How to Build a DIY Sensory Table with PVC (aka Water Table or Sand Table)

Need a fun new project that won’t take long and your kids will love? Check out below to learn how to build a sensory table out of PVC pipe and fittings. A sensory table is also called a water table or sand table, as it can serve any of these purposes.

pvc sensory table

Total Cost = $33, Total Time = 30 minutes

A sensory table is a great way for your children to explore and learn about different mediums. You can fill your tubs with water, sand, beans, play dough, marbles, or anything else you can think of. It’s also a great project that your kids can help you build!

Step 1: Assemble the Pieces

Please note that all fittings should have slip ends, not threaded ends.

1. Five ¾” 5-foot pipes or three ¾” 10-foot pipes

2. Eight ¾” side outlet elbows

3. Two ¾” tees

4. Two ¾” 90 degree elbows

5. Rubber mallet

6. Tape measurer

7. Sharpie

8. Saw (preferably one designed to cut PVC)

9. Tote (
*Tote is 28 qt., and its measurements are 23.74 in x 16.61 in x 6 in

Step 2: Measure and Mark Pipe

Use a tape measurer and a sharpie to mark the appropriate lengths that the pipe needs to be cut.

Pipe Lengths

2 – 21”

5 – 14-1/4”

4 – 10”

2 – 3-1/2”

4 – 18-1/4” – These are for the legs of the table and can be customized for your child’s height. Decide on a height for your table, and then subtract 1 ¾” to account for the fittings that will be used. (Our table is 20” tall.)

Step 3: Cut the Pipe

Start with two or three slow cuts to score the pipe, and then move into quicker cutting motions. Please stabilize the pipe while cutting and cut on a flat, even surface. We used a handsaw designed to cut PVC; although this is recommended, it is not required. 

Once we cut the pipes, we labeled which parts were which lengths. Trust us – it made things a lot easier!

Step 4: Assemble the Table

You can use adhesive for extra support; however, we wanted to pack ours away and store it when it’s not being used, so we didn’t use any, and the table was still very sturdy. (Tested by an [almost] five year old.)

I found it easier to lay the parts out before assembling, so that I could visually see where each piece would go.

Part A: The Base of the Table

For the first part, create a square that will serve as the base of the table. You will need the two 21” pieces, four side outlet elbows, and two 14 ¼” pieces.

Lay the two 21” pieces parallel to each other. Do the same with the 14 ¼” pieces, but in the opposite direction. You should have a square shape. Connect the pipes using the four side outlet elbows. Now just push everything together!

Part B: The Top of the Table

Next, you’re going to make the top part of the table. The bin will fit into this piece. You will need the four 10” pieces, three 14 ¼” pieces, the two tees, and the remaining four side outlet elbows.

Lay the two of the 14-1/4” pieces of pipe parallel to each other, then above that, lay two 10” pieces with a tee in between them. Do the same thing below. Use the tee to connect pairs of the 10” pieces, then use four side outlet elbows to connect those to the two 14-1/4” pieces on either ends. Make sure the tee is facing down, as you will need to connect pieces to form the support bar. Push everything together.

Part C: The Support Bar

You’re now ready to create the bar that will run under the bin for support when mediums such as water are added. You’ll need the remaining 14 & ¼” piece, the two 90-degree elbows, and the 3 & ½” pieces of pipe.

Insert the 3 & ½” pieces of pipe into the tees, then attach the 90-degree elbows to the 3 & ½” pipe. Take the 14-1/4” pipe and attach it to the 90-degree elbows.

Part D: The Legs

Lastly, we will push the 18-1/4” pipes into the side outlet elbows to create the legs for the able, and then take the first square you made (the base of the table) and attach it to the legs.

Part E: The Finishing Touches

Use a rubber mallet to push all parts together tightly. Flip the table over, set the bin into its slot, and add whatever you want into the bin.

And there you have it – your very own, easy-to-make, inexpensive sensory table! Depending on the height of your table’s legs, you may be able to simply break down the table and store everything in the bin.