The author enjoys saving money with fun DIY garden projects.
DIY Homemade Umbrella Stand
Have you ever bought an umbrella stand for around $20 at the grocery store, only to have your umbrella tip the stand over at the first little gust that comes along?
If you pick up those stands, they only weigh about 10 or 15 pounds—not exactly iron! Then if you go to a home improvement store or boutique shop, they want $50 or $100 for a marble or iron stand. These stands look nice, but when you need several of them, cost is a major factor.
Here's my method, use your imagination and see if you can expand on what I've done. The total time from start to finish (without waiting for paint to dry) is about 30 minutes. This is an easy project anyone should be able to do. Just be sure you get help if you can't lift a 60# bag of concrete.
Step 1: Gather your materials.
You will need:
- 5-gallon bucket or a 5-gallon plant pot (plastic)
- Length of 2.5" schedule 40 rigid PVC conduit UV protected
- 60# bag of concrete or cement (whatever is cheapest)
- Can of plastics outdoor spray primer
- Metal tape measure
- Hacksaw or electric Sawzall with a fine blade
- Plastic sandwich/snack bag
- Sharpie pen
- Large bin or wheelbarrow to mix the concrete in
- A small level
- 2x4 board about 2–3' in length
You probably won't be able to buy the PVC in short lengths, so you will get enough to make several umbrella stands.
Step 2: Paint the bucket (optional).
If you choose to, paint the outside of the bucket whatever color you want using the spray primer. If you want, go over the primer with spray paint too. I chose to use a clay red primer that matches my patio furniture. Let it dry an hour or two.
Step 3: Cut the PVC to length.
I chose 20" since it would be about 3/4 or more in the concrete but still have some more to support the umbrella. Cut yours to whatever length you want, but I would recommend that it is at least the height of the bucket.
Be sure to cut the PVC as straight as possible. This will ensure that the umbrella will be as plumb as possible when it sits in the stand. You may want to paint the PVC as well at this point.
Step 4: Prepare to make the stand.
Put the sandwich bag over one end of the PVC; this will prevent concrete from getting into the tube. Place the PVC in the center of the bucket with the bag at the bottom (you will bury the bag).
Next, mix the concrete as the directions say. I used a wheelbarrow; you could use a small tub, just something big enough to mix the materials with water and be able to scoop it out.
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Add a small amount of water at a time while you mix it; you want the concrete to just barely be moist; no need to make it into mud. Mix it with a shovel. It should be like wet clay.
Step 5: Put it together.
You may find it easy to have another person present to hold the PVC level and straight while you put the concrete in. Start shoveling the concrete mix around the PVC, be sure not to get concrete down in the PVC.
Use the 2x4 board to tamp around the PVC to get rid of any spaces. Use the level to make sure the PVC is straight up and down. Fill it up as much as you want, and get it as close to the top of the bucket as you can. You will probably end up with 50-60# of concrete in the bucket.
- You may want to use a small square of wood to smooth out the surface of the concrete.
- You may use broken tile, marbles, or rocks to cover the surface of the concrete. Just do this before the material sets.
- Instead of using a 5-gallon bucket, try a 5-gallon plant pot or build a frame out of 2x4 and plywood. The wider the base, the more stable this umbrella stand will be. You could put heavy casters on the bottom to make it easy to move around.
Step 6: Apply the finishing touches.
Using a wet rag, clean up the spilled concrete on the bucket, and get it nice and clean. If your wife thinks this bucket is ugly (like mine does), then get some stencils and put a nice design on the outside of the bucket.
I would suggest not carrying the bucket by the handle; the handle will break. In my next rendition, I think I will get some re-bar and make some handles that go all the way through the bucket from side to side. This way, the concrete will hold the re-bar in place, and I could lift the stand if necessary.
Besides having to buy an eight-foot piece of PVC, the rest of the materials are pretty cheap. I probably spent about $30–$40 on everything, but I bought enough to make three stands, and I still have enough PVC to make about three or four more stands.
I hope I gave you some ideas; don't be afraid to work with concrete in this fashion. You're not going for strength; you're going for weight. Be creative, and don't settle for what's in the store!
Lyn on August 06, 2017:
I spoke with an employee at the project desk at Menards regarding this idea. He suggested using metal containers rather than plastic. The plastic containers will split and break apart.
omw41 on June 30, 2012:
Brilliant. I used one bag of 60lb mix. I had to mix it on a tarp (no wheel barrow), so I lost some. It only filled the bucket about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way. It is plenty heavy though. So, tomorrow I am going to go buy a bag of sand and fill it the rest of the way. The wife wants to use that colored play sand, but I do not think I will do that. I think some nice white silca sand would be nice. In any case, we have a small sea glasss and sea shell collection and once the sand is in, we'll just lay those items on top.
Thanks again for the great idea.
Stephanie on June 19, 2012:
JUST what i was looking for!!! thanks!!!! (If only I'd thought to search this out before loosing 5 umbrellas in 3 years - ugh.)
Pam on April 27, 2012:
Hey that is the greatest idea. Ok I just had to do it. I did it. I went to the dollar store and bought a $1. bucket. Black, got 50lbs of fast setting concrete. Put Pvc pipe in. Set it, and before it set I put in Seashells. Looks so cool. Thanks for the awesome idea. Is there somewhere I can send a photo? It really turned out awesome. Thanks again. Pam
jean on August 15, 2011:
I found an even cheaper way, an old chair on wheels, took the chair off and umbrella fits perfectly in the base.
bassingal on June 26, 2010:
You could tape the end over with duck tape also.
Sharon on April 25, 2010:
Thanks,this "how to make an umbrella stand" just saved me $40. I had all the materials at home!