DIY grow tent: How to build the best grow tent

Reading time: 11 minutes

Growing marijuana indoors can be rewarding, especially when you grow in a dedicated grow box or tent. But both options can add up to your expenses unless you build your own. Are you feeling crafty? We’ll cover how to make the best do-it-yourself (DIY) cannabis grow tent and why you’d want to use one.

What is a grow tent?

While it’s true that marijuana is a plant that can survive under nearly any condition, you don’t want it to merely survive. You want your plant to thrive. A grow cabinet or tent can make that process easier.

My free marijuana grow bible has more information about grow tents.

Conveniently, grow tents or cabinets let you control:

You may think a grow tent or box is the size of a backyard greenhouse. And although some tents or boxes are that size, a grow space can be small enough to fit in a cabinet. However, some are large, with some cabinets substituting as grow rooms. In general, you don’t need a backyard to build a grow tent. In fact, one of the best designs for DIY cannabis grow tents are tall, compact tents with reflective interior walls that fit into most coat closets.

To be clear, grow boxes differ from grow tents. A box is solid, whereas a grow tent has a fabric or plastic exterior. Now that you’ve got the concept down, you’re ready to learn how to construct your own tent. There are several ways to build grow setups, but we’ll cover the most common types, as they are the easiest to build.

Building a DIY grow tent: Shelving, the easiest method

This DIY cannabis grow tent is called the adjustable rack or shelving method. To build an adjustable rack, you’ll need:

  • A Fan
  • 4 LED Lights
  • Duct Tape 
  • Velcro or Cable Ties
  • Black/White Poly
  • Adjustable Shelving System
DIY Grow tent using shelving
A DIY grow tent using shelving

Use the black and white poly to line the walls and floors of greenhouses and indoor cannabis grow spaces or rooms. It is a must-have material for your grow tent because it manages light. The white side of the material reflects light. The black side absorbs it.

We suggest using an existing rack or buying an adjustable shelving system instead of making a PVC pipe rack. This saves you a lot of hassle. If you don’t mind the extra work, making your own PVC pipe rack greatly lowers the cost of your grow tent since much of the cost is the adjustable shelving system.

Seeds for small weed plants

Buy seeds for small plants

  • Produce compact plants
  • Easy to grow
  • Sturdy even when grown on limited space

The one downside to the shelving method is its height limitations. You’ll have a hard time growing tall sativa strains of marijuana in one of these.

Shelving method: Supplies and tools

Here’s what you need to know when setting up your own adjustable shelving system.

Adjustable shelving system

The rack is a platform for your plants and your grow lights. Your grow lights need to be placed on the second shelf while your seedlings go on the third shelf. As your plants begin to grow, place two lights on the fourth shelf and split your plants up between the third shelf and the ground.


For your DIY grow tent ventilation, get a small fan. Your plans get hot, too, so keep the inside breezy.

Duct tape & velcro

Duct tape helps bind your wires together into a neat and uniformed line while the velcro attaches the wires to the rack. Save yourself the headache and frustration of having wires all over your grow space.

A duct tape
Duct tape

Black / white poly

Black and white poly are the MVP of your grow tent. The white side reflects light inside the grow tent, which increases light exposure for your plants. The black side helps absorb light outside of your grow tent, which helps with the temperature inside the tent.

Black/White Poly
Black / White Poly film

Grow lights

Your plants need light. You can go cheap and use fluorescent lights for your plants. Got cash to burn? Using LEDs will be a game-changer for your setup.

Building a DIY grow tent: PVC piping, the cheapest method

There’s an affordable method to create your own grow tent. Use PVC piping for the frame and black/white poly for the curtains. It’s cheap and is easier to build as opposed to the shelving method.  Plus, you can make the frame as high as you want to grow tall plants indoors. 

To build your frame with PVC piping, you’ll need:

  • Straight PVC piping
  • PVC fittings
  • PVC cutter
  • Fans
  • Duct tape & Velcro
  • Black/White Poly
  • Grow Lights
A DIY Grow Tent using PVC piping method
A DIY grow tent using PVC piping method

The key to making the frame of this tent is the PVC fittings. We get into PVC fittings below.

Once you have all your materials, cut your straight PVC pipes to your desired measurements. Put them together using 3-way elbows. You’ll use the Tees and Cross PVC fittings to create a 2×2 grid on the top side of the frame. The grid is where you’ll hang your grow lights.

Besides being cheap to make, using PVC piping makes the grow tent lightweight and easy to carry. The downside to using PVC piping is it requires a lot of work to make it into a fully functioning grow tent.

PVC method: supplies and tools

Here’s what you need to know to make your grow tent using the PVC method.  

Straight PVC piping

Straight PVC pipes
Straight PVC pipes

You’ll use PVC pipes to construct most of the frame. The length of PVC you use depends on how tall your plants will grow.

PVC fittings

PVC fittings
PVC fittings

The type of fittings you use is important. PVC Fittings are small connectors that link the corners of PVC pipes and add multiple connections. In the case of using it as a frame, the fittings hold the parts of the pipe together. Make sure that you’ve got the right amount of each type. When making the frame, you need eight 3-way elbows, 4 Tees, and 1 Cross PVC.

