CD/DVD Roofing Concept




Introduction: CD/DVD Roofing Concept

I needed a use for old CDs and DVDs. My friend runs a website selling media items ( 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

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

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

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?

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

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)

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    206 Discussions

    I guess I don't understand how this works... I've left CD's shiny side up on the dash of my car to come back to a really destroyed CD....I would think that this being out in the sun would turn out looking nightmarish after about a week in the sun. Does anyone have any pictures showing longevity?

    They're like fish scales...I like this!

    I was wondering if I could use CDs/DVDs to create a garden mosaic. I know it's somewhat different from what you've done here (which is great btw!), but I was wondering how resistant they are to the environment outside (frosts, etc).

    What about hail? I'd imagine the discs would crack apart as soon as a quarter-inch ball hits it.

    2 replies

    CDs are made of polycarbonate which has excellent impact resistance.

    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.

    1 reply

    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.

    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.

    The UV rays can break down the plastic in the cd's and warp them

    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!

    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.

    1 reply

    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.

    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?