Introduction: Make Shingles and Siding Out of Aluminum Cans (Beer Can Roof)

Picture of Make Shingles and Siding Out of Aluminum Cans (Beer Can Roof)
I haven't tested this long term but it seems to work on my chicken coop. Here's the rundown:
Using scissors or tin snips cut the ends off an aluminum soda/beer can and cut down the middle of the can to make a flat rectangular piece of aluminum. Then you lay the flat piece into the forming die and press it by stomping on it or hitting it with a hammer. In this Instructable I'll show how to make the die and then lay out the shingles on a roof.

Making these can be tedious but the end result is gratifying because the old cans are fulfilling an immediate second life. A 24"x24" roof area will use from 36 to 50 cans (excluding drip edge and caps) depending on the vertical spacing and shingle style; that comes to 900-1250 cans per roof square (10'x10'.)
Start drinking now if you plan to try this.

I've recently posted how to build the whole coop at

Loads of uncrushed aluminum cans
Piece of 1x6 hardwood board
Two 1-foot 5/16" metal square rods

Staple gun
Circular Saw, or Router, or Saw with Dado Blade
Tin Snips or Scissors
Drill and bits

Step 1: Prep Cans

Picture of Prep Cans

Obtain your raw resources at a local party, drinking buddy, or community service highway clean-up. My neighbor is my steady supplier of uncrushed cans. I find beer cans are best because they don't have a sticky residue like soda cans.
This gets sharp, so wearing gloves is important. Use scissors or tin snips to cut the top off the can at the seam where the can bends. Cut down the center to the bottom and then cut off the bottom of the can. You should now have a rectangular piece of aluminum sheet metal. To ease the workload, precut these over time as you get the cans. One of the pics below shows the beginning of a can cutting machine; I hope it works because my hands are tired.

Step 2: Mark and Cut a Die

Picture of Mark and Cut a Die

Use a pencil and square to mark the 1x6 board to the measurements in the picture. This should be hardwood so it holds up to the abuse; If you have the resources you could have this machined in metal for durability.
Using a circular saw I cut the receiving die (negative?) grooves as shown below.

Step 3: Attach Square Rods to the Die

Picture of Attach Square Rods to the Die

Drill holes in each end of the two 5/16" square rods and screw them to the upper board so they are lined up with the channels on the negative die . These rods come in 1' lengths at my local hardware store.

Step 4: Clean and Add Hinge

Picture of Clean and Add Hinge

Clean up the cuts with a chisel and hammer.
Add a small hinge or just staple a can (see picture) as a hinge to keep the die halves lined up.

Step 5: Insert Pre-Cut Aluminum and Smash It.

Picture of Insert Pre-Cut Aluminum and Smash It.

Insert Aluminum and Smash It With Your Foot. There are two types of shingles made here by placing them in one or the other can slots on the die. The shingle with the two ribs will give the strongest cover by providing two layers of aluminum from the overlap. The shingle with the two ribs and a lip will cover more area but gives only one layer of aluminum.

Step 6: Start Roofing With the Drip Edge.

Picture of Start Roofing With the Drip Edge.

Once you have a few small bundles of shingles, take them, your tin snips, some extra unpressed aluminum rectangles and a staple gun to the roof. In my example, I have a tiny chicken coop roof which measures only 24"x24" on one side.
Loosely fold the Aluminum rectangles in half and staple them overlapping on the bottom and side edges of the roof. On the side edges, make a small 90 bend for the shingles to hook onto; see the picture. Make sure the overlap is correct on the side drip edges.

Step 7: Attach Shingles

Picture of Attach Shingles

If you were doing this on a big roof where you had to walk around, avoid stepping on the shingles by working from one end of the roof up to the caps and then across. When attaching, staple the shingles about 1/3 of the way down from the top; I used two staples per shingle.

Step 8: Cap the Top

Picture of Cap the Top

Fold a lip lengthwise on some more aluminum rectangles so they have a round exposed edge and staple + overlap them across the ridge. The last cap piece will need caulking on the staples unless you try some tricky folding.

When I posted this Instructable, the roof was in operation for a month with a few spring rain storms. It had no leaks!!!!!!?? Crazy; I wonder how long it'll last.

