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PVC construction advice

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PVC construction advice

Post  emeryjay on 5/8/2016, 5:05 pm

I'm building boxes (4x4 and 4x8) to be used in my late garden here in Zone 9 between Daytona Beach and Orlando. I found some great plans to build the SFG on legs at the the University of Florida Extension Service. I first considered cedar, but a friend (a construction engineer) suggested trying 1/2 inch PVC plywood. It looks very sturdy.
Here are my questions:

1. On the side boards, should I consider using 2 pieces of 1/2 in screwed together in place of 2x6s or 2x8s? Or even 3? The reason I'm asking about 3: I want to put something close to 1x4 as a rail around the top of each bed. If I put 2 or 3 pieces,of 1/2 together it would be almost like like plywood laminated joists used in some construction.

Consider the nature of Mel's Mix I may be over engineering it. I may really be over thinking it. 

2. I'm also thinking about substituting a combination of very heavy woven landscaping cloth and 16 gauge rabbit wire with a 1 inch grid instead of a plywood bottom To support the wire, I will use something like a 2x2 around the inside perimeter at the bottom. I may also need a cross support at the 2 foot mark. I figure I'll need supports every two feet with the 8-foot bed.

If I use cedar, no painting is required. If I use lumber, my wife says she wants it painted. 

Thanks for taking the time if you have ideas.
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  bigdogrock on 5/8/2016, 6:11 pm

Hello Emeryjay, I have worked with the PVC boards, but I would heed the cautions about non-load bearing.  The stuff is very similar to wood when it comes to cutting and such, but it does bend a lot more that regular wood. I am not sure that it will hold a straight line unless you brace it at close intervals. It will hold up to the weather, water, etc., but it bends to easily, which will cause you problems.
     I hope that helps you out, let us know what you end up doing, we like pictures too. Rock
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  Mikesgardn on 5/8/2016, 6:57 pm

PVC boards can't be used to support much of anything, and they are awfully expensive.  They are great for trim on a house though!   No more painting.
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  sanderson on 5/8/2016, 8:07 pm

I tried to send an extensive reply but my computer locked up! affraid I quickly copied it, thank goodness.

Emeryjay, Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here We call SFG on legs "table tops" (TT). If you enter table top in the Search box you will find several threads on folk's table tops. A 4' x 8' TT filled with wet Mel's Mix (the soil-less medium or MM we use) can weigh a lot so weight-bearing and stability are concerns. All of my beds are TTs but they are only 2' wide regardless of the length. It would be great if you could post a photo of the desired box or the link to the Extension site. You can't post links for 7 days but if you could type the "click ons" within the web site.
. . . .
Rock, I'm glad you replied regarding the weight-bearing issue with PVC sheeting.
. . .

Since your beds will be 4' wide, I'm thinking to build a floor joist set on 16" centers but without the bearer (stock photo)

Secure heavy gauge wire mesh / hardware cloth to the top rims with Romex nails (stock photo)

Add a frame of 2 layers of 2" x 4" or a single 2' x 8' on edge and set on the floor joist set to contain the MM. Use a 4' x 8' sheet of 1/2" PVC sheeting trimmed to 45" x 93" to fit inside the perimeter of the box or a 1" thick piece of insulation Styrofoam to save weight. (Set down on the metal mesh)

Poke the recommended drainage holes and line with weed fabric to prevent loss of MM. Set everything on notched treated 4" x 4' or 4" x 6" legs and secure sides to legs with carriage bolts. Other folks have used cinder blocks, plain or painted, as the "legs". Seal the pine/fir with a clear sealant to give it a "cedar" tint. This is my latest bed without stain. See if your wife likes the look. My husband used 3/4" plywood as the bottoms so I don't need a floor joist set.

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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  sanderson on 5/8/2016, 8:10 pm

Mike and Rock,  Would you agree that for a TT that size, 2" x 4" studs or 2" x 8" as siding would be sturdier?  I know I love mine.  They are like brick outhouses.  Course, the very widest is 2.5' with all the others 2'.


Last edited by sanderson on 5/9/2016, 5:33 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : emoticon error)

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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  bigdogrock on 5/8/2016, 8:14 pm

Much sturdier, the PVC will bend out with very little force. Rock
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  trolleydriver on 5/8/2016, 8:46 pm

@sanderson wrote:Mike and Rock,  Would you agree that for a TT that size, 2" x 4 (Cool" / studs as siding would be sturdier?  I know I love mine.  They are like brick outhouses.  Course, the very widest is 2.5' with all the others 2'.

