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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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