Picture of CD/DVD Roofing Concept
I needed a use for old CDs and DVDs. My friend runs a website selling media items (mediamad.co.uk) and he gave me a stack of CDs and DVDs that he couldn't sell for a project of mine that never reached completion. To use them up I thought up this, and after not being able to find it on the web or instructables, I felt obliged to follow Kiteman's zeroth law.

This method of drilling, arranging and nailing disks works great for any roofing that has wooden board underneath. Structures like sheds, dog houses, lean-tos and porches are easy to cover and it makes a great hard-wearing, long lasting (I hope), cheap and most importantly.... green, method of roofing.

CDs and DVDs are readily available if you scrounge around. Ask friends, post on local sites like freecycle or craigslist, ads in the free local paper; these ways soon add up to thousands if you're happy to do a little walking/cycling around your town to pick them up.

Using this method, you need as few as 120 disks per square meter, and the method of drilling and arranging used means no water runs through the holes in the CD!

Step 1: Pros and Cons

This method of roofing is a great way to use old and unwanted CD/DVDs. In a lot of places recycling facilities exist, but disks are not an item thrown away often enough to warrant curbside collection and so often they just get thrown away.

If you've got old disks you want to get rid of, first think whether there might be someone able to reuse them before drilling holes in them and tacking them to your shed roof! Software, music and films might be of interest to your friends or families and are often accepted by charity shops as a good product to sell on.

For junk mail CDs and badly damaged or scratched CDs/DVDs, it is better to reuse them than throw them away or recycle them. If they can be of use for another 5 years before needing to be replaced then that's better than transporting them to a recycling plant to be melted down and MUCH better than them just taking a trip to landfill. Landfill is a dark, scary place!

Step 2: Disk Arrangement

Picture of Disk Arrangement
Disk arrangement is critical to ensure that only one hole per disk must be drilled, one nail per disk used and to make sure no water gets through.

It may look complicated at first but once you grasp how to arrange them, it's pretty easy! The animated gif below should help. The second picture illustrates how the drilled hole aligns to the disk below, it narrowly misses the disk, covering the hole below. The third picture is my first correct attempt at arranging them on my living room floor (without the nails of course).

Step 3: Drilling Jig

Picture of Drilling Jig
For speed, you need to be able to drill a hole in the same place in the CD consistently, for this I designed and built this jig. It has to be the ugliest conglomeration of wood and nails I've ever thrown together.

I found that the hole should be drilled anywhere on the ring where the central clear area meets the foil. This will allow you to nail through the CD without the CD below it needing a hole in it. The pictures should explain better than I can.

A stack of disks can be push into the jig once the drill bit is centered on the cross, at which point 10 or more disks can be drilled at a time, tipped out and then another load done. Easy!

If you don't have a pillar drill, build the same jig then screw a baton across the top with a hole in it in the right place through which to stick your bit. This should be equally quick. I ended up using my Dremel with a plunge attachment and a 3mm metal bit.

Step 4: Drilling

Picture of Drilling
The amount of disks you can drill at once will depend upon the thickness of the jig you've built. I found if I didn't fill the jig the bottom of my plunge router attachment wouldn't press on the CDs and they'd rattle as I drilled. My jig fitted 14 disks at a time.

The loose block of wood you can see in the photo is to knock all of the disks into the correct alignment.

Once aligned correctly, drill through the disks quickly, in several plunging motions. Once all the way through all disks, remove them from the jig as soon as possible. They will have melted together slightly from the heat of the bit. Separate them from each other with a twisting motion. Before I worked this out I tried to prise them apart and cracked a few.

Step 5: To shine or not to shine?

Picture of To shine or not to shine?
To help you make your mind up whether to nail your disks shiny side up or down, here are some pictures of them both ways up. I personally think the shiny side up looks nicer.

Some advantages to shiny side up:
- Might keep your dog house or shed cooler in the summer months, always a plus!
- The CDs might last longer if they reflect some of the UV rays, we'll see!

Some disadvantages of shiny side up:
- May annoy the neighbors when the sun's low.
- Some might think it looks silly!

Step 6: Nailing

To hold the disks in place I chose 16mm tacs. They have nice wide flat heads to hold the disks in place without splitting them. The shafts were about 2.5mm so perfect for the holes I had drilled.

For the first layer at the bottom, lay the disks out first before you start nailing to make sure you get the alignment right.

To avoid crushed fingers I found I could push the tacs in to start with then once they stood up unaided, hammer them home with a couple of taps of the hammer. I expected splitting of the disks to be a problem, but it didn't seem to be.

Start at the bottom and work your way up, being careful to cover the holes as explained in step 2.

To nail all 135 to the board took me only 50 minutes. A lot slower than roofing with roofing felt, but a lot cooler and greener too!

Step 7: Longevity

Picture of Longevity
The pictures below show the finished concept board. Since I don't have a shed or a dog house I thought I'd demonstrate the concept and test how it holds out against the elements so that others can use this knowledge to roof if they wish to.

