16 DIY Roof Rack Ideas For All (2023)

Are you planning to trim some weight by removing excess accessories from your vehicle? In my opinion, customizing your car and finding new ways to transport cargo can be a fun task. But if you go with the store-bought rack options, it will be a pricey and difficult option so try to go through this series of DIY roof rack ideas. These roof racks are great accessories with multiple purposes, whether you're looking for a large-sized rack for heavier objects to lift. Or keep the routine picnic accessories along with you while traveling; you'll find the best and most appropriate type of roof rack ideas here.

Racks are a great way to keep your truck, SUV, or van safe. However, some hauling jobs require extra storage space. Freeing up deck space is the primary concern of many owners. A DIY roof rack setup can accommodate oversized cargo without sacrificing user comfort. There are many different floors and wind load considerations to consider when choosing the best type of DIY roof rack for your particular needs. For example, options are available that focus on easy installation, easy removal, and ease of use during off-road travel.

DIY Roof Rack Ideas

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Pre-assembled roof racks for cars can be quite expensive, especially when you want extra storage space without the aerodynamic performance of a spoiler. However, the truth is that making DIY roof racks isn't that complicated and requires some materials and your own two hands. With a few materials, some time, and these diagrams, you'll be able to create your racks that should last well into the future. We discuss 15 different DIY roof rack ideas so you can decide which method will work best for your vehicle. Choose a wood, PVC, or aluminum design, or take the easy way out and use some fabric and string to create a homemade rack.

If you love to spend a lot of time outdoors, you'll find that a basic rooftop rack can open up a whole new world of possibilities for adventure and recreation. Whether you want to transport your mountain bikes, kayaks, skis, snowboards, or surfboards, or just split some wood for the fireplace or carry home groceries, every vehicle can benefit from these do-it-yourself roof rack projects.

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Homemade Roof Rack

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Purchasing a roof rack will cost you hundreds of dollars. This instructable will show you how to build your homemade roof rack using stainless steel hardware from the local hardware store and expanded metal from your neighborhood home improvement store! If you have the tools and some time on your hands, this project shouldn't cost more than $150 or so to complete. The design of this rack is simple yet sufficient for carrying cargo on bumpy roads and curvy highways. It's also built to easily fit into a garage if you need to store it. This instructable will walk you through making your front and back mount and explain how to attach the rack to your vehicle.

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Accessorized Roof Rack

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(Video) #1 DIY Roof Rack Thanks to This Guy. Here's how to make it.

The Accessorized Roof Rack is an excellent option for many vehicles. This roof rack can fit into any vehicle. Its square base and round top are sandwiched by four metal rods, creating a strong structure that will hold anything you need to be transported. It is universal, the installation is relatively easy, and the price budget-friendly. The installation guidelines are detailed enough to ensure that you can install this yourself within a reasonable amount of time. With a little bit of elbow grease, you may have the first step of getting a small garage started!

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Simple Cheap DIY Rack

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We spend a lot of time in our vehicles, and after a long day at work or on the road, we want to get home as quickly as possible. If you have roof-mounted racks on your vehicle, you may be able to decrease your travel time by using them to hold cargo baskets or lightweight roof-mounted racks while you drive. Unfortunately, this is a challenge if you have a vehicle made in the last 15 years because car manufacturers didn’t make the job any easier for us. We’ll show you how to build your roof rack for light-duty cargo. You’ll need five ½-inch x 2-inch bolts with nuts and washers. That’s it, that’s all you need.

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Functional DIY Roof Rack

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Everyone loves their SUV or wagon, but adding a roof rack is often impractical for cars that aren't meant for accessories. Unless you don't mind ruining the look of your vehicle. But if you want to go off the beaten path and add some seriously cool new features to your car, read this tutorial and follow these helpful tips as you build your DIY roof rack and show off your woodworking skills! Attaching a basic DIY roof rack to the top of your vehicle allows you to transport and store items like bikes, skis, and ladders. You will need basic tools like a socket wrench set and drill to build a roof rack. The instructions below guide you from start to finish in three easy steps.

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Small Car Roof Rack

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Built like a simple platform, this small car roof rack can carry anything you can throw. It’s perfect for hauling somebody’s kayak, ladders, lumber, bikes and boards, and anything you need to keep dry while remaining accessible. It uses leftover lumber you may have at home, giving you a cheap alternative to those expensive factory racks that only work on the cars they are made for. No special tools or skill levels are required for assembly. The car rack uses leftover lumber from your old pallets or odd wooden pieces you may have lying around the shop. It is built flat to leave room for the rear door and trunk access in hatchback cars.

