Pipe Drops

Steven Hall from Northland Church in Longwood, Florida brings us this rain pattern of PVC pipes.

This set was pretty simple and has been successfully done quite a few times by others. Their goal was to create a look like versa tubes on a $300 budget. They used 125 pieces of 1.25″ white PVC (10′) pipe. They cut the pipe into 2′ and 4′ sections. They randomly placed the tubes vertically making a varied backdrop.

They built a jig that held their 10′ pipes and clearly marked where their cuts would be. They cut all the pipes into 125 2′ sections and 250 4′ sections. Cutting with the chop saw wasn’t very precise or clean, but extremely quick. Once they had all their 2′ and 4′ pieces cut, they drilled holes at the bottom and top of all the pipes to hang them from. The hardest thing with this set was getting rid of the printing on the PVC. After lots of experimenting with chemicals to get the paint off, they decided it would be best to just paint the pipe with white latex paint. Sounds easy until you realize there is 1250 feet of pipe that has to be painted in 3 passes to get the whole thing covered. They spent 2 full days (14 hours each) painting the pipe sections. It was a huge headache and they were covered head to toe in paint by the end.

The flew their truss to match the angle of their proscenium.

In their setup, they randomly laid out and hung the PVC pipes. They used 30 lbs fishing line (which was hands down Steven’s worst set fail ever). After a few weeks, random sets of pipe began to fall. It made for a cool evolving set, but wasn’t the best way to go about it. Since then when they have used tie line with great success. They used LED pars, Studio Spot CMYs, and Studio Color 575s to light the set.

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12 responses to Pipe Drops

  1. I started on this very same design idea about a year ago. I got into painting the PVC white and quickly changed my set design. It was awful good on you for sticking with it. Great look!

  2. Awesome! looks great. sounds like painting the PVC before cutting into smaller pieces will be a time saver. thanks for sharing your experience.

    • progrpupsremytay May 4, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      but how do u makethe pvc stand. do u glue them with adhesive or nail them against a background

  3. Savannah Gardner July 22, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Great looking set!

    Did you try paint thinner to get the words off? (We want to do this and are thinking about that).


  4. Did you try Goo Gone on the letters or sanding w 80 or 100 sand paper? It has worked for me in the past. Great set by the way.

  5. My main job is a sign shop. If you go to a local paint shop and ask for some Wash Thinner it will wipe the writing right off the pvc. We use it in our shop for cleaning our paint guns. But when I have headache bars to do I use the wash thinner to wipe the ink off of the pvc without any sanding, scraping, or priming.

  6. Savannah,

    We tried Paint Thinner and Laquer Thinner and it smeared it with some pressure, but the pipe had a pink tint. Also we used a gloss paint that helped the pipes reflect light more. I will for sure try Wash Thinner and Goo Gone! Thanks Zina and Jonathan!


  7. So what kind of tie line did you guys use specifically?

  8. please how did you hold the pipes to the walls

  9. Roynell Woodard July 7, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    What if you built a drip rack and paint container out of a larger pvc pipe. Dip the smaller pvc into the larger pvc filled with paint and let them drip dry standing up in the drip rack.

  10. Stephanie Rosendo November 2, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    So I’ve heard that nail polish remover takes the words right off the pvc pipes. I know it’s too late for you but maybe it’ll save someone else the headache of having to paint the pipes. Plus the money to buy paint.

  11. Awesome set design love this – thanks fro sharing

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