How To Make A Rain Barrel

List of Materials
Generally all but the barrel can be purchased at McLendon Hardware, Lowe's, or Home Depot.

The Barrel
The barrel should be food clean with a removable lid for cleaning and assembling. Barrels come in various sizes with the most common being 60 gallons. For a heavy duty plastic barrel like these, try Walt at Milton General Supply at (253) 922-0897 or me, Dan Borba at (253) 272-8173 or email at Something as thin as a Rubbermaid trash can might work but not quite as well. Some local hardware stores may occasionally carry good barrels.

The Spigot & Hardware
You'll need a ¾" hose bib spigot (½" will work too but with smaller locknut and washer). These have male threads at one end to screw into the barrel and at the other to attach a standard size hose. You'll also need a ¾" galvanized locknut (McLendon's has these), a rubber washer with a 1" inner diameter, Teflon tape, super-glue and silicone.

The Overflow Valve & Hardware
You'll need a ¾" brass overflow valve which, like the spigot, has male threads on either end with the outer end able to connect with the female end of a hose (plastic will work too). These are called "male hose MIP adapter ¾ x ¾ x ½" at Lowe's and #A-665 at Home Depot. You'll also need the locknut, rubber washer, Teflon tape, super glue, and silicone.

  • Electric Drill
  • 1" hole saw or drill bit (use 15/16" for very secure fit)
  • Utility knife
  • Needle nose pliers or wrench
  • Vegetable oil and cloth
  • Screw driver and ½" dozen screws (see #14)
  • Mesh-screen for top filter 

Making Your Very Own Catchment System (a.k.a. Rain Barrel)

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  1. Clean and rinse your food clean container with a mild soap and water (rainwater if you've got any yet)
  2. Drill a 1" hole with your hole saw or drill bit, just off the bottom of the container for the spigot assembly. I put mine as low as possible to maximise easy water use. It's designed to be used with a stand. I use four cinder blocks. Note: If you are unable to reach down to the inside bottom of the barrel, you might want to use a 15/16" bit and put the washer on the outside of the barrel.
  3. Drill a 1" hole an inch or so below the rim for your overflow valve assembly. This hole can go anywhere around the barrel at that latitude. Keep in mind: don't put it too close to the top (overflow) or too low (lose water storage). I recommend you put the hole an inch/inch ½" from the lid. Please note: if you've got a 2,000 square feet roof and those large down spouts, you may want to get a larger overflow valve.
  4. Use that 1" bit to drill a dozen or so holes in the lid. Rainwater will filter through mesh-screen then through holes into barrel.
  5. Take utility knife to clean scraps around holes.
  6. Wrap the barrel end of the spigot three times around with Teflon tape and then screw in the spigot squarely. It should go by hand.
  7. Take the rubber washer and glue the surface of one side with a strong glue and reach into the barrel and work it over the threads. Flush with the barrel.
  8. Screw on the locknut and finish tightening by turning the spigot while holding the locknut with a wrench or needle nose pliers. You may need a second person to turn while you hold or vice versa). Authors note: I love needle nose pliers!
  9. Wrap the longer end of the overflow valve with Teflon tape three times and then screw it into the overflow hole by hand or by using a wrench or pliers if necessary. The outside male threads should be able to connect with a standard size hose to divert the overflow.
  10. Repeat #7
  11. Screw on the locknut as far as possible by hand, then hold locknut while tightening overflow valve with pliers/wrench until it flies out of your hand or is very tight.
  12. Take a tube of all-purpose silicone "goop" and apply a bead where overflow valve meets the outside of the barrel. Note: I do this as an added sealant. It may not even be necessary.
  13. Take a tube of all-purpose silicone "goop" and apply where the spigot meets the barrel. Follow drying time directions from the silicone tube.
  14. Trace the outline of the lid on a mesh fibreglass screen and then cut it out. Screw on, if necessary, or just tighten ring around cap to secure. This screen is designed to keep mosquitoes out.
  15. Finally, take a rag and some cheap vegetable oil, and apply it to the scratched areas of the barrel. It really shines it up

Now, you're ready to install! Don't worry. If you make a hole for the spigot and overflow valve, you're most of the way there.

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Websites On How To Make A Rain Barrel:

Other Rain Barrel Sites:

A Good Place To Find Rain Barrels:
Kitsap Lumber-True Value Hardware
450 S National Ave
Bremerton, Washington State 98312
(360) 479-4414