DIY XPVC Racks

ssscales April 13, 2010 90
DIY XPVC Racks

I often get asked about our racks, where we bought them, how much they cost, what material are they made of, etc, etc? You can always build them from Melamine, which can be bought at any HomeDepot or Lowes. These racks for example cost us appx $150 w/heat and housed 28/12qt tubs or 14/28qt tubs.

Problem with Melamine is that it weighs a TON and if it gets wet, it will expand and eventually rot. Those above lasted me a good 4-5yrs and were like new when I replaced them.

Today we make all our racks using the same material most cage and rack companies use, XPVC. We initially did our homework on the material used on our Boaphile cages called XPVC, along with other Plastics such as HDPE. Both in various thickness from 1/4″ to 1/2″. We decided based on weight, price and usage and we decided that we would go with the 1/2″ XPVC.


We did start out with a 1/4″ thick XPVC sheet as shown above, but prefer the thicker 1/2″ sheets. We found three local suppliers of XPVC. We designed and order ed four sheets of 1/4″ XPVC at a cost of $30/sheet. The distributor charged us $5.00 to cut the sheets to our dimensions. This rack above for example is built of two racks stacked, each rack holds 20/12qt tubs or 10/28qt tubs, or a mixture of the two. A total of 40/12qt tubs or 20/28qt tubs or a mixture of both. The total cost to build this rack stack was roughly $230 w/heat which we used 3″ Flexwatt as belly heat in each level. This was our first XPVC rack and took a total of 3hrs to assemble and set up.

The only learning experience we took from the first rack that we would do differently going forward. Would be the use of 1/2″ thick PVC instead of the 1/4″ PVC. The 1/4″ IMO left little room for error Vs the 1/2″ PVC plus the 1/2″ is stronger.

Another decision was to build them in smaller sections that are easy enough for one person to move and manage. The wider/larger racks are great and cost a little less to build at Vs numerous smaller ones, but when it comes time to move, you’ll be glad you have 10 small racks Vs a single wall lined rack…lol I’ve seen people line whole walls with a single 12′ x 10′ rack. Then have to take the whole thing apart to move it and get it out the door!



Here we have a simple baby, yearling, sub-adult Sterilite Rack that can be used with 12qt or 28qt tubs. We decided for these racks to also adapt an open air design to lower costs, as we were using the 1/2″ XPVC Vs the 1/4″ material.

This Rack can hold 14/12qt tubs or 7/28qt tubs and cost appx $128 w/heat using 3″ Flexwatt as belly heat per level! Perfect size, lightweight, utilizes exactly ONE 4X8 sheet of XPVC. You can also modify the specs to fit 15qt/32qt tubs, as well as make it a closed rack, if you prefer.

Sterilite 12qt/28qt Rack specs:
8 pieces = 24.00 X 17.00
6 pieces = 4.00 X 45.00


Here the Iris CB70 tub rack. This is the tub that’s usually used for adult female Ball pythons that are too big to house in 28/32qt tubs and need the extra space. I wish I had taken more pics, but had it built by the time I remembered the camera! I’ll be sure and snap some step by step pics of the assembly next time!

CB70 tubs measure roughly 33″ X 18″. This rack holds 9 CB70 tubs and requires two 4X8 sheets. Costs was about $225/with heat and we use 11″ Flexwatt as belly heat to heat 12″ at the back of each tub. Time it took to assemble was about 1hr. Same gig, place your order with a supplier, they pre-cut everything for you and all you have to do is take it home and assemble at your leisure.

Iris CB70 Rack Specs:
34.00 X 18.750 = 10 pieces
56.00 X 6.00 = 4 pieces
2.0 X 19.00 = 6 pieces

On average you can find the 1/4″ thickness XPVC from $28-$50 ($28-$35 being the average price range). The 1/2″ XPVC can cost you between $90-$150 per 4X8 sheet ($90-$120 being the average price range). If you’re being charged higher than $120…Look elsewhere! Also ask by Brand of XPVC?! Certain Brands cost more than others and whether they are imported or made in the USA. Various brands of XPVC such as Sintra, Komatex, Jain, etc, etc. They are all basically the same thing and will work just as well for this application. XPVC also comes in many different colors to choose from! Black and white are the standards, but they also carry red, blue, yellow, green, charcoal, etc, etc. Colored sheets cost a bit more than the standards due to supply and demand.


