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anyone know the lifetime of aluminum cans exposed to the elements? Answered

I'd like to use old aluminum food cans that were pressed flat instead of asphalt shingles for my roof. Does anyone know the lifetime of cans exposed to the elements in northern Ohio?


Over a year has passed since I mounted my aluminum can chicken coop shingles and there is absolutely no sign of corrosion, just a lot of dents from the golf ball sized hail last spring. Wind can be a problem with short fasteners; good fasteners will make the project last.

How are the aluminum can shingles working out for you? Besides the denting issue, have you observed any signs of oxidation on the shingles? What is the time frame?

I'm planning on using aluminum can shingles on roofing for a house i'm building.

Wow, you're taking the plunge on a house with this; that's great. Are you building a machine to mass produce these or is it going to be all hand cut?
It's been five years now and the aluminum my coop still looks the same; it is in Kansas. The only deterioration has been the staples holding the shingles which have corroded somewhat; probably due to the electrolysis from the different metal types. A heavier and longer staple like the ones in pneumatic guns might be better.

I have 4 questions, 1// has anybody tried to use aluminum can (not tin, aluminum beer can, soda etc) for an exterior cladding, and 2// what type of "staples", "nail", "attachement" did they use? 3// If we protect the aluminum skin with transparent coating - what might be a good product to use? For example, painting over the entire aluminum surface? I noticed that beer and soda cans have a very thin coating on the inside, they flake off when you open the can up. 4// Some people have used Heineken beer cans (quart size) to use as a pot for cooking for camping use, would this coating affect the food if it flakes off? I think a flatten alum can roof for shingle would definitely look smashing! Cant wait to see such a finish. If you did do some samples, please put up some pictures? Thanks

If you take an old coke can and scrape off all the paint and leave it alone it will rust and degrade pretty quickly. I recycle aluminum so I work with it all the time.

So, which one are you saying rusts?
Are old coke cans made of steel? (Compared to new soda cans which are made from aluminum.)


 if you scrape the paint off of the new ones they will start to rust

This could be bunk, but there was an advert showing 'not to throw away soda cans' because they take 50000 years to decompose. The inside is protected with varnish and the outside paint. Aluminum doesn't readily oxidize once the outer layer forms a protective coat. BUT Food is shipped in tin cans - primarily steel. It DOES rust and degrade quickly if left unprotected.

Steel is not a kind of tin. Tin does not rust.

tin as a name - not as a descriptive part of what is in it - of course tin does not rust. 'it came in a tin can' - just the cans changed, but they never changed the name. Do you still call your mobile a cell? Cellular networks were outdated by cdma and gsm. (and now 3g ++ etc etc). Just a name.

I don't know about 50000 years, i read an article some where about decomposition times of various items that said aluminum cans can take anywhere from 200-500 years to fully decompose when left to the elements, as for using food cans you need to be careful, some the top and bottom are tin-coated steel (tinplate) and the rest of the can is aluminum, but some are also entirely tinplate. However you are more likely to get the ones made entirely out of aluminum as the can is stamped out of one sheet of aluminum


9 years ago

I would say that its very dependent on the 'elements' its exposed to. A can at the bottom of a lake can last decades and remain in good condition. This is how I usually find pull-tab beer cans. However cans left in swamps degrade much quicker, I assume to the high Tannic acid content in the water, They get thin can full of pin holes. Full unopened cans (at least Pepsi) will eventually eat though when protected from the elements. They become freckled as the Carmel slowly oozes through. Takes about 6 years, and not all cans in the same pack behave the same way. That's just my experience.

Probably quite a while, if they don't get physically damaged or corrode.

Corrosion-wise, don't let them come into direct contact with any other metal. Galvanized steel flashing around the chimney, copper roof cap, cast iron weather vane, lightning rod made out of (whatever it is that lightning rods are made out of) - all will create electrochemical conditions that will corrode the aluminum very rapidly. Even aluminum siding could cause a problem.

If you must have some other on the roof, you can get around the problem by putting some non-conductive block or gasket (rubber, wood, ceramic, etc.) between the aluminum and the other metal and making sure it stays in place.

Oh, and, whatever you do, don't use steel screws to fasten the aluminum shingles down - that's the recipe for "Instant Corrosion, Just Add Water."

By the sounds of it, these cans are cheaper than shingles and I think depending on the manufacturer. singles may carry a 30 year warranty. Once aluminum gets a coating of oxidization on the outside I think it would be good for a long time. couldn't hurt to throw some tremclad or something on it also??

I'd thought about this sort of thing, but problems occur to me: Being very light the shingles would be vulnerable to wind damage. This makes me think they'd need a lot of fixing, which means tacs or glue and the whole thing starts looking like less of a good idea in bad weather. Anyway, I reckon the cans would last as long as the asphalt shingles. L

I must say that sounds like an awesome idea. if it works you should post something on here you know, let everyone know about it if you can. but defiantly keep us posted