When it comes to at-home water conservation, nothing equals a rain barrel. Placed near a gutter or downspout, it collects precious rainwater that can be used to water your garden and indoor plants and even wash your car, lowering your monthly water bills. And rain barrels don’t have to be boring, either – in addition to the traditional shape, there are barrels shaped like urns, boulders, log racks…some even have a space to let you place a plant on top.
And if you feel like getting creative, even better – Plow & Hearth's own Weather-Resistant Polyethylene Plastic 55-Gallon Rain Barrels can be painted to either blend in with the background or “pop” as a unique work of art. Here are the steps to help you get started:
Clean the rain barrel’s surface. Vinegar is a great cleaning choice because it’s environmentally friendly and very economical while still effective for killing most mold, bacteria, germs and odors. Just add one part white distilled vinegar to one part warm water and apply it to the barrel’s surface with a sponge, allowing it to dry naturally. Two parts ammonia mixed with one part water also makes an effective cleaning solution.
Rough it up. Once the rain barrel is completely dry, lightly sand it with a sheet of very fine sandpaper (900 or 1200 grit is recommended). This will help the paint to adhere to the rain barrel’s surface. (Note that while most brands of paint specifically designed for plastic surfaces will say this step is not necessary, it will definitely help keep the painted surface of your rain barrel looking fresh.)
Zap the dust. Vacuum the barrel’s surface, then rinse it with clean water to wash away any dust remaining. Dry the barrel with a microfiber or other lint-free cloth, or allow it to air-dry in the sun.
Apply a primer coat. You’ll definitely need a latex-bonding primer coat when using acrylic, tempera and oil-based paints. Paints designed to adhere to plastic surfaces (which we recommend you use) say you can skip the primer coat, but consider adding one anyway – it’s the best way to guard against the cracking, peeling or flaking that can occur to a painted rain barrel that’s being used outdoors.
Pick your paints. As long as you’re using a primer coat and a seal, you can use most types of outdoor paint on your rain barrel, but for longevity we recommend paints designed to go over plastic surface. Krylon Fusion For Plastic® is an excellent choice, and can be found, along with other suitable paints, in most body shops. One spray can will cover an entire rain barrel, but two cans will provide a more even finish (particularly when working with darker colors).
Start painting. Cover the spray can’s spigot and overflow valve with masking tape and shake the can vigorously for about two minutes. Remove the tape and spray the rain barrel in a sweeping motion, keeping the nozzle at an even distance of about 8 to 10 inches from the surface. Apply thin coats (allowing at least 30 seconds between the first and subsequent coats) to prevent runs and drips.
Get creative. You can paint your rain barrel to blend in with your house or outbuildings, but don’t be afraid to make it stand out – a shiny metallic rain barrel can add a touch of elegance to your outdoor space, while using more than one color can look chic. Or get in touch with your inner artist and recreate landscapes, favorite cartoon characters, geometric designs, or an original creation of your own. You can even make it a great outdoor project to enjoy with the kids, resulting in a unique garden accent with great memories attached.
Seal it. Once you’ve finished painting your rain barrel, apply a clear polyurethane finish to help keep the paint from cracking and flaking while the barrel is being empty or filled.
With these simple steps, you’re free to turn your water-saving, eco-friendly rain barrel into a fun, backyard fashion statement. Enjoy yourself, and be sure to share a photo of your artistic creation with us when you’ve finished – we’d love to post it on our blog!
Back to Top