Here we have the largest tubs we use per racks and they are Iris CB110 tubs. These are roughly 35″ X 21″ and are perfect for adult male Boas and sub-adult female Boas, also these are great for the biggest of female Ball Pythons.

This rack houses five CB110 tubs and cost appx $225.00/with heat to build. Once again we used 1/2″ XPVC and this rack took up two 4X8 sheets. We use 11″ Flexwatt as belly heat under 12″ to the back of each tub.

Iris CB110 Rack Specs:
41.00 X 21.00 = 6 pieces
36.250 X 12.00 = 4 pieces
36.250 X 7.00 = 2 pieces
36.250 X 8.00 = 1 piece

These are the basic three rack designs we use for new born snakes, to yearlings/sub-adults to adults of certain species. I’ll be adding a 6qt 20 tub rack design and specs, costing about $125/w heat and uploading those pics and info soon. I thought of writing these DIY sheets after the fact, but I’ll write up step by step instructions for these racks. Keep in mind that measurements will vary based on your tubs! Same as cost based on what you negotiate and pay for materials in your area. You may pay the same, a little more, or even less than what I have above.

All these racks can be modified to your preference, or tub specifications, limitations or your imagination. We try to utilize a complete sheet of XPVC whenever possible per rack to minimize waste. Sometimes it is best to utilize two complete sheets to get the most bang for your buck! A good example of that is with the larger Iris tubs.

We do not sell racks, or materials to build racks. This DIY post is simply to share information and for those who have asked us about our racks and information on materials used.

DIY anything is not for everyone and there are great options for those who prefer a ready made service and don’t mind paying the higher price tag that comes with that service. You have numerous choices on the net where companies such as Boaphile, Animal Plastics, Proline, Reptile Basics and others will gladly build, sell and ship you a complete rack already assembled and set to use, or in most cases they will require assembly due to shipping and handling. If you are a DIY’er at heart, building your own racks out of XPVC is super easy! No special tools required! If you can screw together piece A to piece B, you can build a rack! DIY eliminates the waiting for delivery and above all, DIY will save you $$!

The Melamine racks above that housed 28/12qt tubs cost about $150-$160 w/heat using 3″ flexwatt as belly heat. That comes to roughly $6 per tub on 12qt tubs for example. Compare this $6/per tub, to about $9 per tub for the 1/2″ XPVC DIY rack Vs $20-$35/per tub on ordering a similar rack that may, or may not include tubs, and may or may not require assembly. Cost per tub can range from $2.00-$3.00/12-15qt at any Wal-Mart or Target. On the CB70 tub rack for example: The 9 CB70 tub DIY rack above cost me $25/per tub w/heat Vs $60-$95 you may pay when ordering a CB70 rack.

Here are two Plastic Distributors we use in our area. Both Piedmont and Laird have numerous locations within the USA. These are by no means the only ones that supply XPVC sheets and we suggest strongly that you shop around for any and all Plastics Distributors local to you for the best price and service.

Piedmont Plastics:
http://www.piedmontplastics.com/

Laird Plastics:
http://www.lairdplastics.com/

Good luck and happy building!

90 Comments »

  1. cory colcord May 14, 2011 at 3:28 am -

    If you have the time could you send me a blue print for your

    15q/32q rack(12q/28q). I know time is precious, so is my budget,..lol

    thank you

    Cory

  2. ssscales May 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm -

    Hi Cory, the specs for that rack and others are already in the blog post. All you need to build your own rack is right there.

  3. Tank November 2, 2011 at 12:57 am -

    How do you connect the pieces? A particular type of screw, joint or glue?
    Thanks for the info!

  4. ssscales November 2, 2011 at 1:11 am -

    Just screw them together, no glue needed at all. Just like screwing into wood.

  5. joe January 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm -

    Thank you for the info! How do you router the sides to get the flex wat in? How do you make sure the screws go into the sides. Is there a easy way to get the holes to line up? Any hatchling rack blue prints? Please use my email
    funinthesun524@gmail.com

  6. Jesse January 30, 2012 at 11:28 pm -

    What a great write up. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Its nice to know I can build a high quality rack for under 300.

  7. ssscales January 30, 2012 at 11:36 pm -

    Thank you, glad so many have appreciated it.

  8. Chris Ray February 10, 2012 at 1:52 am -

    Good job. All the racks look nice. I have been thinking of using the same material for some racks. Am I right that you can cut and route this with the same tools used for wood?