PVC cutter

PVC Cutter
PVC Cutter

Use a PVC cutter to cut the PVC pipes into the right length. Besides the cutter, you may want to Gorilla Glue PVC cement to further secure your frame. You should also wear protective equipment beforehand, such as hardware gloves and safety glasses.


Fans in a grow room
Fans in a grow room

Installing a fan in this type of grow tent can be the difference between having the ideal growing environment and a hellacious condition that will stunt your plants’ growth.

Duct tape & velcro

Besides using duct tape and velcro for wire management, you’ll use duct tape to put the black/white poly over the PVC frame and the velcro to seal your grow tent’s opening. That way, you have a way to look at your plants while maintaining a light-tight box.

Black/white poly

Instead of lining the walls of a closet with the white poly as you would in the shelving method (or putting the black/white poly over the shelf), the black/white poly sheets become the walls and attach to the PVC frame.

Grow lights

Since your grow tent is completely enclosed, you’ll need a source of light for your plants. That’s where grow lights come in. Although fluorescent lights work, we recommend using LEDs instead to get the most of your setup.

Also read Best grow lights for indoor marijuana growing

Should you choose Mylar or Panda foil?

Let’s start with what Mylar and Panda Foil are. They’re polyethylene sheets that growers use to either line the walls of their grow rooms or create curtains/walls for their grow tents. The material reflects light, which is what growers want to maximize the output of their grow lights.

Mylar sheet
A mylar sheet

And Mylar specifically is the most reflective polyethylene sheet. With its diamond pattern and silver color, Mylar can have a reflectivity of 90-95%. In translation, an abundant and promising amount of light reaches your plants. Additionally, Mylar is also prized by growers for its tensile strength (its ability to bear weight and stress) and its ability to trap gas and aroma inside grow rooms.

Indoor marijuana seeds

Buy indoor seeds

  • Grow whenever you want
  • Control lighting and temperature
  • Harvest quicker

But Mylar isn’t a suitable material for constructing grow tents. It’s great for lining the walls and ceilings of a grow closet, but it lacks the tensile strength of plastic poly (such as Panda Foil). The diamond pattern on Mylar sheets is also difficult to clean if they get dirty, which isn’t the case for panda foil.

Lastly, Panda Foil is more affordable than Mylar. And although it isn’t as reflective, Panda Foil is stronger and more versatile than Mylar. That’s why I recommend using Panda Foil when constructing your grow tent.

Step-by-step: Building your own grow tent

Assemble the rack of your DIY grow tent
Assembling the rack of your DIY grow tent

Time needed: 20 minutes.

The following steps are our DIY grow tent instructions for the PVC method.

  1. Assemble the rack

    Build a shelf using PVC pipes or assemble your ready-to-go shelving system. Your top shelf should be wide enough to place lights on yet high enough to leave space for your plants to grow. We also recommend making your shelf removable in case your plants grow taller than expected. Fasten loose wires to the tent’s frame using cable ties or velcro.

  2. Position your fan

    Place your fan underneath your shelving system. Make sure the fan is positioned so you can easily access the power switch. Or spend a little extra money and use a remote control fan.

  3. Hang your poly up

    Drape your poly over the pipe frame or shelving system. Make sure the black side faces outwards. Place one of the poly edges onto the top shelf with an edge laying on each of the shelves’ sides. Leave any excess material pooling on the ground for now. Tape the poly’s top edges down onto the top shelf. Cut the edges on the sides and tape them down. Then, trim any extra material hanging at the bottom. Use any leftover poly to create a doorway that covers the tent’s last exposed side.

  4. Modify your tent

    You’ve done the hard part. Now comes the fun part. Make modifications, such as temperature and humidity settings, as needed. If the temperature gets too hot, cut a few ventilation slits in the top of the tent.

FAQs about grow tents

What does defoliation do for weed plants?

Defoliation helps by removing old yellow leaves that block newer growths and bud sites from getting the sunlight they need. This trimming method also improves the airflow and the efficiency and yield of your plants by removing unnecessary foliage that eats nutrients that your main colas should be getting.

How many times should you defoliate weed?

When it comes to autoflowering strains, you can only defoliate them once, and that’s during their vegetative stage. This is because autoflowers have a shorter growing cycle. Since photoperiod plants have longer growing cycles, you can defoliate them twice. Learn more about the method in my article on defoliation.

Is it OK to remove fan leaves during flowering?

Removing your fan leaves is defoliation, and it’s generally not recommended that you do it during their flowering stage. This is because the stress brought on by trimming the leaves during flowering has a higher chance of causing your plants to hermie than in their vegetative stage.

Have you tried building a DIY grow tent? Please feel free to share your experience or ask questions in the comments.

Happy growing!


Avatar for Robert Bergman

Robert Bergman

Robert Bergman is an Amsterdam-based marijuana grow expert who has years of experience from small grows to massive operations. His passion for growing led him to develop his own Gold Leaf strain. Now, Robert is dedicated to sharing his knowledge with the world.... [Read full bio]

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