019 – Building a Rack

Water weighs about 8 pounds a U.S. gallon. So the very first consideration when planning a rack is the floor beneath it. The best place is the basement or garage. If it has to be built on an elevated floor, the floor itself may have to be supported. If your house is old or cheaply built, the weight should be evenly distributed. Avoid putting too much pressure on selected points on the floor. Arrange the rack so that it runs perpendicular to the floor joists so that several joists are taking the weight, and place the rack close to a load-bearing wall.

Tanks can be constructed of wood or metal. Even metal that is painted will rust over time, and it is easier to attach PVC piping, lights, clipboards and other objects to wood. Wood can be covered with a water-based Urethane to prevent moisture damage.

The vertical compression strength of the 2×4’s is about 600 to 800 lbs. each. 1×4’s can be used as cross-members, although we recommend 2×4’s if the tanks are larger than 10 gallons. Stove bolts provide the maximum strength at joints. You can also use 3-4 patio deck screws per joint together with carpenter’s wood glue.
Luke Roebuck’s design for a wooden rack

The most difficult part of the rack design process is deciding how far off the ground to make the bottom rack, how much space to leave between rows, and how high to make the top rack. It appears you always have to make a choice, either the top rack is too high, or the bottom rack is too low. If the tank is close to the floor, you may have to use a pump to remove water from the tanks (a good idea anyway) or a step-stool to reach and clean the top rack.
Image:Metal rack.jpg
Metal racks are easy to assemble, but they lack flexibility unless you build them from scratch.
Metal racks are easy to assemble, but they lack flexibility unless you build them from scratch.

Rack Details

We found this rack served us best:

Stove bolts provide the maximum strength. They also allow the rack to be unassembled and put back together again. A template was used to place the bolts at exact locations, making re-assembly a snap.