How to Build a Rain Barrel – Urban Life (DIY)
A Rain Barrel is a great way to save a little cash, help the environment and even class up your house.
Imagine how much water you could collect when for every 500 square feet of roof equals around 300 gallons of water for every inch of rain. That is a great deal of water that usually goes right down your downspout to one area of your yard, or worse your driveway, street or sidewalk. By using a rain barrel you can collect water to use on your plants, garden and lawn that would otherwise go to waste. Be sure to check with your local ordinances though, as states like Colorado and Nevada the use of rain barrels is illegal for one crazy reason or another.
I will show you in a few easy steps how to build a rain barrel inexpensively and creatively.
First you will need a few supplies, most of which you can find at your local hardware store. I purchased mine at Lowes and have provided the item numbers to make your shopping list easier.
- PVC 3/4″ x 1″ SCH 40 Slip and Thread Adapter – Lowe’s part #22695 made by Lasco (2 per barrel)
- PVC 3/4″ Elbow [Threaded] – Lowe’s part #126822 made by Lasco (1 per barrel)
- 3/4″ quarter-turn brass Sillcock – Lowe’s part #248909 made by American Valve (1 per barrel)
- 1″ zinc flat washers -Lowe’s part #15012 made by Hillman (2 per barrel)
You can purchase a food grade 55 gallon drum at many local retailers. I bought a couple of Mt. Olive 55 Gallon Barrels from Duval Container Company for around $25.
ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES NEEDED
One tube of silicone caulk
One 20” x 20” piece of fiberglass screen
Roll of paper towels & trash bag
One 6’ or 15’ section of garden hose for overflow
One flexible downspout extension
Two concrete blocks and a 16” x 16” concrete stepping stone for base
1” spade bit
Arc joint (slip joint) pliers – jaws must open to at least 1 ¾”
Caulking gun unless using squeezable caulk.
Scissors (to trim the screen)
Hacksaw (if you have gutters and downspouts)
Ten Easy Steps on How to Build a Rain Barrel
Step One: purchase a food grade 55 gallon drum
Step Two : Paint the barrel (I used Valspar Premium Finish Paint and Primer)
Step Three: Drill a 1″ hole about 6″ from the top of the barrel and another about 7″ from the bottom.
Step Four: Attach PVC 3/4″ x 1″ SCH 40 Slip and Thread Adapter, PVC 3/4″ Elbow and 1″ zinc flat washer. Use silicone caulk to seal the attachment. This will create an overflow.
Step Five: Attach PVC 3/4″ x 1″ SCH 40 Slip and Thread Adapter, 3/4″ quarter-turn brass Sillcock and the other 1″ zinc flat washer in the bottom hole. This will be your hose drain access point.
Step Six: Drill several 1″ holes in the lid of the barrel, this will allow for water to flow into the barrel while keeping out large debris.
Step Seven: Cut a 20″ x 20″ piece of fiberglass screen and lay across the top of the barrel.
Step Eight: re-attach the lid, keeping the screen in place. This will prevent more debris and pesky critters from going in for a swim.
Step Nine: Use two (or four) concrete blocks and the stepping stone to create an elevated stand where you want your barrel placed.
Step 10: Cut the gutter with a hacksaw and attach the flexible downspout extension as needed to redirect the water flow to the barrel.
By installing a rain barrel (or in my case two) that is plenty of water gathered during each rain fall, which in Florida is almost daily, to water a lot of plants. We use ours to water our garden as well as our decorative landscape. By attaching a hose to the sillcock and draining the barrel regularly you can save on your water bill, meanwhile helping the environment.
There are a great deal of areas around the country that suffer from drought and water restrictions. For less than 50 bucks at your local hardware store you can make a difference. If you do not feel so compelled to DIY, there are plenty of pre-made rain barrel solutions available as well.
About Charles Johnston
Charles is a Christian, husband and father of fur-kids who shares his walk with others in hopes to help other's along the way.