  9. ssscales February 10, 2012 at 2:21 am -

    Hi, that is correct. It cuts, drills, screws into like wood but smoother and easier.

  10. John February 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm -

    Thanks for the write up. My local Laird (NJ) charges $113 for one sheet of 12mm and $25 for cuts. Could you provide some info on how you run the flexwatt in the 12/28 qt. and cb-70 racks? Is there enough of a gap to run a continuous piece through the rack or do you have to tape down separate pieces on each shelf? I don’t see any flexwatt in the open air racks. Photos would be nice. Thanks.

  11. ssscales February 21, 2012 at 7:56 pm -

    Thanks, $113 is a bit high to be honest, but not bad. I’ve seen them as low as $70 and as high as $150 even within Laird. All depends on where you live, options available, even individual sales reps. If they have competition close by they tend to be more competitive and willing to negotiate to earn your business, if they are it for you and the nearest option is 500 miles away, they will rip you off! Also make sure you ask for what brand PVC they have? If you just call and ask for PVC, they will automatically offer you the highest priced one, especially without any competition nearby. They are all the same thing, just different name brands, imported, etc. The difference there also makes a difference. For example in the Laird in my area, the Sintra and Komatex brand XPVC will cost you $110-$120, but the Jain and other brand XPVC cost you $90-$95.

    $25 to cut is also a rip off IMO, I would get charged from free to $5.00 and that was ok, but again all depends on your local shop and sales rep. It takes them a few minutes to throw the board on their table saw and cut it for you. Most will do it for free, some may charge $5.00, $25.00 is excessive.

    As for the flexwatt, on the CB70 racks where I used 11″ flexwatt, I would have individual sections per shelf of 11″ X 12″ and just wire them together at the back. On the smaller tubs where I used 3″ flexwatt, I would run one piece and just snake it through, no need to cut individual pieces, much easier this way. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics showing the flexwatt wiring, I moved to my Vision racks and replaced all these XPVC racks 1-2yrs ago. Wiring and setting up the flexwatt is easy and there are many info sites on the net showing how. Just make sure you wire everything up right and use a good Tstat. It’s really all very simple.

  12. john campbell February 23, 2012 at 1:33 pm -

    how hard is to wire the heat in or do you use heat cables?

  13. Dustin April 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm -

    Hey I was wondering what unit all those measurements are in inch?

  14. ssscales April 11, 2012 at 2:04 am -

    I now use Heat cables with the Vision racks, but when I used Heat tape/Flexwatt it was not hard at all to wire, pretty simple actually.

  15. ssscales April 11, 2012 at 2:05 am -

    Yes, they are inches.

  16. Morphism(Ulysses) May 2, 2012 at 6:51 am -

    Hello, I LOVE the CB-110 Rack. I want to build two of these racks for my boas. Thanks for sharing this! Did you have a problem with the plastic splitting when drilling the screws through the PVC or do you make pilot holes before? Thanks!

  17. Nature June 6, 2012 at 1:11 am -

    Hi, I was wondering, what approx. sizes would you need for a 32 qt (For an adult male BP)? Also, I’m not even sure this is possible lol, but do you know what measurements you would need for a Christmas Tree tub (14″H x 52.12″W x 20.12″D)? lol

    Last question (thankfully haha), would you be able to use (for the 41 qt one) Visin CB 70 tubs instead of Iris?

    Thanks!

  18. ssscales June 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm -

    Hi, I don’t know the specs on the 32qt tub, as for the christams tree tub, or any tub, you would just need to calculate measurement and dimensions to see how many tubs per rack you could fit per sheet of 4×8 PVC. One the Vision 70 vs Iris CB70, they are the same so yes you could use one or the other.

  19. Anthony Eckert July 31, 2012 at 6:16 am -

    What are the specs for a hatchling 6qt tub rack thank you.
    ~Baltimore Reptiles

  20. ssscales July 31, 2012 at 9:03 am -

    Hi guys, I never got around to setting up a PVC rack for 6qt tubs. It’s not difficult, just take your tub measurements and take it from there to design your custom rack based on your wants and needs. I’m guessing you could fit 24/6qt tubs per 4×8 sheet, and at a cost on average of $125 rack w/heat.

  21. Rich August 5, 2012 at 9:17 pm -

    Great job on this. I is soooo helpful!
    I have one question in regards to the CB 70 rack. Where do the 2.0 X 19.00 = 6 pieces go?

