How to Make a DIY Water Table – Busy Toddler

How to make a PVC Pipe Water Table: two children are playing at a DIY water table.


If your children have grown too tall for a store bought water table, consider making a DIY water table from PVC pipes. The design is simple but the end result is anything but basic. Keep kids enjoying outdoor activities longer with this project.

How to make a PVC Pipe Water Table: two children are playing at a DIY water table.

Why make a DIY water table

A few years ago, I had a startling realization: my kids were too tall for their water table.

They were hunched over. Playing while squatting or kneeling so far over they looked off balanced at all times.

But – and this is the big but – they weren’t done playing with a water table. They just needed a water table their height.

Water tables are a staple of the toddler and preschool outdoor toy landscape. It was such a staple at our house that we have two. Yes, two.

The marketing of water tables is all based on little little kids but a crucial demographic is left “water table-less”: the big kids.

Just because a kid is too tall doesn’t mean they’re too old for a toy. We also need to stop arbitrarily deciding when a child is too old for something and instead follow the child’s lead, but that is a TED Talk of a blog post for another day.

Today: let’s make a DIY water table so big kids can keep enjoying the outdoor play they always have.

HUGE THANK YOU to Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls and A Southernbell DIY‘s for their original directions.

Two children stand at a DIY water table made with PVC pipes. The children are making science potions.

Tip – Considerations when making a PVC water table

This water table is created from PVC pipes and a storage container.

I can’t give out perfect dimensions for this project for two reasons:

  • The height of this table depends on the kids using it
  • The dimensions of the table depend on the bin you place in it

I know this kind of stinks because who doesn’t love to just copy some measurements and go?! But I promise: it’s better this way and you’ll make a more perfect table without my dimensions getting in your way.

How much does a DIY water table cost?

One of my MOST HATED parts of the DIY project is the unexpected price tag.

I won’t do that to you.

Here is a rough estimate (based on Home Depot pricing in the Seattle area for Summer 2023) so you can make your budget.

  • PCV pipe costs: $20
  • PVC joints and caps: $15
  • Hack saw: $10
  • Storage container: $10

Total: about $55

This is NOT necessarily a cost saving, super cheap do-it-yourself project.

This DIY is to create a water table for big kids, something that doesn’t readily exist.

For what it’s worth: store bought water tables similar to this design (but sized for toddlers) are between $90 (for this one) and $230 (for this one).

A PVC pipe water table sits on grass. White PVC pipes are used.

Materials list

Remember this is an approximate list of materials. Your exact needs will depend on your storage container and children’s heights (our table is 28 inches tall).

  • 1-inch PVC pipe (we needed about 30 ft)
  • 4 – 3-way elbow joints
  • 8 – tee joints
  • 4 – socket caps
  • Storage container (we used a 41 qt Sterilite bin)
  • Hack saw
  • Optional: PVC pipe cutter*

*For this project, the pipe cutter works great when making big first cuts on long lengths of pipe. When making minute or more refined, shorter cuts near the end of the pipe, the hack saw worked better.

We already owned the pipe cutter, but the hack saw would be a great option if you don’t need one or already own a pipe cutter.

A PVC pipe water table sits on grass. White PVC pipes are used.

Tips for making a DIY water table

This project is a bit of a puzzle to put together, all dependent on the storage container that you use. Here are some tips for creating your table as you make this puzzle fit together:

  • Measure the storage container under the lip of the bin. This will give you an approximate measurements to work with.
  • You want the upper PVC pipes to fit under the lip while also allowing the bin to rest on the lower cross pipes.
  • Use one of the 3-way elbow joints to begin building the frame first starting at one corner.
  • Remember this is a puzzle, you’ll need to use a fair amount of trial and error.
  • With each connector/joint, you won’t know how deep the pipe will go in so even parallel sides of pipe may be different lengths.
  • We did not use PVC glue (we wanted to be able to disassemble or add taller legs).
  • Not using PVC glue also made the puzzle easier to put together and gave us more wiggle room.

Activities to use your new DIY water table for

Big kids love activities. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The main reason big kids seemingly age out is two-fold:

  • Activities stop being created for them
  • Toys/products don’t fit their larger bodies

This table solves that second problem. Now let’s solve the first. Here are 5 of my big kids’ (ages 10, 8, ad 6) favorite water table activities.

  1. Frozen pom pom balls
  2. Pom pom soup
  3. Flower soup
  4. Science potions
  5. Bubble foam

Frequently Asked Questions

What age do kids stop playing with water table?

That’s up to the child, not us. Kids have different personalities, needs, and interests. Typically, kids size out of a water table long before they age out which gives a false impression of the longevity of a water table. Having a taller water table means kids beyond age 10 will keep playing.

What can kids do with a water table?

Literally anything from water play to bubbles, mud, sand, and paint. Water tables are the MVP of backyard play and can serve whatever needs a child has.

When can kids start using a water table?

Water tables can be safely used under supervision once a child can stand.

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.

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