03 Feb 2009- No major problems so far except for a bad hail storm; it has been about a year out in the weather. I had a few loose staples on the ridge cap last month. See the one-year pictures below. The dent damage seen in the photos was from a golf ball size hail storm late last spring that ruined every roof in town.


SilverC4 (author)2017-10-11

here in Oregon that would be a very expensive roof at 10 cents per can.

pheenix42 (author)2017-08-17

I seriously wish the building code would allow me to do something similar to my house! Or, make the shingles from aluminum flashing material.

logic_con (author)2017-08-08

I love this. I happen to live in one of those places where beer cans are more available than proper construction materials. (New Orleans) I'm going to try this

Pan (author)2016-11-26

I don't know about where you guys live, but where I live, no one cares if you dumpster dive at the local Walmart where the recycle bins are to reuse the materials. I have gotten boxes to use the card board. I cover the inside of my chicken barn during the winter to cut down the airflow. I get metal from the dump for projects, and chairs to paint for my yard. That would be a perfect place to score some "free" cans for your projects. It would save the city some of the gas and man-hours to carry one of the dumpsters to the dump. Happy project working!

Wragie (author)2016-10-13

I deleted my post about corrosion as it was wrong/misleading. Not sure what I was thinking when I posted it but it was really off. The replies to that post are spot on correct. My apologies to the OP and other posters.

./shame mode ON

Pure alum or a 1xxx series does corrode instantly but only on the surface. This surface layer then stops any further corrosion. Other grades of alum do the same but at different speeds. Some like 6061 are considered corrosion resistant which is why 6xxx series is used in salt water and fresh water boats and all sorts of places.

Alum does suffer from a few forms of destructive corrosion and these either look like bubbles under the surface or a white powder. The nice thing about the instructable is replacing any bad shingles is soooooo cheap. Lol. If you don't experience any of these destructive corrosions you should get many years out of a pop can roof!

Years later I still think this is a great instructable!

Nate Cougill (author)2013-03-27

So, a bit late to the party, but I think aluminum beer cans have a corrosion resistant coating which makes this even more enticing.

When solid aluminum oxidizes in contact with oxygen, it forms a stable coating of aluminum oxide which prevents the remaining aluminum solid from being exposed to oxygen. That's why aluminum doesn't rust. It coats itself with rust-proof aluminum oxide.

No aluminum can't rust because rust is Iron oxide. Aluminum form's it's own type of oxide too but oxidation it is not a protection because it is corrosion and will corrode through sooner or later.

Stephaileen (author)2016-08-02

I LOVE this! Thanks so much. I definitely can recruit some friends to help me out with "materials" for this project!

Talking my husband into the idea might be another story! But hey,'s FREE basically, and the water runoff aspect is awesome too. I am so excited to even think about this.

Thank you smart man!!!! :-)

Chicken whisperer (author)2016-06-18

Thank you for this. I read a bunch of comments and I have to say that this will be perfect for my chicken tractor. It needs to be as light as a tarp since it is pvc and chicken wire.

JuliaK31 (author)2016-03-31

DIY-Guy Do you think that coating this type of roof with the Silver Coat (waterproofing material) that is used on Manufactured Home metal roofs would work to make it last longer?

JuliaK31 (author)2016-03-31

DIY-Guy Do you think that coating this type of roof with the Silver Coat (waterproofing material) that is used on Manufactured Home metal roofs would work to make it last longer?

67spyder (author)2010-02-21

I hate to be a "negative nelly" but you said 900 cans to cover 100 square feet (10X10), Where I live (maybe not where you live) beer and pop cans have a 5cent deposit which means that 900 cans will give you $45 which will easily buy 3 bundles of shingles which will coincidentally cover 100 square feet with much less work.  Otherwise a great idea

DIY-Guy (author)67spyder2016-03-10

I've looked at the asphalt "three tab" roofing and watched it weather away over the years. Aluminum would seem to last longer as long as chlorine is not applied to it. Does anyone know for sure if there is a lifetime limit before thin aluminum degrades into becoming porous and useless?

wrenawild (author)67spyder2010-05-16

Anyone can get plenty of free, empty cans. You wouldn't have to spend a dime. If you can't figure out how to collect some for free, you probably shouldn't be building a roof.

Jimmy.Cochrane (author)wrenawild2014-11-27

sorry wrenawild, but i think you misunderstood 67spyder in the point that you can sell cans to recycling centres for 5c a can, rather than buy them for the same price, as they´re most definitely available free practically everywhere in the world. hope this helps.

