0493

Decide …

Decide on the scale of your PVC pipe scaffolding. The pipe comes in 4-foot sections and 10-foot sections. My standard set-up is 3.5 feet wide, which means the VP had to trim the 4-foot sections with a miter saw. That’s actually pretty easy. The miter saw helps you cut a straight line.

Honestly, it would be easier to make it 4 feet wide and avoid some pipe cutting, so that’s how I’ve written these tutorials. (If you need a backdrop that’s wider than four feet, you may want to insert vertical supports in the center to give the backdrop more stability.)

Decide if your backdrop needs to be free-standing or will lean against a wall. Either way, your frame will be the same. However, you’ll create a different base.

Build the Frame – Freestanding Version

This version is good for a narrow space when you can brace the backdrop with something like a dessert table. This will give you a backdrop that is roughly 4-foot x 6-foot.

DSC_0001

  1. Trim your pipe to size using the miter box and saw. We used four 4-foot pipes for the horizontal sections and eight 1.5-foot pipes for the vertical sections.
  2. Start at the bottom with two 1.5-foot sections. Add a T-connector to each 1.5-foot section by twisting until you have a firm connection.
  3. Now, add a 4-foot section horizontally between the two T-connectors.
  4. Add two more 1.5-foot sections in the T-connections and another 4-foot section.
  5. Add two more 1.5-foot sections in the T-connections and your third 4-foot section.
  6. Add two more 1.5-foot sections in the T-connections. Top those with the two elbow connectors and add your final 4-foot section. If you want to hang a drape from the top horizontal pipe, obviously slide the drape onto the pipe before you twist the 4-foot pipe into the elbow connectors.

Tip: In the photo with the purple polka dot backdrop, I selected a curtain at WalMart and hung it upside down from the bottom hem. (The top hem is meant for a standard curtain rod and is too narrow for the 1 inch pipe.) You also could use 45 or 54 inch fabric, drape it over the top pipe, and safety pin it to itself by wrapping it up and around the second pipe from the top.

Pipe and drape system - purple curtain

Build the Frame – Back Brace Version

This version is what I built for our snow cone stand. It is probably the most stable base design, but the upright section is not as strong because there is only one cross-support. It also requires the most space and you will need the optional supplies. This will give you a backdrop that is roughly 4-foot x 5.5-foot, but of course you can add an additional 1.5-foot vertical section for a taller backdrop.

IMG_2646

  1. Trim your pipe to size using the miter box and saw. We used two 1.5-foot pipes for the vertical sections.
  2. Start at the bottom with the 2-inch x 4-foot pipe, laying it on the ground to be the back of the base. Add elbow connectors on either end.
  3. In the elbow connectors, add the 2-inch x 3-foot pipe. Now you should have a lowercase “n” shape.
  4. Add two 2-inch T-connectors to the two 3-foot pipes.
  5. Now, add two, 1-inch x 4-foot sections upright in the two T-connectors. Top these with two more T-connectors. Turn these connectors to the back, which I forgot to do. (So sad!)
  6. Add two 1.5-foot sections in the T-connectors. Top these with two elbow connectors.
  7. Add the top 4-foot section in between the elbow connectors.

PVC Pipe Party Backdrop - Back Brace Style

DSC_0191

Build the Frame – Feet-Brace Version

You may want to try this style if you need a free-standing frame but don’t have the space for the back-brace version. This style allows you tuck the front feet under your dessert table, so they are hidden while providing you stability. This will give you a backdrop that is roughtly 4-foot x 5.5-foot.

DSC_0502

  1. Trim your pipe to size using the miter box and saw. We used four 4-foot pipes for the horizontal sections and eight 1.5-foot pipes for the vertical sections.
  2. Start at the bottom with two T-connectors. Add two, 1.5-foot pipes to each T-connector.
  3. Now, add a 4-foot section vertically to each T-connector. Top each 4-foot section with another T-connector.
  4. Add a 4-foot section horizontally between the T-connectors.
  5. Add two more 1.5-foot sections in the T-connections. Top each with an elbow connectors and add your final 4-foot section.

How to build party backdrop - two feet base style

You Can Do It! Signature

Don't miss my FREE Party Planning Cheat Sheets!

Get the 8 worksheets I use to plan all my parties + my party prep checklist, day of the party schedule, and recommended party vendors.

Plus, you'll get all the latest blog posts from The Party Teacher.

(And of course, I'll never sell or share your email.)

You have successfully subscribed! Thanks for joining the party!