(Video) Simple DIY Roof Rack - Florida Fish Hunter

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Roof Rack to Hold Anything

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A roof rack is one of the most useful additions any driver can add to their ride. Going on road trips with your friends and family, heading out for a day's skiing, or just running errands, having additional space to carry surfboards, kayaks, skis, and even bicycles will make your life much easier. The Thule Portage roof rack can handle it all. Built side-by-side with Thule roof boxes and accessories for ease of use, the Portage roof rack has everything you need to mount it onto your vehicle.

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DIY Van Roof Rack

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A DIY Van Roof Rack offers you the possibility to cut off a large part of your fuel costs. This surface mount guide allows you to install a roof rack with legs and solar panels onto your van. If you follow this DIY step-by-step approach, you will safely mount four solar panels on a sturdy roof rack that won't make any noises or vibrations even at high speeds. This guide will give you step-by-step instructions on how to hook up a roof rack for your van that will allow you to turn it into an off-grid living machine! It's like having a complete RV/Camper without paying the price of a brand new rig.

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Roof Rack without Rattle

A roof rack system is an excellent solution for those interested in sporting equipment. But don't want to drain the precious cargo room in their vehicle. This option allows them to transport their kayaks, skis, bikes, or other equipment without worrying. About taking up valuable space inside their vehicle. Whether you're transporting your gear for a day at the lake or on a weekend camping trip. An excellent roof rack system will ensure that your gear arrives in good condition. With these easy-to-use accessories, you can protect your vehicle from unnecessary noise pollution. By raising your rooftop equipment and securing it to your vehicle's existing crossbars.

Roof Rack Design, Construction & Testing


This video is a fast-paced, step-by-step guide through the process of designing and constructing a roof rack for your car or van. The focus is optimizing storage space and making it an easy access point for loading and unloading equipment. Using this guide, you can make your rack to carry bikes, skis, and other equipment over the top of a car or van. It's inexpensive to transport that gear to your favorite spots, giving you more space inside your vehicle. This video walks you through every step, from design and materials to testing. So, you can build an effective and safe roof rack for all your gear.

Customized Roof/Cargo Rack

To equip your car with a Lifetime Sport Racks roof rack. Think of it as adding a new dimension to your car. Now you'll be able to carry kayaks, bikes, or extra luggage with accessories in one simple package. And not have to sacrifice the use of interior space for storage. Our roof racks are designed for easy, do-it-yourself installation and come with everything needed for a successful installation. Including rubber padding that protects your factory paint finish. Pick from a selection of racks, baskets, and accessories and make your vehicle for the garage.

Superstrut/Unistrut Roof Rack

Rearranging and rearranging is a regular thing with novice travelers. An extended carriage basket might be able to hold things more than its old version, but with Superstrut/Unistrut, anything is possible. You can either extend your current basket or make it a new one, which is handy for you. What's more, you can make alterations according to your convenience and requirement at any point in time. Follow these easy instructions and tips on getting the greatest use out of your Superstrut/Unistrut roof rack.

Bundle-Saving Roof Rack

Metal scraps are an essential material to create a high-quality rooftop rack. You can build almost any type of structure as you can free form the shape of your rack. Add an adequate number of supports. The frame from below should sufficiently support the roof structure to withstand; the cargo weight being carried on top of the metallic rooftop. The strong metal structures created using valuable metal scraps are highly reliable and sturdy, ensuring the protection of transported goods. This rack has ample support on an open-top structure, caged sides for additional safety, and surrounding rails for added protection.

Universal Soft Roof Rack

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The Universal Soft Roof Rack is a simple solution for anyone struggling to find an inexpensive way of hauling light. For long items without scratching the paint, drilling holes, or buying expensive crossbars. With this practical yet innovative hack, you can go from 1 rod to 2 rods in seconds. Energy-absorbing foam tubes hold the rods firmly yet gently and safely keep your cargo snug against the roof. This setup allows you to carry long items safely and securely. They have high shock resistance and show precise operation capability under high temperatures. Adding to this, they can recycle and provide an economical transportation solution.

