Aquaponics Project – Building A Hoop House

Building A Hoop House – The Beginning

Realized there really isn’t too much about how the hoop house was built in the first place. I didn’t take too many photos back then, so the documentation is sketchy at best.


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The Hoops

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This hoop house was made from 3/4″ and 1″ metal conduit. The inside of the hoop house measures 19′ across and 52′ long. It’s an odd amount both ways, as I had no idea what size it should be when I started out. FYI, it would have been much better had it been 18′ across and 48′ long – because that’s the size a standard piece of plastic for the top will fit. I finally found a 30′ by 55′ piece of plastic, so that turned out ok.

Each hoop (or rib) is 3 pieces of 3/4″ metal conduit that are joined with a 10″ section of 1″ metal conduit – like the photo below. (This method is also how the long poles for the side vents were made.)

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Before the pieces were joined together, they were bent into the hoop shape. I didn’t have a fancy tube bender, nor did I really know what to do, so I made a bending jig by attaching several small pieces of 2″ x 4″ to my deck in the general shape of the hoop I was shooting for. For the two pieces of conduit that was actually attached to the ground, I marked off 5′ and curved only the upper 5′ of the conduit. This allowed for approximately 5′ of straight conduit, making the walls come up a little straighter before they start to bend in – as you can kind of see in the “the hoops” photo. The middle piece of conduit was bent throughout the length. When all the bending and connecting was done, there were 14 hoops that were reasonably similar and were placed approximately 4′ apart.

Each end of the ends of the hoops were connected to the ground by placing them in a “stake” made from 1″ metal conduit cut into 3 foot lengths and pounded into the ground. Well, that’s how it started, but that didn’t work out too well and it was necessary to dig – by hand – 28 holes and sink the stakes in concrete. That was not a fun few days. I did learn a valuable lesson in those days – an auger is NOT too expensive to rent – or own, if you can get it on a good sale.

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 The Purlins

That’s what they call the pieces that run the length of the hoop house at the very top and about 4′ on either side of the top middle one. These help stabilize the hoop house, but more stabilizing was added later, as these were not enough to cope with the 80-85 mph gusts of wind we get up here. Again, the purlins were made from 3/4″ conduit joined with (roughly) 10″ sections of 1″ metal conduit and connected to the hoops with – what else – conduit brackets. You can see from this photo that the hoops and purlins aren’t perfectly aligned, as a kit would have been – but everyone who has seen the hoop house thinks it was a kit, so I’m happy with the way it’s turning out.

ALL the connections had to be taped with heavy duty tape to prevent the sharp edges from ripping the plastic that makes the “roof” of the hoop house. I used ProPac 20mil tape that is really meant to hold insulation on outdoor pipes. It worked great, but it’s a bit expensive. Duct tape does NOT hold up. A few days in the intense sun and the duct tape I started using just started to deteriorate and had to be removed and the ProPac applied.

Side Vents

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It’s hard to see in this photo, but there is a screened side vent that runs the length of the hoop house down both sides. The vent is about 3′ tall and has a wood runner at the top for the screen to attach to. This runner also holds the wiggle wire channels where the plastic that goes over the top of the hoop house attaches. I put pipe insulation around the conduit on the ends to help protect the plastic from ripping in case there were any sharp edges, but this turned out to be premature…

Also in the photo above, you can see the framing for the end of the hoop house. I totally winged this, as I could find NO instructions online for hoop house ends. All the instructions I could find at that time said something vague like “and then build a frame for the ends” – like that was a well known thing to do.It’s like regular framing, which I’m used to, but then attaching it to flimsy little tubes was kind of scary and felt sloppy. For the next hoop house, there will definitely be a few changes, but overall, they work well enough as is.

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Above is a little better shot of the wiggle wire channels that hold the plastic cover down. You can also see some “waviness” in the side. I worried over that for awhile and then said “too bad” and went on to the next step.

Wiggle Wire Channels

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You can also see the wiggle wire channels on the end frames – which also turned out to be premature. I was originally planning to just put plastic over the ends, then thought better of it and decided to cover the ends with plywood. That meant I had to take all the wiggle wire channels off, hang the plywood, then install the channels back on the plywood. I’ll take some photos of the finished look for another post.

Well, that’s a pretty good general overview of how it came together. Let me know if there’s any part that you’d like more detail on and I’ll provide it.

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