From dirty dog food tins to slimy soup cans, these metallic containers can magically transform from waste bin clutter to Instagram-worthy gorgeousness with a touch of TLC. Here are our favourite upcycling ideas to turn even the most grubby old tins into handy household items.
When getting started with upcycling your tin cans, try to pick cans with no rust, although just a little can be easily fixed up before painting (for more, check out our guide to removing rust stains). To prep your can, use washing-up liquid and warm water to clean it, removing any labels, stains and oil. Now your tins are ready to go, here’s some inspiration…
1. Transform empty tin cans into pretty hanging planters
One of our favourite upcycling ideas for tin cans has to be the hanging planter. Choose a tin big enough to hold your plant, fill it with water and freeze it (this will make it easier to punch holes into). When it’s frozen, use a hammer and finishing nail to make two holes in the tin - at the same distance from the top and opposite each other. This will hold your hanger.
Next, apply an all-purpose spray paint to the outside of your tin. You can’t beat funky neon colours for brightening up your garden or yard. Once the paint has dried, feed a piece of wire or twine through one of the holes and make a knot to secure it from the inside, repeating at the other side. Then add your plant and proudly display, watching the neighbours admire with envy.
2. Upcycle tin cans into cute candle holders
Another great use for tin cans is to upcycle them into luminaries - like a carved pumpkin, candlelight will beautifully illuminate the patterns. Again, begin by adding water to your can and freezing it. Then with a marker pen, sketch a pattern (such as a flower shape) onto the outside. Using a finishing nail, hammer your pattern into the tin. Once done and the ice has melted, wipe off the marker pen and add your candle. Hey presto - enjoy the glow!
3. Turn your empty tin can into a table centrepiece
Upcycled tin cans make pretty table decor. Simply wrap some hessian or sisal rope around your tin and secure using hot glue, adding a few little embellishments such as buttons and charms to beautify. You could also simply paint it and add a few flower sprigs too. Upcycled tin cans make lovely, homely table centrepieces for a family celebration.
4. Upcycling tins into handy utensil holders
Perfect for keeping all your kitchen utensils in order, add a little brightness to your kitchen by upcycling your tin cans into handy utensil holders. Simply add a spray of paint to the outside of the can. Then paint the bottom of the can with clear nail polish to ensure it doesn’t leave rust marks on your counter if it gets wet.
Top tip: use a selection of different sized tins to make a matching utensil holder set.
5. Goodbye shabby old tin cans, hello chic hanging wall storage
Tight for space in your kitchen with heavily cluttered counters? No sweat, hanging wall storage to the rescue. For this simple tin upcycling hack, choose a large tin and drill a hole through the side, wide enough to fit a hook through. Then hang the can on a wall-mounted utensil rail. (For more savvy space-saving tips, read our guide to keeping your kitchen clean and tidy.)
6. From pile of empty tin cans to decorative DIY wine rack
If you’re partial to vino but your kitchen is a tight squeeze, collect your old tin cans and make a DIY wine rack. Using a tin opener take off the bottom of each tin, filing over rough edges using a steel file or heavy grit sandpaper to avoid cuts. Then spray them inside and out with paint (dark inside, light outside). Glue the cans together a horizontal row, and secure with clothes pegs while they dry out. Then add a second and a third row of tins, as needed.
7. Make your old tin cans into the perfect plant home
Using a hammer and finishing nail, add some drainage holes in the bottom of each can - use a large drill bit if you prefer one large hole. Then spray paint the outside and bottom of the can and let it dry. Add a few stones to the bottom for drainage, throw in your compost and hey presto, your pretty plant has a happy new home.
So next time you’re cooking, consider keeping that can instead of chucking it!
Originally published 11 September 2019