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(Video) DIY unistrut roof rack on your sprinter van installed

DIY Aluminum Roof Rack

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Building a roof rack is a practical way to store extra luggage and contents for road trips. It’s not difficult, but you must know how to choose the correct size, set it up, and install it safely. You can choose from many products, but Aluminum is durable and lightweight. This DIY aluminum roof rack can accommodate two suitcases securely on your vehicle. The best part? You can customize it based on your vehicle’s specifications. It works great for carrying pets in their cages, transporting lumber, moving supplies, and other objects that offer extra storage space.

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Custom Roof Mounting System

This video tutorial will guide you through a custom roof mounting system. That can be easily assembled using scrap aluminum and screws. It takes only a few minutes to assemble. Plus can be used for various purposes, like carrying camping gear, spare parts, or other necessities. It comes in four pieces and an assortment of hardware, allowing you to mount virtually any bike rack or accessory to your vehicle’s roof. Racks can be easily disassembled if needed and attached to other vehicles. We inspire and make one!

Simple DIY Roof Rack

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The goal is to provide the ability to carry multiple kayaks up to the car's roof. I wanted something super quick, easy to install, and uninstall. Moderately priced, aesthetically appealing, and robust enough to carry two kayaks on top of an SUV. This instructable aims to show; you how to make a basic roof rack for your car from common and inexpensive parts. This can use as a base for a more complex design; to carry extra things like skis, kayaks, bicycles, etc. I'll show you how to make it as strong and rigid as possible.


16 DIY Roof Rack Ideas For All (12)


(Video) DIY Roof Rack Part 1 - Unistrut Mounting Rails for Under £50! | Sprinter/Crafter Van Conversion


Can I make my own roof rack? ›

Roof racks are a great way to add more storage to any vehicle, but finding the right one to fit your needs can be frustrating. Instead of settling for a rack that isn't perfect, you can build your own.

Can you make a roof rack out of wood? ›

I love building with wood, so I decided to make the roof rack from oak. I used re-purposed oak from large old shipping platforms that I got free from a local farm implement dealership. The lumber is solid oak and comes in a variety of dimensions.

Which is better steel or Aluminium roof rack? ›

Lighter/Stronger - Aluminium bars are lighter and stronger than steel bars – not only are they easier to move around and install on the vehicle but they also tend to have higher weight capacities than steel bars too, meaning they can carry more items or heavier objects.

Can you fit a roof rack without rails? ›

Fixed mounting points

If your car doesn't have any factory rails, don't worry; there are still options for you to put some bars on your roof. Some vehicles (BMW, Volkswagen, and Mazda especially) come from the factory with fixed mounting points.

How wide should roof rack be? ›

As long as the crossbars you use aren't wider than the widest part of the vehicle (usually the mirrors), which could be a safety problem or even illegal in some areas, you could certainly use longer crossbars than the 58 inch crossbars.

Can you carry a sheet of plywood on a roof rack? ›

I transport 4x8 plywood on my roof racks, I usually run a couple of 2x4s under the roof racks the full length of the ply and strap to those at the front and back as well as strapping to the actual roof racks. Makes it a lot harder for the winds to lift it up.

Does a roof rack affect insurance? ›

Unfortunately, many, if not most, insurers would consider a roof box and/or roof rack, a vehicle modification that they would need to be notified about. Failure to inform them of this addition could lead to you not being covered for damage or loss to the roof box or its contents.

What is the cheapest metal for a roof? ›

Corrugated steel panel roofs are the least expensive type of metal roofing, costing about $3.50 to $6.50 per square foot comparable to the price of asphalt shingle roofing. Average costs to install a corrugated steel roof would be from $10,500 to $19,500.

What is the best material for roof racks? ›

Steel vs aluminium: What material should you choose?
It's a more lightweight material so it's easier to manoeuvre Because it's lighter it creates less drag when the car is moving Better fuel economy In some cases, an aluminium frame can carry more itemsIt is more expensive

Why are metal roofs not more popular? ›

They're Expensive (initially)

The price for a regular asphalt shingle roof is approximately $1.75 per square foot. The cost to install a metal roof, however, can be anywhere between $3 and $14.

Why should a roof rack be removed when not in use? ›

Bits of road dust will get caught between the rack and roof over time and abrasion marks can result. So, remove the roof rack regularly to clean it underneath, even if it stays installed.

What's the difference between roof rack and roof bars? ›

Roof bars or crossbars are a set of usually two bars that run across the top of the car. A roof rack, by comparison, will feature more than two crossbars and is often modular in design. Sometimes the racks see a fixed format with a set number of crossbars.

