Instructables

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

Featured
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 Diylife.com

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

Tools:
Staple gun
Circular Saw, or Router, or Saw with Dado Blade
Tin Snips or Scissors
Square
Chisel
Hammer
Drill and bits
Gloves
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Prep Cans

Picture of Prep Cans
sheetbundle.jpg
cutmachine.jpg
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.
1-40 of 216Next »
Wragie1 year ago
A lot of good instructibles really don't have any real world use, this does!

Pure alum corrodes literally instantly when exposed to oxygen and will shortly turn to powder. There are some mixes such as the 6000 series they use for believing ocean going boats as it doesn't corrode. If whatever was in there is acidic like tomato juice or oj its going to be corrosion resistant. If you can find galvinized steel tins thats another long term shingle in the making.

So has anyone figured out how many beer you have to drink to reshingle a roof? :-)
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.

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.

kagu6324185 months ago

Way to labor intensive ....

Green_Primus10 months ago
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!
robbtoberfest (author)  Green_Primus10 months ago
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.
MWebster681 year ago
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!
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.
art_mogul3 years ago
I have worked with a man who has used flattened beer cans for roofing and siding on a couple of shed-like structures here in Huntsville Texas (70 mi north of Houston). The problem he ran into is that strong UV exposure breaks down the integrity of modern aluminum cans much more quickly than aluminum specifically manufactured for this application. Someone else has eluded to this as speculation in a comment below and I can confirm that this is true. That said even in South Texas the cans will comfortably hold up for 5 yrs or so. Wind can also be a problem in areas with strong UV exposure since the cans begin to flake apart when they break down. The older galvanized steel used in beer cans that are found in vintage beer can house construction hold up many magnitudes better. He has experimented with a number of materials, including plastics and the limiting factor is UV as opposed to other types of oxidation. This is a cool idea for small projects in less sunny places though. I have found that I can buy excess aluminum roofing scraps from a local scrap recycler which could be used as shingles. I hadn't thought of making a shaper. This is being discussed here http://www.phoenixcommotion.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5 if anyone would like to chime in.
robbtoberfest (author)  art_mogul1 year ago
It's been over four years now, and they show no signs of wear. Just a few dents from hail damage.
Thanks for the update. How are they holding up five years in?

Also, has anyone tried this in an area with significant snowfall? I live in Canada where if the snow melts slowly on the roof, then freezes overnight it backs up under the bottom lip of shingles and curls them up.
robbtoberfest (author)  LScrimmy10 months ago
I left this structure at my old house which I sold. Next time I'm back there (maybe October) I plan to peek in on the condition and let you know.
As far as the shingle heaving goes; that may be an insulation issue. It may be better with these slippery shingles since the ice isn't grabbing and pushing up as it refreezes in the evening.
Okay, I'm a believer! I'll be roofing and sheathing my chicken coop in beer cans. I'll post the results.
I really, really doubt it''s UV. It's some sort of corrosion, particular if there's any salt in the air (there's always some salt), or other chemicals, some of which will be produced naturally by the atmosphere (particularly when it's sunny!)
I live in Australia where the sun would be a huge issue. Is there not a UV protective paint on the market that could protect the roof longer?
robbtoberfest (author)  jofuji3 years ago
Three years strong and it still looks fine without paint. Unless you live on the coast where salt can cause problems, I wouldn't worry about it.
I know I'm late to the discussion, but something I noticed in the video you posted is that you put the cans on with the label down. This probably has contributed to the longevity you've experienced. The lacquer inside of a pop/beer can is quite strong (it has to resist the acidity in cola, which is quite strong!). The side with the label isn't afforded such protection, as the ink used to label the cans doesn't require the same resistance.
would painting them after applying them help to block some of the UV?
robbtoberfest (author)  ThorsMitersaw2 years ago
These shingle don't look any different (except for the hail damage) than from the day I attached them on the roof. I think they are reflecting back most of the UV and painting them would only add unnecessary maintenance and absorb UV.
shawnt1 year ago
I used aluminum printer plates for my chicken coop. Simply attached them with silicon adhesive. Even after the walls of the coop started rotting away (OSB did not last very long) the top aluminum cover was still working fine. I am not sure how available these plates are now.
foobear1 year ago
the only thing that scares me is the super bloody razor sharp edges you get when cutting up cans. If there were some easy way to roll the exposed edge and crimp it, that would be good.
dxanith1 year ago
It's too bad the video listed here was marked private:(
rwarrich1 year ago
Nice idea, though like some, tar paper under would be a good plan. also, if you stapled/nailed at the halfway point of the can/shingle, you should be able to go through the top of the row below giving more strength to the fastening. with only one fastening point I would be worried about the wind 'peeling' them off.
park471 year ago
Thanks..It's inspiring..:)
Another great recovered-re purposed material DIY project, kudos and thanks for sharing such !
meritsetgo1 year ago
great instructable, and might try with the steel coffee cans instead just because that is what i have available...mine come already "paintedblue with the coffee logo and what not on the facing side so that should provide an extra layer of protection even if it fades fast in a few months....