DIY-Guy (author)Jimmy.Cochrane2015-12-24

5 cents a can would be a dream price for places that do not pay a reward, er, deposit price. The deposit price is artificially high. Aluminum is less than $1 per pound usually, depending on the economic cycle and commodities prices, price of energy, etc. No everyone lives in California or other places with deposit refunds.

KatherineL17 (author)DIY-Guy2016-03-08

It is not a reward. We pay the deposit when we buy the drink. We simply get that deposit back when we recycle the can.

DIY-Guy (author)KatherineL172016-03-09

Hmm, let me see... I corrected myself on the "reward" comment and stated three times the word "deposit."
and again, "deposit."
Thanks for reminding me about the need for being clear. I got a good laugh from that comment. :)
Have a great day!

In case, you missed it- I said "HAVE A GREAT DAY!"

KatherineL17 (author)DIY-Guy2016-03-09

Excuse me. I was merely making a comment. My screen did not show your whole comment (and it did not have a place to open it further.) Thank you for being so presumptive that you think I'm a dim wit. Sorry to ruin your day with common sense. I have 4 Ph.D.s - one in structural engineering and am always looking for new, clean ways of construction. PS Glad I could make you laugh.

DIY-Guy (author)KatherineL172016-03-10

I was laughing at myself mostly, but you're right. Your screen did not show the rest of either of my comments. Sorry you're stuck with limited ... software.
Again I wish you- "Have a great day!"

DIY-Guy (author)67spyder2010-04-08

Hmm, my neighbors would object to me "making money" off the deposit refund, but would be proud to contribute to a dog house or a shed that "beer built!" Some states have draconian tax and identification requirements which deny some people the right of refund. Maybe the beer-u-crats on the state payroll think the homeless are getting rich from cleaning up trash? That was the idea after all, was it not? Reduce the litter by making it valuable?

One or two layers of non-degrading aluminum will withstand the UV for decade after decade. My asphalt and mineral surface shingles always need replacing before their projected lifespan is up. Metal is more permanent.

Besides, this is all about re-purposing and DIY.  :) 
Good method, good results, good for RobbToberfest!

SuzyM1 (author)DIY-Guy2015-12-24

DIY-Guy --Deposit refund, litter? Are you kidding? You can always take the cans to a recycle center. Some states, like California actually have separate bins for recyclable materials that are picked up at your curb.

DIY-Guy (author)SuzyM12015-12-24

No SuzyM1 I was not kidding, and am not kidding with my statements about some people getting angry if you cash in on their trash, and in some places it's almost impossible to get any money for the recycled scrap metal. In California you need government issued ID, fill out forms, etc. In other places the state requires ID and registration for tax purposes, even if they pay the per pound scrap price. The logic given is that "maybe you are a thief cashing in on metal at scrap prices." I've watched the intent of the eco-do-gooders get hijacked and sidetracked over the decades of my life. (Yes, go ahead and call me old if you want to.) Not every place has the rose-colored glasses version of recycling. In some places the beer cans are worth more as roofing material because they cannot be sold for a profit. In those areas, empty beers are cheaper than roofing.

Thus ends my serious comments. Hopefully this has broadened your knowledge of different parts of the country, or the world. It's sometimes a shock to find out that other places do things differently than what we're used to.

In a lighter tone, the following remark is made in jest only-
"Would it help if I typed slower? " :)

SuzyM1 (author)DIY-Guy2015-12-24

DIY-Guy --Deposit refund, litter? Are you kidding? You can always take the cans to a recycle center. Some states, like California actually have separate bins for recyclable materials that are picked up at your curb.

67spyder (author)DIY-Guy2010-04-10

Don't get me wrong this is a fantastic idea.  Also I have been thinking a lot about the refund issue.  Although it motivates the uninitiated to be environmental it does discourage re-use which is better than recycling.  In a state where there is no deposit there are usually easier facilities for recycling the aluminum based on weight which you can still do after you cut the top and bottom off (the heaviest parts) once you cut up a can it is no longer eligible for the refund.  Mabe the bounty should be placed on the can top?? (RobbToberfest, Sorry about hijacking your excellent instructable with a political discussion)

robbtoberfest (author)67spyder2010-04-12

 I'm lovin the discussion.

robbtoberfest (author)67spyder2010-02-21

 I would definitely go your route; but in Kansas here we're like a decade or two behind in recycling and incentive things like that.

