11 Crafty Uses for Empty Paint Cans

Lauren Murphy
Written by Lauren Murphy
Updated February 24, 2022
Father and daughter painting
Photo: DigitalVision / Getty Images

Once you finish your painting project, reuse the can to make budget-friendly decor

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Whether you’re giving your home a total makeover or tackling a simple redecorating project, you’re bound to go through a can or two of paint. Instead of disposing of those paint cans, reuse them to make functional decor pieces. Not only is repurposing your old items good for the environment, but it’s also great for your wallet. Check out these cute DIYs to get ideas for how to repurpose your empty paint cans.

1. Upcycled Paint Can Using Paint Chips 

Paint cans covered in paint chips
Photo: Pillar Box Blue

Cleaning out the garage? Don’t toss those empty paint cans! Collect some paint samples in fun colors from your local hardware store and glue them onto the cans for a unique decor piece. Claire from Pillar Box Blue used them to store their craft supplies.

2. Hanging Flower Holder

Paint can being used as flower holder
Photo: Knick of Time Vintage Farmhouse Living

Your old paint cans can have their time to shine with this stunning DIY hanging flower holder. This is a great craft if you have a paint can that isn’t too covered in paint drips. Angie from Knick of Time Vintage Farmhouse Living suggests using multi-colored flowers for a pop of color. You can keep a few paint cans out of the landfill and pretty up your home at the same time.

3. Birthday Party in a Can 

Birthday party in a paint can
Photo: The Crafting Chicks

Deciding on the perfect gift for your kids and their friends gets harder and harder each year. Follow The Crafting Chicks’ lead and gift them this unique DIY birthday gift—a party in a can! After you use up old paint in the can, clean it thoroughly and fill it with fun items, like candy and confetti. Then, go nuts on decorations. Everyone will have a blast!

4. Rock-Covered Planter

Rock covered paint can
Photo: Centsational Style

Grab an old, empty metal paint can and wrap it in river rocks to create a coastal-inspired, textured planter. Kate from Centsational Style recommends punching a few holes in the bottom with a hammer and a thick nail for drainage. You can also put this unique, rock-covered bucket to use in your bathroom or guest room to hold towels and toiletries.

5. Paint Can Ice Bucket

Paint can used as ice bucket
Photo: Hey, Let’s Make Stuff

Whether you’re hosting a bustling graduation party or having a few friends over for a low-key evening in, you need these DIY ice buckets. They’re great for keeping bottled and canned drinks cool while functioning as a stylish decor piece, meaning you won’t need to bust out the old, dirty camping cooler. This craft from Cori at Hey, Let’s Make Stuff takes less than 15 minutes to whip up.

6. DIY Tin Can Lantern

Paint can lantern
Photo: Mom Spark

According to Mom Spark, the key to punching your cans without denting them is to fill them with water and toss them in the freezer to harden. Once it’s completely frozen, use a hammer and nail to punch whatever designs you want. Thaw it, put a light inside, and hang it. These lanterns will surely spruce up your outdoor space.

7. DIY Toy Drums

Paint can toy drums
Photo: A Beautiful Mess

Reuse your old paint cans and make an affordable, but still adorable, DIY gift for the little ones on your list. Katie at A Beautiful Mess decorated hers with colored leather and decorative fabric. Make drumsticks with a cotton ball at the end to make these toys easier on your eardrums.

8. Painted Planter 

Paint can being used as a planter
Photo: The Crafted Sparrow

With a few bottles of craft paint, you can transform an empty paint can into a stylish planter, like these ones from The Crafted Sparrow. Use painter’s tape to make stripes or other solid patterns. Fill your DIY planter with plants and use it to decorate your home, inside or out. Or, use yours to start your very own container garden.

9. Valentine’s Day Tin

Paint can holding Valentines
Photo: Clean and Scentsible

As an adult, Valentine’s Day can feel a bit cheesy. But as a kid, it’s a whole different ball game. Elementary school classrooms often celebrate the holiday by encouraging students to hand out Valentines to each of their classmates. Make one of these cute tins a la Clean and Scentsible for your kiddo to hold all their Valentines this year.

10. DIY Paint Can Wall Lamp

Wall lamp made of paint can
Photo: Oh Oh Deco

If your bathroom is looking drab and you don’t have a budget to remodel it, make a DIY tin can wall lamp. Accents like these will instantly upgrade your bathroom for little to no cost. Amaryllis from Oh Oh Deco suggests using decorative paper to really make these pieces pop. 

11. Tin Can Desk Organizer

Tin cans being used as desk organizers
Photo: The How to Home

Follow this tutorial from The How to Home to turn a dingy old tin can into a cute and functional desk organizer. You can use all different types of cans, including paint cans and vegetable cans. Fill them with a variety of office supplies and place them atop a lazy susan so that they’re all easy to reach.

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