I have some concerns about the ability of CDs and DVDs to hold up against frost and UV. If you'd like to be kept up to date with how they're holding up, please subscribe to me. I will post a forum topic in April once the frosts are over and then again in August after it's been out in the sun all summer.

April Update: (remind me if I haven't posted it by May 2010)

August Update:

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22tpring3 years ago
Really like this idea...was wondering if you could use the existing hole with a roofing nail (large head) and add something like a washer around the nail head to bridge the gap.
I live in the desert, where cd's would not even make it a 1/4 of the year in the sun but my first thought was ELASTOMERIC roof coating over the cd's would protect the surface and add another layer of moisture proofing. Or an aluminum roof coating like those used on mobile homes. I have the perfect project for this (a small 8 x 10 shed I'm starting to build from a free metal frame) and will post my results when I am done. I have both elastomeric and aluminum roof coating so perhaps I will try the experiment with both paints on each side of the roof.
Have you also thought of just using a product like Liquid Nails to glue down the discs? (Of course, wind being a factor) but again, if you "seal" the project with a paintable roof coating there is no gap for the wind to get under and work its magic.
bcox17 22tpring3 months ago
they sell siding nails just like what you mentioned with fat heads and a little rubber washer that fits really snug and swells into any gap or crack sealing it off. they even come in ring shanks in stainless steel to help them stay in the wood under constant tension and resist corrosion.
jledesma12 years ago
Hi, and how was the durability at all?
Jayefuu (author)  jledesma12 years ago
Pretty good. There was a little bit of crazing of the foil after a year and a half but the polycarbonate wasn't brittle or cracked, just the foil. I threw it away after that as I moved.
Rhamkota3 years ago
The UV rays can break down the plastic in the cd's and warp them
hhamilton23 years ago
This would also make a great chicken shed roof.
22tpring3 years ago
Oh! Oh! You could use a wall of them in your mini-greenhouse this year to help warm up the vegetables.

Love dem shiny discs!
22tpring3 years ago
To respond to a the solar panel idea, you could use the discs to augment an existing solar array but must be careful as to heat loads on the solar panels. You could also try an experiment with parabolic solar arrays (the discs would act as the reflective material to heat up the water which turns it to steam).
Yeah, I'm a solar nerdy.
shortw4 years ago
I left a hand-full of CD's out side to see what happen.
They did not even last 3/4 of a year. The lacquer, the print, the aluminum foil, all came off and left a mess. The only thing that was still ok was the plastic.

If you use it inside like ryanmercer said, then they going to last a long time.
That's why you remove the label first. I've found that steel wool removes it well while also giving it a really cool effect. Then your just left with the plastic. While not as interesting before it looks pretty decent if you spray paint abstract designs underneath. My fear with doing it long term outside would be heat resulting in warping. I may try this to create small cold boxes for my garden because I'm really curious about how it may come together.

We used this this similar idea on a float one year to make the scales on The Rainbow Fish for the library float. I wish I could find the photos to share.
aalv20034 years ago
Sorry!!! 256 CDs for each square meter...
aalv20034 years ago
Than you for sharing your great idea!! Im collecting old CDs to start my BBQ roof right now, but Im having problems with the numbers. You wrote with this method will need 120 CDs for each square meter, but drawing the arrangement in Corel Draw I get 424 CDs for square meter... Im doing some wrong?
ryanmercer4 years ago
Forget using these for roofing, I want to do this to the walls of a room!
cool idea
Jayefuu (author)  ryanmercer4 years ago
I want you to too. :D
HamenChips4 years ago
Your house will become a giant deathray!
HEY UPDATE THIS YOU SAID TO REMIND YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
shortw4 years ago

This is a good idea, but..........

Covering a doghouse should be ok.

Using it for a shad or for the house will not or may not pass the building code, which may be different for each state, county or city.
If a person get hurt or a property get damaged the insurance may deny to pay for it and you have to pay.
There is no fire rating on CD and they will burn easy, therefore there are not suitable for roofing and against the fire code.
Shingles have a specific wind load to meet and they glue each other together with the little strip on the back side, CD's would need to be glued together to increase the wind load, but since CD's are not tested for a wind load they should not be used and are illegal to use as a building material.
The reflection of the sunlight from the  CD's could make a pilot lose control of a aircraft even more if the structure is close to a airport.
It does not have to be concave to reflect, but a big amount of surface would have the same effect than a bright big light assembly like stadium and all lights would be facing the same way.
Or a neighbors building could heat up because of it.
This happen with a hotel in reno Nevada. There windows reflected the sun-rays and heated the neighborhood up so bad that there Ac systems could not handle it, so the hotel was forced to replace there windows plus they had to put a 35 foot tall wall up.

Regular shingles use about 3-4 nails per shingle. How many nails, glue and silicone-glue would you use if you use CD's in place of shingles?

You still would have the same problems if you would use it as a siding material.