    Rich

  22. ssscales August 5, 2012 at 10:24 pm -

    Thanks, those were cut out of the excess board to utilize the whole board, I use them as back stops and side bars tying in the top rack to the bottom rack.

  23. Rich August 6, 2012 at 12:22 am -

    Great. Did you cut them to fit on the inside as stops or just run them down each side? Owe you a pint for this info as it sure beats $700 for pre-made. (bow)

  24. ssscales August 6, 2012 at 12:33 am -

    Just ran them down the outside sides, doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re welcome.

  25. Anthony Eckert August 7, 2012 at 3:11 am -

    Hey what are the specs for a closed rack for the cb70 tubs like having it enclosed instead of open please let me know thanks.
    ~Baltimore Reptiles

  26. Anthony Eckert August 7, 2012 at 3:14 am -

    Hello what are the specs for a closed rack for the cb70 tubs like having it enclosed instead of open please let me know thanks.
    ~Baltimore Reptiles

  27. ssscales August 7, 2012 at 10:57 am -

    Sorry Anthony, I have no idea what the specs would be as I only made those racks for myself and it’s been 2yrs since I’ve had to build any or change any dimensions. I would assume you could get seven cb70 tubs out of the 2 pieces of PVC and a cost of $225 as well vs nine tubs with the open specs. To get the specs for any tub, simply take the measurements of whatever tub you are using and divide it into a 4X8 sheet or a specific space you have in mind. I would do my math per sheet at times such as with the cb70 tubs, it was best to divide it into two sheets to get a bit more out of it, instead of getting 4 tubs out of one sheet, I would get 9 out of 2 sheets for example.

  28. Chris August 8, 2012 at 12:13 am -

    I haven’t been able to find any sheeting near Charlotte, NC. How did you locate it?

    I’ve built mine out of melamine but buy tubs from Freedom Breeder. One day I’ll be able to upgrade to their racks but for now I love their tubs with the built-in cupholder.

  29. ssscales August 8, 2012 at 12:27 am -

    Hi Chris, you need to do a search for expanded PVC board. I am sure there is one or more distributors nearby NC, check the Piedmont Plastics or Laird Plastic websites and do a location search. Those are just two distributors, there are many more large nationwide and regional and local distributors of XPVC board. I love Freedom Breeder racks and ARS, but they were too pricey for me at the time, so Vision was a good middle ground for me. Their tubs are great, you can build a XPVC rack around FB tubs or any tub. I am sure you’ll find a supplier near you..

  30. ssscales August 8, 2012 at 12:31 am -

    Hi, sorry for the late response, not sure how I missed this one. No problems at all with splitting PVC, I do make pilot holes though just to make it smoother. Working with PVC is no different than working with wood, in fact it’s easier.

  31. Chris August 8, 2012 at 12:52 am -

    Looks like Piedmont Plastic is headquartered in Charlotte so will start there. Thanks!

  32. ssscales August 8, 2012 at 1:05 am -

    There you go…
    Make sure when you speak with them that you ask for the most generic XPVC board they have, the cheapest brand! If not they might try and sell you the high priced stuff which is the same thing as the cheap stuff, just a brand name! Komatex, Jaid, Sintra, and other brands of PVC boards are all the same PVC boards, just different brands. Price wise could be as cheap as $60.00 1/2″ thickness to $150 1/2″ thickness, same damn thing! Don’t let them fool you, sometimes you get an idiot sales rep. If he refuses to help you out, hang up and try another sales rep another day. A good price for me was $90/sheet, but I’ve heard guys in other parts of the US pay as little as $60 sheet.

  33. santos August 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm -

    Can you please send me blue prints for cb70 rack and for a juvenile rack in the same the design as your cb70 rack thank you

  34. ssscales August 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm -

    Hi Santos, the rack specs for the cb70/9 tub rack are up above in the post. The juvi racks I had were using Sterilite 28qt tubs, but based on the tubs you are using the dimensions could change of course. Best way to build your rack is to your specific tub, make sure to take the measurements from the tub from top to bottom, front to back and side to side. Based on those dimensions, you can either custom build a rack to your space and needs regardless of boards or build a rack based on a per board maximum utilization as I did above.

    This can vary based on your tub and you must determine, my specs above are for those specific tubs and racks, but are also to give you a start, an idea that you can do this yourself and not need to spend $200-$400-$500 for a rack that may cost you 1/2 that or less and take less time to receive and just as easy to assemble.