salt corrosion on thin and sheet aluminum is fairly nasty, a friend of mine who lives by the coast, replaces his window air conditioner unit every year and a half because the thin aluminum fins in the radiator just turn to dust,

Seeing the gauge of the cans are thinner or similar to the thickness used on radiator units, this might pose a problem long term but hey year and a half is plenty time to keep making replacement shingles!!!\

kudos for making an awesome instructable that is truly applicable in most parts of the world....
lafnbear1 year ago
"Start drinking now if you plan to try this."

Just about the only Instructable where this sentence is acceptable...
danava00561 year ago
I'm building a tiny house on a couple acre lot in a remote location and trying to do it with as much reclaimed/found materials as possible. The roof had me stumped until I found your awesome plans. I am definately doing this. Would you sell me a die? I don't have the tools to make that and run all my lights, etc off a small solar system so I don't think a table saw would work. I'll start picking up cans while I wait for your reply :). Thanks.
batonas1 year ago
Nice recycle man. RESPECT!
CJSudduth2 years ago
How about using coffee can lids...or cans of any kind... ??
robbtoberfest (author)  CJSudduth2 years ago
They are thicker metal and may be hard to form with this system.
Maybe with a press and stronger die. Good luck with it.
brynda5 years ago
does anybody know how to make a coke can baseball cap out of coke cans? i would like to make one for myself. i love coca cole memorabilia, and would love to know any other ideas.
Indeed, it can be made by recyling the coke can through heating process. also known as Electrolysis, in which the well heated coke can melt at above 194 to 212 degree temperature.(boiling point). then set up a customized moulder, engraved with any sign/logo to cast with. while the cans already melt into liquid form. run to cast. and then become solidify again as it feel the air. this process has been used to produce many valuable material. domestically and industrial. let me know if you will like to get more update and tutorial practice analysis regarding this electrolysis.chloir -alkali chemical process. I can be of good help to you. then email me at (alberto200031@yahoo.com) or forward your email/site link. so that I can link you up with my online tutorial coaching blog. Regard. Alberto
The tins are opened flat as per our shingle idea, then each one is cut to the same pattern as the panels at the original cap design. A small leather punch is used to perforate the edges of each side of the now 'sorta' triangular can pieces about 5mm apart. Using a 'crochet' stitch, the cap is sewn together with wool...I will try to get a picture to show the finished product!
tulekah brynda4 years ago
dummy it with card stock untill you have the dims correct
catboo22 brynda4 years ago
me too i collect coke stuff , i have a red banana seat lowrider bike with a coke sticker on de side and 13 glass coke bottles
robbtoberfest (author)  brynda5 years ago
That sounds like something that takes real artistic still..... uuuummm not in my backyard. LOL
karen6082 years ago
I have an older screen door that is rusty and metal peeling up, and this made me realize that since it is on the north side of the house, I can redo it with opened up, flattened out aluminum cans, for SURE. Thanks for posting your roof, recycling at it's best.
Audreyvgs4 years ago
I did this a couple of years ago, the logos fade fast, but that look was the "shabby type look I was going for. I wrapped the edges first, used staples, will look into the Monel type, don't know what that is. It's too hard, tho with a manual can opener. You'd give yourself carpal tunnel by the 100th one. I want a machine to cut the top and bottom off, leaving me the clean middle. Anybody know of one of these? My roof is still great on my bird cage after all this time outside.
1-40 of 216Next »
Pro

Get More Out of Instructables

Already have an Account?

close

PDF Downloads
As a Pro member, you will gain access to download any Instructable in the PDF format. You also have the ability to customize your PDF download.

Upgrade to Pro today!