Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DIY Super Fast Super Easy Cardboard City Skyline Parade Float

I recently was tasked with building a city skyline for a parade float.  As usual, I used cardboard and duct tape as most of my materials, along with some spray paint.  I had to make a lot of buildings, so I figured out a basic form and then made slight variations to make the buildings vaguely unique.  I also ended up doing some specific buildings from the St Paul skyline, but those were just variations on my generic buildings.  Note: many times when I say 'I' in this post I mean 'we,' thanks Cynthia!

Here's how to do it:

1) Start with a bunch of broken down cardboard boxes.  Each half box gets you 1 building by using the largest rectangular side as the building itself, the two smaller flaps (top and bottom of box) on either side of that as support, and the smaller side of the box as the base.  See diagram for how to cut and fold the boxes.

2) Duct tape this all together, then spray paint the main building front.  I used brown, gray, and a sort of sandstone beige color.

3) Use black or silver duct tape to make windows.  You can make windows either as square, rectangles, or long strips of tape (I ripped the tape in half lengthwise for the long strips so they would be proportional).  Here you can see some of the variations on window designs I used.

4) Attach to float! We had a wooden based trailer, so we used a staple gun to keep the buildings down.  We also put cardboard backdrops (painted silver) behind them so you couldn't see the backs of the buildings from the other side.


  1. I know this post is almost a decade old, but it just helped me tremendously! I am making a skyline for a float tomorrow and have been searching for ideas for 30 minutes without finding anything that I liked. This is perfect!!! Thank you for the step-by-step guide!

  2. I also, thank you for this post. After many hours of searching I found your post to be very simple and straight forward. I am helping my 4 year old build a city so he can play transformers. All my best and stay healthy and safe this Corona season.

  3. I hope it helped! I had not thought of using it as a playset; great idea!

  4. Thank you! I am creating this for a 8th grade prom. I couldn't find anything! This is the best!