Do I need to tell my insurance about a roof rack? ›

Always inform your insurer before you make any changes to your vehicle. Modifications can impact your insurance if they alter the vehicle's safety, increase the likelihood of an accident or increase the value of the vehicle.

How much overhang can a roof have without support? ›

Two feet is the general maximum length for a typical roof overhang. This will protect a roof from most types of damage. Roof overhangs can extend farther than 2 feet, but beyond this length, they begin to lose structural integrity and require external support.

What length can you carry on a roof rack? ›

The item must not protrude more than 50 cm from the side or rear of the car. The item must not protrude more than 15 cm from the front of the car. The maximum weight limit for any item attached to the roof is 100kg. This includes all combined weights of luggage and other items for SUVs or similar vehicles.

How far apart do roof racks have to be? ›

If no special fitting positions are given in the assembly instructions, the bars should be placed between 24 and 36 inches apart, measured from the same position of each crossbar. This distance provides the most support for roof-mounted Thule products.

Is it better to use OSB or plywood for roof? ›

It dries out relatively quickly, and the swelling is usually not enough to affect floor or roof finishes. OSB takes longer to get wet than plywood but also takes longer to dry out. When used as a roof sheathing, this tendency to hold moisture means it can degrade faster than plywood when exposed to chronic leaks.

Can you use 7/16 plywood on a roof? ›

Standard types of wood designed for roof sheathing are oriented strand board, known as OSB, and plywood, the most popular being OSB. Sheets of 7/16-inch thick, without edge support, can be used in an area where the snow load is 30 pounds per square foot.

Should roofing nails penetrate the plywood? ›

Roofing nails shall be of sufficient length to penetrate through the existing covering and into the sheathing a minimum of 3/4 inch or through 1/2 inch plywood.

Is it illegal to drive with something strapped to your roof? ›

Roof-racks and boxes are a great way of carrying large or awkward items but you'll need to stay within the maximum permitted roof load. Anything carried on the roof must be attached securely: The Highway Code simply says: "you must secure your load and it must not stick out dangerously"

Does a roof rack count as a modification? ›

A roof rack is considered a vehicle modification, and as with any other modification, installing one could affect your eligibility for car insurance coverage or alter the type of coverage you need.

Is a roof rack considered a modification? ›

Roof Rack = Car Modification

A roof rack is technically considered a modification and adding anything to your car may affect your eligibility for insurance or alter the type of insurance you need. You should always contact your insurance broker before making any modifications to your car.

How much weight can a 2x4 hold? ›

When standing vertically, such as when it functions as a stud, a 2×4 can hold about 1,000 pounds. A 2×4 can hold up to 40 pounds or 300 pounds when laying on its edge without sagging when laying horizontally.

What color metal roof is best? ›

Muted shades are going to be the best bet here, so stick with things like black, brown, and gray. Blue is also a good option, but don't choose bright shades. Blue exteriors rely on cooler shades, and the roof should complement that color. Blacks and grays are the best choices.

Do metal roofs affect WIFI? ›

In fact, countless homeowners and businesses have installed metal roofs due to their many benefits and have no issues with their internet connections. Not only will a metal roof not block your wi-fi signals, but you also won't have trouble with cell phone reception, either.

What metal roof lasts the longest? ›

Considered to be the grandfather of metal roofing, copper roofs have been used for centuries around the world. Copper is an extremely long-lasting metal that in ideal environments, can last well over 200+ years.

What material lasts the longest on a roof? ›

Roofing material that lasts the longest are concrete, clay or slate tiles. These materials significantly outperform other natural products like wood shakes or any manufactured roofing materials including asphalt shingles and metal roofing.

How much weight can I put on a roof rack? ›

Overloading a roof rack can cause serious problems. For this reason, the universal cap for a roof rack is roughly 165 pounds.

Do soft roof racks scratch your car? ›

Soft racks work good did some trips down south from perth with them, but i wouldnt go on a dusty, sandy run up north with them unless your not worried about your cars paintwork. The grit can get under the straps and scratch the paintwork. As for denting the roof i never had any problems when i used to use them.

Are metal roofs loud when raining? ›

We'll get right to the point–no, metal roofs are not loud in the rain. Preventing sounds from hitting hard, flat surfaces is key to noise reduction. A flat, uncoated sheet of metal–like the smooth surface of a drum–has no way to shorten the prolonged sound reflection, known as reverberation.