This is a good idea, but because of liability and hassles the town officials could give you , I would not recommend this.
party pooper
tawk shortw4 years ago
The "Concept," part sounds great.
mechaninja tawk4 years ago
i think someone already tried this with LPs...
This is a wonderful way to recycle and be creative at the same time! I love the CD roof idea, it looks cool and stylish for a shed or dog house, maybe I will offer something like this to my customers!! http://www.room2roof.com
teenabrayen4 years ago
I was looking at this and am trying to think of a way to turn this into a solar panel. Any ideas would be nice.

As well, I was wondering, if you are worried about longevity what about covering this with plexiglass. As this would save from rain getting in the holes or possible weather cracking the cd/dvd. Just an idea to add a bit of life to this wonderful creation.

I am going to try to add a roof of these to my kids playhouse as it is cheaper and makes use of all these old CD/DVDs that are no longer used and had ads and AOL useless information.
theodoor4 years ago
this is very awesome for a nice roofing it will stand in community
This is really great!

I've been considering building a bike shelter for our family and I want to do as much of it out of recycled/reclaimed/repurposed objects as possible. I've got a ton of ancient software disks that have just been waiting for good use; I think I've just found it.
ironsmiter4 years ago
Our accounts show your august update now 60 days overdue.

To keep your instructable in good standing, please submit payment immediately. We accept check, credit card, and picture/description updates.

Your attention to this issue is greatly appreciated.

Faithful readers.
Jayefuu (author)  ironsmiter4 years ago
Ha ha. Thanks. I will write the update soon. It's still in good nick.
For real roofing requirement this one might not be so suitable but for decorative purposes I think this can be great. We're going to Burning Man (a weeklong camp in the desert) and been looking around for decorative ideas. Not only would lining the roof of our tents look cool with this but it may also help in deflecting the suns rays and keeping the tents a little cooler! In our case we may just create lines of cds using dental floss and overlap each line accordingly. Thanks for the tut!
Jayefuu (author)  krunkosaurus4 years ago
I'd love to see photos of that :D Thanks
How about a (temporary?) "roof" to shade the AC for increased efficiency? If only I saw this bfeore I shingled my dog's house...
On this one I don't think its a good idea for several reasons. if the objective is to re use then shred the polycarbonate and make sheets and use these for roofing again not going pass fire code . So then look at number of nails screws used to cover a square foot roofing. again way more nails perferating the underlayment. if you have ever had a leaking roof you want continous coverage. and then maintence you cant walk on these cd withot breaking them. Ok so i realize your taliking dog house or shed but recycling them into some building component should not be totally eliminated go further into breaking them down and reforming them into shingles or into a liner or look at how they make membrane roofing as solar panels. CD's should be properly disposed of you right the question is what is the best use its not roofing repeat its not roofing sorry (BAD IDEA)
Jayefuu (author)  rapidprototyping5 years ago
All fair comments and well thought out, thanks. Where I live (England) we have facilities to recycle loads of things but I couldn't find a local place to be able to drop off a load of CDs. I published this ible after having a lecture at uni from someone from Waste for Life, an organisation that seeks to reuse materials and come up with ideas that make it better/easier for those in less affluent countries.

I need to rewrite my last step soon with things I've learned about this and include comments from users. As the title says... it's just a concept. The CDs have been outside through frost and strong sun now and a few have had the foil delaminate but none are cracked yet. When I write up in the next few weeks I'll be sure to include your comments on maintainability and fire regulations compared to conventional roofing materials.

EggHead1015 years ago
Super idea.
I would try a little different idea though.
Instead of drilling holes. Use the center hole with those roofing nails that have a rounded plastic washer on them and the have ridges on the nail to help prevent "Creep" where the nail tends to come back out do to weather changes.
I would also an appropriate sealant on each washer. Now you have NO holes.
In windy conditions water defies gravity and will blow "up" and under...
Great job though. Lets have a hard boiled scrambled egg !! (yes you can - check my  egg )
TKDWILSON5 years ago
I used to go on scavengerhunts with friends for AOL CDs back in the day.  Had thousands of CDs.  Probably close to 10,000.  Threw them away after I got out of college.  Its a shame.  What a good use!  I figured at the time, AOL would always use that failing business model.  lol 
 I think its a good idea
shinylisa5 years ago
I wonder how this would be fire rated??
I think it looks great.
Jayefuu (author)  shinylisa5 years ago
Thanks :) Please vote.

 A possible con : I really don't know what sort of chemicals are used in the process of manufacturing cds, but using them in an outdoor way like this may leach chemicals into the environment. Just a thought.
Not at all a concern.  No chemicals will be released from the polycarbonate that CDs are made from.  It's the same material plastic water bottles are made of.  There is some controvery about whether or not low doses of Bisphenol A can leach out of polycarbonate food containers, and then get consumed, but it's such an extremely small amount, it's really only a potential health hazard for pregnant women who drink out of polycarbonate containers that have been cleaned with bleach (which catalyzes the release of the bisphenol A).  It wouldn't be an issue at all in something like roofing tiles.  In fact, tiles made of polycarbonate CDs will leach far fewer harmful chemicals into the environment than traditional modern asphalt/tar roofing materials, so that's another bonus to using them for this purpose.
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