Rain Barrel Installation
The supplies and methods listed here are for a basic, low-cost installation for a barrel set up. Your rain barrel stand needs to hold 425 pounds – the weight of a barrel full of water. Cement blocks work well. You can also build a stand from treated lumber if your barrel is on a paved area.
You will need:
8 cinderblocks (8" x 8" x 16")
1 downspout elbow the same size as the one on your downspout now.
6 small sheet-metal screws (preferably weather-resistant)
two or three 50-pound bags of gravel
1. Remove the elbow from the downspout where the rain barrel will be installed using a hacksaw. Cut off the downspout at about 4 feet from the ground. Attach the old elbow to your new elbow to form an S-shaped double-elbow.
2. If the rain barrel is to sit on the ground, level the area where it will sit. Add gravel to smooth and achieve a truly level surface, using a level to check. Left to right, your base area should be centered on the downspout. Typically, you'll want the gravel to be a few inches thick while ensuring that the gravel area be at least 3x3 feet.
3. Add cinder blocks so you can install your rain barrel on a raised base to get it high enough that you can slip a bucket or watering can under the drain. Arrange the first layer of four cinder blocks on the gravel to form a 2x2 ft base. Left to right, the base should be centered on the downspout. Front to back, the base should be an inch or two from the house wall.
4. Place your rain barrel on the blocks, so that the barrel is in the center of the base and the inlet hole in the top of the barrel is to the rear and center with the spout above. If the double-elbow doesn't stick out far enough to end up over the inlet opening, you may need to insert a short section of downspout between the elbows to get the exit further away from the wall. Leave a couple of inches between the bottom of the double-elbow and the inlet screen.!
Overflow: The overflow arm should direct water away from your house.
Freezing: Although we have never had a report of a broken barrel due to freezing, you should drain your barrels before winter hits and leave the drain open through cold weather to keep water from accumulating in the barrel.
You could also remove the rain barrel and put a piece of flexible drain hose on the double-elbow to guide water away from the house.
As debris from the downspout accumulates on the inlet screen, it should be cleaned off. The new improved screens have double layers to keep them from breaking.
If you have any rain barrel questions email at:
Want more barrels (or know someone who wants one)?
Call Sustainable Berea at (859) 985-1689.
Rain Barrel Painting
It is especially important to follow correct procedures to ensure that the Rain Barrels (RB) remain intact and in good condition. Quality craftsmanship is important to the overall integrity and success of the project.
Barrel handling and prep:
Stressing the fixtures (faucet or elbow) can cause their seals to leak. Please do not handle the barrels by fixtures, and when moving the barrels around, be careful not to kick the faucet or bump it against things.
The interior should not be painted. One way of keeping splatter out of the inside is to remove the screen, wrap it with a small piece of newspaper, and reinsert it. Be careful to push down on the screen frame, not the screen itself, so the screen does not pull away from the frame.
The fixtures should not be painted and must be protected from paint.
The barrel needs to be cleaned, sanded and primed before it is painted. You must be able to apply the primer immediately after sanding, as the surface will re-wax if left.
Barrel prep should take you about an hour. Detailed tips can be found below.
It is recommended that the paint is added in two to three light coats. You may want to consider this in your design. The less time you have to paint the simpler you may wish your design to be. Please leave at least 48 hours (longer is better) drying time before moving your barrel. This gives the paint time to cure.
Detailed Prep and Painting Tips
1. Label Removal --- For a paper label, spray it with water and let it soften, then take a scrubby sponge and scrub off all paper and adhesive. A plastic paint scraper is also helpful. Any adhesive you can feel but not see can be sanded off later.
For plastic labels --- Peel off with a plastic paint scraper. Citrusolve or a Goop type product may help for a particular difficulty label. If you have a barrel where the label has been partially burned, you may find there is a permanent “tattoo”. It may be impossible to get this off.
This can be sanded over then painted.
2. Wash barrel, top, bottom and sides with warm soapy water and dish detergent. Dry with soft cloth. With masking tape, tape off faucet and elbow. Add newspaper covering to screen (or figure out some other way to keep the paint from getting on the screen or going in the barrel.)
3. Turn the barrel upside down and sand with 220-grit sandpaper (bottom up). A light sanding is all that is needed to remove the barrel's waxy coat and give the primer something to bite. The paint then sticks to the primer. We are attempting to create a new “skin” of paint over the plastic barrel.
4. Wipe barrel down with either vinegar or an ammonia/water solution
5. Primer --- Do not brush out too thin. Work into all crevices, including stamped letters. Cover the entire surface. Let dry well. This will take longer than normal, as the surface is not absorbent. When dry, flip the barrel right side up, and sand the top lightly again and prime.
You must be able to put primer on immediately after sanding, as the surface will re-wax if left. It will be helpful to do each step in sections so you know the entire surface has been prepped.
6. When the primer is completely dry you may sketch your design and begin painting. Use a dull pencil, as a sharp pencil will scratch off the primer. The pencil marks do erase well.
It is recommended using two to three light coats of paint, to reduce the chances of the paint sagging then dripping. (This will happen after you walk away and then discover it after it is dry!) The thicker the paint the more likely it is to peel.
When your barrel is finished it highly recommends giving it at least 48 hours drying time before you move it, longer would be better. The paint needs a period of time to cure to reduce the possibility of damage to the paint job. The lower the temperature of your work area the longer the drying time.
Please feel free to use artist paintbrushes of your choice that meet the needs of your designs.
Follow the basic rules you would when painting a wall. Tape (mask), cut in and fill in. Do the background first and then detail.
Tape off lines with masking tape if using and complete one color at a time. You will need multiple light coats of paint---two, maybe three---to get complete coverage. Thick coats will tend to peel, so please use multiple thin coats. Once you have full coverage with the first color move on to the next. You may want to remove masking tape before the paint dries to prevent the tape from pulling off dry paint. If this happens you will need to re-prime.
Clean up misplaced paint right away with a damp soft lint-free cloth.
Waxed paper works well as a paint palette.