Do metal roofs attract lightning? ›

Extensive research has proven that metal roofing is no more likely to attract a lightning strike than any other type of roofing material. In fact, as a non-combustible material with the highest Class A fire-resistance rating, metal roofing is one of the best materials for homes in lightning-prone regions.

Should a metal roof be grounded? ›

The short answer is no, a metal roof does not need to be grounded. In most cases, you will not incur additional risk if you don't ground it. Metal does conduct electricity. But when dealing with a full roof, a lightning strike would ground out through the structure, causing no more harm than non-metal roofs would.

How much mpg do you lose with a roof rack? ›

The control test—the TourX without roof rails installed—revealed that adding roof rails alone decreased the car's fuel economy by about seven percent, or a negative -2 mpg change.

Does a roof rack increase fuel consumption? ›

Even an empty roof rack can add up to 15% to your fuel bill. The added weight and air resistance of a roof box, bikes or luggage strapped to the roof makes it worse. The higher the speed and the smaller, more aerodynamic the vehicle, the greater the effect.

What will a heavy load on your roof rack cause? ›

Explanation: A heavy load on your roof rack will reduce the stability of the vehicle because it moves the centre of gravity away from that intended by the manufacturer. Be aware of this when you drive around bends and corners.

Do you need the cross rails for a roof rack? ›

A basic rack system consists of crossbars and supports. You need two crossbars to go across your vehicle and a way of attaching those bars to your vehicle.

Do I need cross bars for a roof rack? ›

Crossbars are required when using a roof rack to carry heavy loads.

What do insurance adjusters look for on roofs? ›

An insurance adjuster's job is to determine if roof damage exists, what caused the damage, and if the damage is covered under your insurance policy. Adjusters also assess the value of the damage against the current value of your roof.

What should I not tell the insurance company? ›

Never give out names of anyone else involved in the accident. It's not your responsibility, and since you don't have all the facts, what you reveal could be incorrect. If your insurance company wants names, advise them that they can talk to your attorney, if you have one, or just say you do not know.

What should I not tell insurance? ›

When providing notice to your insurance company, however, you do not have to make any statements on the details of what happened in your accident. While you must notify the insurance company of the accident, you should not explain the details of the accident, your injuries, or other potential damages at this time.

Can you strap things to the roof of your car without a rack? ›

If you don't have a roof rack, run the tie-down straps through the doors, not the windows. To protect your roof from damage, it's best to lay down a blanket or towel first. When securing straps through the doors, give it a twist first to help keep the noise down and prevent the amount of force on the straps.

Can you add a roof rack to any car? ›

Many vehicles are readily equipped with some form of roof rails — which you may notice when buying a car. Some manufacturers may offer these rails standard, while others provide them as an option instead. If your car doesn't have any, they can be installed separately.

Will a roof rack damage my car? ›

In short, no. A car roof rack will not damage your vehicle. Improper use, incorrect installation, and carelessness will, though.

Do roof racks add value to your car? ›

Car racks are a great way to boost resale value. They don't change the look of the vehicle much but add much needed cargo space.

What is the difference between roof rails and roof racks? ›

Basically, the key difference between these two is the direction that they're mounted on the roof of your vehicle. Roof rails run along the length of your car's roof, whilst roof racks are mounted from door to door across your roof.

How much weight can you put on a car roof? ›

Generally, the weight limit of your vehicle's roof depends on whether or not there is a moonroof. If you have a moonroof, the weight limit is usually 125 pounds. Without one, it's usually 200 pounds. That said, be sure to check your car owner's manual to confirm what your car can hold.

Do roof racks hurt gas mileage? ›

Our experts recommend that consumers remove the roof rack and rooftop carrier when they won't be using it. Sedan owners in particular suffer a big impact on fuel economy with just the roof rack installed. But even for SUV owners, there's no need to drive around with an empty pod and rack hurting your fuel economy.

How fast can you drive with roof rack? ›

Find Camping Gear recommends that if you use a cargo box such as one made by Thule, you should keep your speed under 90 mph (which we would advise even if you weren't hauling a cargo box). Keeping a slower speed is recommended to maintain safe control of your vehicle.

Does a roof rack waste fuel? ›

Even an empty roof rack can add up to 15% to your fuel bill. The added weight and air resistance of a roof box, bikes or luggage strapped to the roof makes it worse. The higher the speed and the smaller, more aerodynamic the vehicle, the greater the effect.


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