I am looking to use a length of 1/2" or 3/4" copper pipe as a rail for
holding a curtain.
I would like to strengthen the rod by filling it with a liquid that
What would you recommend using?
Note I have considered using cement (regular or hydraulic) but am
concerned that it will be hard to fill the pipe and that in any case
the water won't have anywhere to go. Also, I have considered epoxy but
again, I fear that it won't fill the pipe, plus it is very expensive.
Are there any other alternatives such as some type of liquid
How heavy is the curtain and how are you supporting the pipe? If you need
more strength go with 1", 1.5" or even 2" pipes and forget about filling it.
There are a few types of copper pipes: Type-L, Type-M and Type-K and
Type-DWV which I don't know anything about but one is more rigid than the
Don't use cement, use concrete and rebar - much, much stronger. Copper will
react with the concrete and develop pin holes but may take 20 or so years.
Shouldn't be hard to fill at all, just use a vibrator and a shop vac at one
end and let gravity work for you.
Don't use premixed concrete, that wouldn't work. Use one part cement to 5
part clean sand (which now is concrete) that shouldn't have problem getting
into the pipe along with some reinforcement like a #3 rebar.
I wouldn't think you'd get much added strength from cements.
If you are using the copper for appearance, how about just sliding a
piece of black iron or galvanized pipe inside it? Or a piece of rebar?
If you're concerned about rattle, a few dabs of Bondo slapped on it as
you slip 'er in will prevent that.
Rebar comes in 20-ft sections but isn't very stiff and 16-ft section
small enough to go through a 1/2" pipe won't add much stiffness although
it will prevent a buckle. 3/4" rod is awfully heavy. I think the black
iron would be better.
However, if you're expecting an unsupported 16-ft section of such a
small diameter to be stiff enough, I think you're going to be
The standard rebar is 20'. They cut it up at the home store.
I think mortar is the best choice. Buy a cheap plastic funnel and cut
it down to a good fit on the pipe. Wear plastic gloves and shove it
down the funnel until it comes out the other end. Tape them off and
let it sit flat for a week or two. The water will come out eventually
but the longer it takes the better. Makes the concrete harder if it
You could still try to work a #3 rebar in there with the mortar.
I don't know of anything in that diameter that won't flex quite a bit in
16'. I'd look for alternative materials, something more of a box shape that
will have stiffness. Will there be supports along the way?
I needed a 12ft curtain rod, with heavy curtains. I used a
3/4" conduit, with a 1/2" inside it. At the 10ft point, I
used JBWeld to connect the 1/2" to the 3/4", with that 1/2"
one coming from the other direction. Used a couple of
nails with the heads cut off to space the pipes relative
to each other, and a hose clamp to hold the two sections
of 3/4" in position relative to each other while the JB cured.
Finished with almost no gap, used some JB to fill the space.
Then I sanded it with medium grit paper, wiped it down with
some vinegar water, rinsed it, dried it, and then painted it
with some Rustoleum paint from WalMart. It looks good, and
holds the curtains well. Supports at 1', 6', and 11'.
Jim Yanik wrote:
What is the maximum span between supports and number of supports?
You're not adding a material for it's strength - you're really just
looking to keep the tube from buckling - so I don't know that a
"stronger" material would add strength. For a given diameter the
heavier the pipe/rod/tube the more it will deflect under its own
weight, so lighter is better.
I'm not sure if it it would work, but it might be possible to use a
length of plastic tubing attached to an expanding foam can. If the
tubing doesn't prove to be have too much friction (it might), and the
spray can pressure can push the foam through the tube for half the
length of the pipe (inserted from both ends), then it could work.
Insert the tube fully, spray a dollop, withdraw the tubing and see how
far the foam comes out. Or, if you're feeling lucky, use minimally
expanding foam and spray while continuously pulling it out.
Another option would be to use another material and paint/patinate it
to look like copper and not have to worry about the strength.
The bigger the diameter the stiffer the tube, and the relative
stiffness goes up quickly, so you'll have to decide how much sag is
acceptable and how big of a rod is the esthetic maximum size.
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