    Good luck

  35. John September 5, 2012 at 2:21 am -

    For your 41qt, how are you doing the heat? Back or belly? I couldn’t tell from the pics.

    Thanks.

  36. ssscales September 5, 2012 at 3:21 am -

    Belly, all belly heat.

  37. Steve September 8, 2012 at 7:51 pm -

    Hi, i have a question you have mentioned sheets of the pvc and then the cutting to the specs. how large is the sheet you are referring to? i have looked through the blog post and have not seen the size mentioned. is lit like a 4′x8′ sheet? Thanks!!!

  38. ssscales September 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm -

    Hi Steve, they are 4×8 sheets.

  39. Rodney October 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm -

    I have a Laird Plastics in San Antonio and they priced 4×8 sheets of 12mm (1/2″) thick XPVC at $160 a sheet. At that rate, I did not even bother to ask about a fee to cut as based on what I have read here, that is too much.
    Any suggestions would be welcomed. Thank you!

    Keep up the great DIY postings!

  40. ssscales October 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm -

    That’s crazy, first make sure they are offering you the cheapest XPVC brand product they have. For all you know, they are only quoting you the most expensive brand they have and not telling you they have other brands in stock at 1/2 that price. If that does not offer you a cheaper PVC, try talking to another sales rep, or manager. Sometimes, it’s the sales rep limiting your options based on his profit margin!!

    In the end, supply and demand dictates pricing. If you have one supplier over a 500 mile radious, chances are they will charge what they want. If you have 2-3-4 suppliers within 30min of you, chances are they will be more willing to compete to earn your business. Laird here charges $90 for that PVC sheet, but in other locations they charge as low as $60 to as high as $145.

    Good luck

  41. ssscales October 14, 2012 at 11:45 pm -

    Same as below, $160/sheet is crazy and I would speak speak to another sales rep, ask about cheaper brand names, and check other shops.

  42. santos December 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm -

    Can I go by your measurements lol I don’t have tubs and I want to call up one of the companies that you posted here on you’re website to get some prices figure
    I buy the tubs and everything else later

  43. ssscales December 5, 2012 at 9:53 pm -

    Sure, just make sure you get the same tubs or else the measurements could be off.

  44. Angel January 30, 2013 at 3:33 pm -

    When you build your racks how do you get the divider for the middle of the rack so it can hold 2 tubs per level and the nearest one in my area is in San Diego were I live do you know if it is more expensive over here or do I have to call?

  45. Chris February 7, 2013 at 12:10 am -

    Hello, I’ve found the XPVC in my area for around $110 per sheet of 1/2 inch and $50 for 1/4 inch. I know you prefer the thicker 1/2 inch as would I but I was thinking of making some baby racks and wondered how hard the 1/4 inch was to work with. I know there isn’t much room for error especially when screwing it together so one would have to be pretty accurate with placement. Also how is the rigidity of the 1/4 inch as far as the shelves? Did they flex much? I’m pretty handy with power tools and it looks like you are too which is why I’m thinking I can probably make them using the 1/4 inch but wanted the opinion of you since you’ve already made some. Thanks, Chris

  46. ssscales February 7, 2013 at 12:21 am -

    Thanks Chris, you can use 1/4″ vs the 1/2″ but having used both, I would not waste the time on the 14″ thickness, trust me, you will eventually not be happy with it and end up replacing it down the road. It’s much more flimsy, bends, just not worth the savings IMO.

  47. ssscales February 11, 2013 at 1:11 am -

    I don’t use a divider per level, not with the 1/2″ PVC sheet at at least. I have no idea what it cost in your area or elsewhere. You need to call them.

  48. Natalie February 20, 2013 at 4:58 am -

    Great info! I was wondering …if I wanted to add center support between the tubs, if I had 3 or 4 tubs per shelf, do you think that the 1/4″ would be strong enough? I would use 1/2″ for the rest of the shelf and use the 1/4″ only for the dividers. Thanks again for sharing.

  49. ssscales February 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm -

    I guess you could, but why bother? Just make the whole rack of 1/2″ and save the time and hassle, just my $0.02.

  50. Emily April 6, 2013 at 8:02 am -

    I would like to make a rack or two for my large ball pythons. I love the way you made yours. Is it possible i can get the dimensions for all the parts that need to be cut for that project? Thanks

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