Creative Ways To Upcycle Old Paint Cans To Use In Your Home And Garden

If you've done any redecorating lately, you might have an empty paint can that you're ready to toss. However, throwing it in the garbage is discarding so much potential. The paint can's resealable lid, sturdy metal material, slim handle, and hollow interior make it a great item to repurpose around your home and yard. We have eight creative ways to turn the old supply into decor, storage, and garden accessories.

All of these repurposing ideas use a standard gallon-sized metal paint can (or multiple). However, these upcycling projects can also be completed with different paint can sizes. Large cans work best for storage applications, while small containers are better as decorative pieces. Tin cans and plastic paint buckets are also suitable substitutes for some of these hacks. 

Whatever container you use, ensure it is clean before repurposing it. If there's any leftover latex paint, dry it out with kitty litter or sawdust (oil-based paints have to be disposed of properly at a paint collection facility, as they're flammable). Once empty, soak the paint cans in soapy water for 30 minutes or use a paint remover to strip any stuck-on dye before washing the entire canister with soap and water. You can also remove the label by covering it in oil and soaking it in hot water, then scrubbing it off. Once the can is clean, it's ready to be transformed.

1. Create storage cubbies

Save your paint cans to create unique, functional wall storage for any room in your home. By attaching the bottom of the can to a wall, you can create a cubby to store various items. Large paint buckets are best for this project to get the most storage space from a single container. If you mount multiple paint cans together, they will create a large organizer that doubles as a unique furniture piece in your home. You could also hang items from the handles as well.

2. House kitchen utensils

Free up room in your kitchen drawer by letting the old paint can house your cooking utensils. Simply fill the basin with your most used kitchenware and place it on top of the counter. You can also hang the container from its handle on a wall hook to maximize unused space. Other options include removing the handle or simply facing it towards the back of the container. To elevate the look of the holder, cover it with a fresh coat of paint or contact paper before adding a cute label.

3. Make a snack bucket

Another way to use a paint can is to turn it into a snack bucket. Just like with the utensil holder trick, you can make the canister look new and double as decor by brushing on some paint and adding a label. Then, fill it with your goodies and leave the bucket on the kitchen counter or in the pantry. The handle makes it portable, so you can keep the snacks handy wherever you need them, whether when entertaining guests in the backyard or watching movies in the living room.

4. Ice off the champagne or other drinks

A paint can isn't just great for housing utensils and snacks but beverages, too. You can turn the metal container into an ice bucket to cool your drinks. To make cleanup easy, line the paint can with a large resealable plastic bag before pouring in the ice cubes, then tuck the edges of the bag down into the can so they're not visible. You can also seal the ice bucket with the paint can lid to use it as a small portable cooler.

5. Craft a decorative canister

With a little creativity, you can turn the paint can into an ornamental piece to display on a bookcase, shelf, or tabletop. Just decorate the paint can, and voilà. Self-adhesive wallpaper and stencils are an easy way to add an elaborate pattern to the outside of the container. The stylish bucket can also be functional and could hold faux flowers, pencils, tall candles, and other items. Feel free to decorate the paint can lid as well to top off the design.

6. Plant flowers or other greenery

You can also give an old paint can new life by turning it into a gorgeous planter. All you need to do is drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of the can, pour in the potting soil, and plant your flowers or greenery. The industrial pots will look good stacked on ladder rungs or sitting on a side table. Or, with some decorative rope, you could create a harness for the paint can and transform it into a hanging planter.

7. Feed the birds

The local birds in your community can benefit from an old paint can, too. One way to make a DIY bird feeder is to use the empty bucket as a basin for seeds. First, turn the can on its side and attach a lip to the opening so the bird seeds don't spill out. Then, secure a wooden dowel to the lip for a perch and planks on top to make a triangular roof. Lastly, hang your feeder with some rope or twine, add the food, and watch for the birds.

8. DIY lanterns

Last but not least, we're turning the empty paint can into an outdoor lantern. For this creation, you'll need to drill holes into the sides of the can to diffuse the light. You can drill the holes randomly or try different decorative patterns for a more stylish design. Once all the holes are in place, spray paint the can and add an LED candle inside. Your homemade lanterns will provide a soft glow you can use to light up your walkway, balcony, or even inside your home. You can either remove the handles or use them to hang your creations around your space.