I will be using "the sanderson tried and trusted method" when I build my Table Top. Hopefully that will be soon.
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  sanderson on 5/9/2016, 5:36 am

I just realized that I have an emoticon error. I meant to type (Cool and instead a cool dude or stud showed up next to the word stud. Embarassed

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More on my TT idea (was PVC construction advice)

Post  emeryjay on 5/9/2016, 10:12 am

@trolleydriver wrote:
sande wrote:They are like brick outhouses.
I've abandoned the idea of using PVC plywood. It's good for trim on a home.

I like the joist idea for supporting the 16 gauge wire, particularly for the 4x8. Now I just need to find a good grade of non-toxic paint or stain.

The plans are here: (just add the http to your browser) orange.ifas.ufl.edu/res_hort/pdffiles/Factsheets/010%20How%20to%20Build%20an%20Elevated%20Square%20Foot%20Garden.pdf

Here is a photo
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  plantoid on 5/9/2016, 1:20 pm

@emeryjay wrote:I'm building boxes (4x4 and 4x8) to be used in my late garden here in Zone 9 between Daytona Beach and Orlando. I found some great plans to build the SFG on legs at the the University of Florida Extension Service. I first considered cedar, but a friend (a construction engineer) suggested trying 1/2 inch PVC plywood. It looks very sturdy.
Here are my questions:

1. On the side boards, should I consider using 2 pieces of 1/2 in screwed together in place of 2x6s or 2x8s? Or even 3? The reason I'm asking about 3: I want to put something close to 1x4 as a rail around the top of each bed. If I put 2 or 3 pieces,of 1/2 together it would be almost like like plywood laminated joists used in some construction.

Consider the nature of Mel's Mix I may be over engineering it. I may really be over thinking it. 

2. I'm also thinking about substituting a combination of very heavy woven landscaping cloth and 16 gauge rabbit wire with a 1 inch grid instead of a plywood bottom To support the wire, I will use something like a 2x2 around the inside perimeter at the bottom. I may also need a cross support at the 2 foot mark. I figure I'll need supports every two feet with the 8-foot bed.

If I use cedar, no painting is required. If I use lumber, my wife says she wants it painted. 

Thanks for taking the time if you have ideas.

OK I know  I live in Great Britain & things might be different  to your side of thepond
I was hoping to make some big 36 x 36 x 36 high  high planters on castors for flowers & herbs to put on the back concreted drive 16 x5 yards & the 6 x 6 yard square patio area out of solid man made plastic substitute no rot wood stuff ... I nearly had heart attack when I costed it out , it's five times the cost of 1" thick Western Red Cedar & the 4 x 4 " legs .
I'd have had to take out a mortgage on this place just to buy the plastic let alone buy the marine grade  stainless steel  screws & coacxh bolts etc. bolts to make them .
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  yolos on 5/9/2016, 3:24 pm

@emeryjay wrote:
@trolleydriver wrote:
sande wrote:They are like brick outhouses.
I've abandoned the idea of using PVC plywood. It's good for trim on a home.

I like the joist idea for supporting the 16 gauge wire, particularly for the 4x8. Now I just need to find a good grade of non-toxic paint or stain.

The plans are here: (just add the http to your browser) orange.ifas.ufl.edu/res_hort/pdffiles/Factsheets/010%20How%20to%20Build%20an%20Elevated%20Square%20Foot%20Garden.pdf

Here is a photo
That address did not work for me so I searched the UFLA website and found the fact sheet.
http://orange.ifas.ufl.edu/res_hort/pdffiles/Factsheets/010%20How%20to%20Build%20an%20Elevated%20Square%20Foot%20Garden.pdf
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Re: PVC construction advice

Post  plantoid on 5/9/2016, 3:52 pm

If you make a similar raised bed to the above destructions .....
Take care to see that the core / heart side of the wood grain faces on to whatever it is being screwed to  . This helps stop the timber curling out at the outer edges as the moisture of the wood changes .

Always drill your screw holes and counter sink them to stop splitting the ends of the wood  ,as well as using a smaller pilot hole to drill the main wood to allow the screw to follow the correct line and not split the wood as well .
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