How to Construct Rain Barrels


In an age of increasing water shortages, gardeners often find themselves with the tough decision of using precious water resources or allowing their gardens to perish. But there's a solution: when one inch of rain falls on a house with 50- by 30-foot dimensions, 900 gallons of water run off the roof. Building a rain barrel--a relatively simple DIY project--allows gardeners to capture and store some of that water for use in times of drought.

Downspout Modification

Step 1

Remove the old downspout from your house.

Step 2

Place the cinder blocks where you would like the rain barrel to sit. Set the barrel on the blocks and measure the height--the amount you will have to cut from the downspout.

Step 3

Use a hacksaw to cut the downspout short enough that water will flow from it into the rain barrel. You may want to add a curved downspout attachment that will place the end of the downspout more precisely over the center of the barrel.

Step 4

Replace the downspout on your house.

Preparing the Barrel

Step 1

Cut a hole in the top of the barrel, at least three inches per side.

Step 2

Fit a piece of screen fabric over the hole. The screen keeps leaves and twigs out of your rain barrel and prevents mosquitoes from setting their larvae in the standing water inside.

Step 3

Cut a 3/4-inch hole near the bottom of the barrel, but not so far down that you cannot reach it through the hole you cut in the top. You will need to reach it from inside the barrel when you install the spigot.

Installing the Spigot

Step 1

Apply Teflon tape to the 1/2-inch bushing and thread it into the outdoor faucet.

Step 2

Thread the other end of the bushing into the hole you cut at the bottom of the barrel. The bushing should fit snugly and carve threads into the plastic as you turn it.

Step 3

Remove the bushing from the barrel. Wrap the bushing with Teflon tape and seal the connection between the bushing and the faucet with silicone sealer.

Step 4

Screw the bushing back into the hole at the bottom of the barrel and add a 1/2-inch socket inside of the barrel.

Step 5

Set the barrel on the cinder blocks that you set into place and position the downspout so that water flows into the hole in the top of the barrel.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid using clear or translucent containers. Algae thrives in water with a high exposure to sunlight, and can clog your hose when you go to use your water.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 cinder blocks
  • 55-gallon plastic barrel
  • Hacksaw
  • Screen fabric, at least 1 foot per side
  • Power drill with 3/4-inch spade bit
  • Roll of Teflon tape
  • 1/2-inch threaded bushing
  • Outdoor faucet
  • Silicone sealer
  • 1/2-inch female threaded socket


  • "Grit"; A Better Way to Harvest Rainwater; Cheryl Long; March/April 2010
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: How Can I Make a Rain Barrel?
  • Southwest Florida Water Management District: Recycle the Rain
Keywords: diy rain barrel, making rain barrel, building rain barrel, installing rain barrel, constructing rain barrel

About this Author

First published in 2000, Dawn Walls-Thumma has served as an editor for Bartleby and Antithesis Common literary magazines. Her work has been published academically and in creative journals. Walls-Thumma writes about education, gardening, and sustainable living. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and writing from University of Maryland, and is a graduate student in education at American Public University.