Introduction: DIY Rain Barrel - Sized for an Apartment

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A simple step by step guide by @chriselsasser.

** Before starting you can check your local rain-water collection regulations at

Step 1: Materials & Tools List

All of the items you will need for the project. I’ll always recommend supporting your local hardware store, I bought what I could for supplies locally but did go to Home Depot for the 2 most important pieces here (the Rubbermade ‘Roughneck’ 10 Gallon bin & the Bulkhead Union Washer). This entire setup can be completed for approximately $30-35 depending on what supplies you may already have.

*Bulkhead Union washer (this one is made by WATTS item no. HPL-1871) = $12

*Threaded PVC male end with plug stop = $4 (found in the same plumbing aisle as the Bulkhead Union washer

*Plumbers tape = $1.50

*RubberMade roughneck bin w/top = $8 (10gallon, they also have an 18 gallon option, located in the gardening section)

*Window Screen/Mesh ~ $6 (any fine mesh will do, this is to keep bugs and debris out)

*Gorilla tape / Duct tape ~$5, to secure the screen to the underside

*1 3/4" hole saw bit. You’ll need a drill, ½” drill bit and a 1 ¼” circular drill bit (if you choose this exact Bulkhead Union). NOTE: there are kits on amazon that come with the parts necessary for a rain bin, many of them are threaded to a size unique to that company - meaning you then need to order a whole new drill bit size which is not available in most stores. The items I’m using are in standard sized threading / bit sizes.

Step 2: Drill the Main Hole for the Spout, and Prep PVC

Drill out the 1 ¼ hole (or whatever sized Bulkhead Union you have purchased), be sure to make this as clean as possible

Next coat the threading well in Plumbers tape, this is not an adhesive tape but it will stick with a little tension, you’ll want a minimum of 3 layers leading up to where the washer meets the body of the pipe.

Step 3: Attach Your Bulkhead Union Pieces

Be sure the rubber washer (that black piece) is attached before threading into the bin, then slowly screw the PVC into the drilled hole, as tightly as you can make it.

Once the outer piece is secured, add the interior rubber washer, and the larger threaded washer. Tighten against the bin as tightly as you can.

Step 4: Add Your Spout & Stop-plug

Here I added a small ¾ inch threaded male PVC pipe, with a very simple stop-plug.

Step 5: Drill Your Drainage Holes in the Bin Top

Next drill out your rain holes in the bin top, I made two 3/4 inch holes on each diagonal, and one ½ in the center - no specific science behind that, I just wanted a few areas to intake rain in case one got plugged by debris.

Step 6: Cut Out Your Screen, and Attach It to the Under Side of the Bin Top

On the under side of the Bin top, cut out a small piece of your screen (large enough that it extends past the holes you drilled) and begin to tape the mesh into place. I used Gorilla tape because it was the strongest I could find, put two inverted roll pieces between the plastic bin and the mesh, and then just simply tape the mesh into place taking care to seal all sides. I cut out a few sections of the mesh so the tape would be holding it tightly and prevent any dipping of the mesh screen.

Step 7: Close It Up, and Test It Out!

finished product with mesh in place (it’s under there, i promise)

Step 8: Place Your Bin on a Raised Surface, and Let Gravity Do the Rest

Some final images of the bin in use. It holds 10 gallons, but depending on the size of your space you could go with their 18-gallon option and follow these same exact steps.

Thanks for looking!

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