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Hoop (and Beam) Dreams

March 13, 2012

What a weekend! Both beautiful and terrible weather, and both productive and endlessly frustrating.

The most exciting part (for me) was the creation of a hoop house! I’ve wanted a hoop house since I started really gardening in earnest. For those who don’t know, a hoop house (or hoop greenhouse) is a round greenhouse made of flexible material over bent tubing. I used schedule 80 PVC for mine (the cheap choice), but most professional and long-lasting hoop houses are made using metal tubes. While I originally planned to use this one to start seeds, it is large enough to use for small crops in the summer, overwintering crops in the winter, and a place for chicks/chickens.

The 12×16 structure cost a little under $400 dollars to build. That included a $100 roll of 6 mil plastic for the cover that I used less than half of. I’m hoping to build a larger mobile hoop house to go in the garden over tomatoes and peppers, so I could eventually use the plastic for that. Accounts vary on the amount of time a PVC house will last, ranging from a year (the cover needs to be replaced) to five years. I’m hoping this one will last for several since we used thick plastic and PVC that is made to be above ground. At that point I’ll have a better idea of what size hoop house we need, as well as what the strengths and weakness of this design is.

We followed several tutorials off the internet. Basically, there is a 16 foot midrib made of 22 1/2″ pieces of PVC attached with t-s. A 1/2″ piece of electrical conduit is added to the midrib for strength and to flatten out the curve. I originally only added a 10 foot piece of tubing to the 16 foot midrib, and you can see in the picture above what a difference it makes. I initially thought I would build the house alone, but luckily Mr. B decided to give me a hand/take over the project. As usual, what originally seems like comprehensive directions turned out to be less than informative once I got down to it, and Mr. B’s building experience was valuable. I’m also glad he was there to push the wheelbarrow full of gravel through 5″ mud.

The finished product:

The other big project (and the most exciting part for Mr. B) was creating and installing beams in the house. Our great room has a vaulted ceiling, and Mr. B wanted to install exposed lumber beams to hold lights. The cabin we dismantled had a lot of usable roof and floor trusses the are roughly 2 x 6 in dimension. We used 2 coats of waterlox – a tung oil wood sealer – to finish the boards. The company suggests at least 4 coats, but even two really brought out the wood’s color and any contrast in grain. We attached the boards with plate washers and large bolts. Mr. B also cut a groove in the top to conceal the wiring running to the lights.


The company that built our trusses OK’d a precise spot on the truss where we could hang a heavy point load. It ended up being a lot higher than I expected – I’d guess that the bottom is at least 12 feet off the ground – but the beam we hung looks great. You can also see Mr. B’s newest toy in the picture below – scaffolding.

I thought I’d finish this post with a picture of Tempe. This was right before she went out and covered herself completely in mud by digging in the side of a hill.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Noah permalink
    March 13, 2012 2:14 pm

    Nice beams… I think the real reason you put them up high is so I won’t climb around on them

    • March 13, 2012 2:15 pm

      That probably won’t stop the cat from getting up there and then needing help to get down. We’ll call you if we need someone to play fireman.

  2. Mike Gibson permalink
    March 13, 2012 2:31 pm

    I have really missed Tempe (not that I don’t love you and Mr. B, he is soooo cute). But Tempe is a good friend of Schatzie’s and I had been meaning to say hi! Thanks.

  3. Mom Jones permalink
    March 13, 2012 3:46 pm

    Tempe looks like the perfect dog friend in this picture! i can only image what she looked like totally covered with mud.

    The inside of the house ids looking great! Are you still going to wrap the outside or has that ship sailed?

    Can’t wait to get there and lift some tools!

    love to A, B, and T of course!

    • March 13, 2012 3:49 pm

      We are thinking of just doing the west side, which is where most of our weather comes from. It is a vicious cycle: it rains/snows, we wait for the bales to dry out, the nice weather lulls us into working on something else, and then it rains/snows again. I’m hoping we can get it up before the spring rains really start.

  4. Alex permalink
    March 13, 2012 6:01 pm



  5. Alex permalink
    March 27, 2012 5:13 pm

    you can spray a green white wash on your plastic and that will not only kep the heat inside down but it will help keep the UV from reaching the plastic.

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