How To Build A Roof Rack Without Welding

Last Updated on June 20, 2023 by Will Sabel

If you are an adventurous person, then you probably know how important a roof rack on your car can turn out to be. A carrier like this helps to load excessive luggage, bikes, kayaks, etc. on top of your car. If you want a roof rack, you will need to purchase it, which can be expensive.

For those who are keen DIYers, you can opt to make a roof rack and save money. Surprised? Don’t be! Today we will discuss an easier route. In this article, we will talk about how to build a roof rack without welding.

You’ve seen it right. No need for melting and joining metals, you can affix them in a much more convenient way and form a frame on top of your car. Keep reading to know more.

Why Not Weld Roof Racks?

First of all, there is nothing wrong with welding. The heating process to melt and join metals works in some cases and sometimes it doesn’t. If you are a pro at it, then you can use the welding tools and make a frame for your car. 

For starters it’s best to avoid welding because it requires heating of metal parts which has to be done under supervision, otherwise, there are chances of accidents. More importantly, welding joints are kinda brittle compared to other attachments.

If the craftsmanship is not up to the mark, it can cause severe stress to the affixing metal parts and result in breakage.  

How To Build A Roof Rack Without Welding – 2 Bar Roof Rack

The most straightforward roof racks for vehicles are the ones with two bars. Two vertical bars on the roof endings make up a decent racking system. If you have a garage to assemble the buts, then you can come up with your creation rather than needing to purchase this kind of rack. Check out the process below. 

Step 1: Things You Will Need

  • Marking tool
  • Tape measure
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits (⅜ inches)
  • ½ inches socket wrench
  • Two galvanized fork latch
  • Square tube steel (8 feet)
  • Plastic caps
  • 4 galvanized nuts (5/16 inches)
  • 4 galvanized carriage bolts (5/16 inches x 4 inches)
  • Spray paint
  • Sawing tool
  • Acetone solution

Step 2: Clean And Size The Metal Bars

Start by measuring the width of the roof rails on the top of your car with a tape measure. Now you would want to clean the tube steel that you got. Use the acetone solution to take out any kind of stitch residues. Using the marker, ink the ends where you need the cut. Then use the sewing tool to cut it. 

Step 3: PinPoint The Rail Locations 

Car rails vary from vehicle to vehicle, so you would want to locate the exact location where the brackets overlap. The best way to do it is to put the rails on top and measure where the insertion will potentially sit. 

Now when you’ve marked it with the ink, take the rails on a workable surface and use the drill bits to insert holes. 

Step 4: Fine Tune The Bars

After drilling holes, the metal bars will be left unclean and you would want to use a hand tool like a rasp to deburr the endings carefully. This should also take out any excessive attachments. 

Step 5: Paint The Rods

After deburring, you can paint the metal bars using spray paint or simply use acetone to provide a cleaner outcome. For coloring purposes, we prefer you buy paints that can protect the metal from weather hazards. 

Finish it up by attaching caps to the end of the metal bars to avoid water seeping in. 

Step 6: Attaching The Racks

Using the brackets on the fork latch, place the bolts right through the underside of the hole you created earlier and make them appear on top. Now that the bolts are showing on the top, you must lock them using nuts and tighten them with the socket wrench. 

Make sure you fasten each end where the metal rods line up against the rails. Tighten the nuts properly and test them by pushing and pulling. If they are not moving, then you’ve done a fine job. Your 2-bar roof rack is ready for use.  

Making An Extensive Frame On Roof Rack

Now moving on to a more complicated version of roof rack where you need to build a frame that covers every side of the roof. This is what you can do. 

1. For extensive frame structure, the base rod fitting is the same as you’ve done in step 6 in the previous section. 

2. Now to make them go around and cover the entire roof perimeter, you will need conduits and connectors to attach the 90-degree metal rods with the perpendicular ones on the sides. 

3. To attach horizontal rack bars you will need to line up the rods in succession. Now hammer each end to flatten the surface, then apply drilling and screw edges to the conduits below. 

4. To give the framing an extension over the top, you can add a little bit smaller frame on top of it and attach them with tie bars. When applying tie bars, make sure the upper and love frame is screwed properly on the tie bar area. 

Once the fittings are in place, test the structural integrity by pushing and pulling. See if they move, if not, then you are good to go. There you have it, a custom-built roof rack. 

Benefits of a DIY Non-Welded Roof Rack

Easy installation and removal: Non-welded roof racks can be easily installed or removed without the need for professional help.

No welding skills required: There’s no need to have welding skills or tools. This makes the process more accessible to individuals with no welding skills.

Lightweight design: Non-welded roof racks are generally made of lightweight materials. So, it’s easier to handle, maneuver, and install.

Easy repairs: Non-welded roof racks rely on fasteners and connectors. You can quickly repair or replace damaged components with minimal effort.

Budget-friendly: A DIY non-welded roof rack is cost-effective as you can source affordable materials and avoid the extra cost of professional welding services.

Lower risk of corrosion: Non-welded roof racks often feature materials that are resistant to rust and corrosion. Thus, structural integrity and longevity are maintained.


Is welding necessary on roof racks? No, it is not mandatory because there are alternatives to welding and still enjoy a durable frame on top of your car. The above article points out a step-by-step guide on how to build a roof rack without welding

When working with rods and screws, you must be aware of the potential dangers. So it’s best if you work in your garage and make sure you have every piece of equipment to fit the racks perfectly on the roof. 

It’s not that you just go on and put metal bars on top, you will have to work your way, cut them, line them up, attach them with bolts and fine-tune many elements. Always double-check the framing when you’re done, so that the next time you drive, the new racks won’t fall apart. Happy driving!

DIY roof rack no welding

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Author: Will Sabel

Will Sabel is an avid car enthusiast. When he's not writing for RidersWant, you'll find him cruising the country in a new car. People are always wondering how many cars he has!

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