SuzyM1 (author)robbtoberfest2015-12-24

Even Kansas has recycling centers where you can take lots of metal not just cans. Old fridges, stoves, air conditioners, etc.

We live in a really small town but there is a recycling center and at least 3 large "junkyards".

masscody (author)67spyder2014-08-03

You do serve a valuable point but aluminum cans are the better pick if your planing on having a rain water harvesting roof and also its a more environmentally friendly way of going about it.

cyrademacher (author)2015-12-28


thewritingmommy (author)2014-04-08

My husband drinks about 72 Diet Dr Peppers a week. (No, that isn't a typo, and yes, I've nagged him about the health risks). I think this might be a great way to reuse all those cans that he promises to recycle but that end up in the garbage. About half get into the recycling but this would be something better to do with them I think. Thanks for sharing.

rdemunck (author)thewritingmommy2015-05-03

HA! If your husband is too lazy to put the cans into the recycling bin instead of the garbage, then I think he's probably too lazy to cut them up and make shingles out of them instead. :)

thewritingmommy (author)rdemunck2015-05-03

my husband in NOT lazy at all, in fact, he gets so busy that he forgets where he left the last project, and his dr pepper cans. :)

SuzyM1 (author)thewritingmommy2015-12-24

Are you sure your hubby is not my hubby? They sound exactly alike. Maybe they are brothers, Brothers of the Order of Dr. Pepper! B.O.D. : )

SuzyM1 (author)thewritingmommy2015-12-24

I think my hubby can beat your hubby with 84+ Dr. Peppers per week ! LOL

More in the summer. This is a great idea. Maybe he will use them for the roof of the dog's house or the shed since some things got wet this year. : )

(Yes, I know this is an old post.)

kevespo (author)2015-12-01

lol freakin genius! redneck engineering. I never thought of this.

GraceR6 (author)2015-11-30

I'm a little bit confused on how to make the die... Could you maybe make a video?

JesaKillah (author)2015-11-22

This is awesome! I'm going to try this for my chicken coop and my kids tree house! Thanks!!

robbtoberfest (author)JesaKillah2015-11-22

Thanks for the compliment, I'd love to see pictures if it works for you.

vicesat (author)2015-10-03

How is going at today?

robbtoberfest (author)vicesat2015-10-15

I sold it. Sorry no status update on the condition.

MelissaC11 (author)2015-06-07

So hey everyone I have read back over all your comments. My question is I live in Hawaii and I would love to shingle my tiny home instead of the typical big old bulky metal roof. Plus reuse and be Eco friendly with my home. So can I use these as a roofing substitute in a area where it's half rain half sunny. I do have a rain catchment system but as I am understand bathe bands give them self a protective later from rust. So my water would not have those in it right? If anyone would let me know any advice want to do a whole 24x24 home.

Bignicsauto (author)2015-01-01

Ok Love the idea but if you are this industrious lets go full bore and just build a forge to melt the cans then pour whatever shape we need am i right

sknorr (author)2014-12-20

Does anyone know if anyone has tried using this for there home?

kagu632418 (author)2014-02-08

Way to labor intensive ....

Green_Primus (author)2013-09-23

Any chance you could electroplate these? Using say pennies or bare copper wire? I like the idea of these but, love the idea if an oxidized copper roof just as much!

That's an awesome idea! I think the issue is getting the plastic coating off the aluminum somehow; maybe heat them to burn it off.

MWebster68 (author)2013-07-17

I'm not sure about all states but, where I live only carbonated beverages have a deposit on the can. You could still do this project with cans from juice, tea or other non-carbonated beverages to avoid the extra cost. I guess you could set up a neighborhood can collection so you wouldn't have to drink so much tea or juice (or just raid the curbside recycling bins before the truck gets there, haha). I love this project! Great job!

nixiadel (author)MWebster682013-09-22

Not all States have a can and bottle deposit. Personally I'm not driving 4 hrs to get a 5 cent can or bottle deposit on my empties. This seams like a good way to use something that I GIVE to the recycling plant in my big blue bin every two weeks.

About This Instructable




Bio: Dad and hubby, good food enthusiast, solar energy, boating, making stuff, melting stuff, and raising chickens.
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