Adventures in painting a rain barrel!

Fern green painted rain barrel (Ryan picked out the color!)

Fern green painted rain barrel (Ryan picked out the color!)

One of the most recognized forms of water catchment / rainwater harvesting in popular culture today is the rain barrel.  Last year, I had a great experience making one during a workshop at Ozark Natural Foods.  This week, I was finally ready to paint it!  I didn’t realize spray painting a rain barrel would be so difficult…the instructions seemed easy enough: wipe the barrel down with water to clean it, inside and out.  Then use a kitchen scrubber with a half vinegar, half water solution to wipe the outside surface again.  Finally, spray paint the barrel any color you choose, making sure to protect clear or transparent barrels from potentially dangerous algae / bacteria growth by blocking out the sun’s rays with a full coat of paint.  But things didn’t quite go as expected!

This week’s Making Ripples column in the Free Weekly is about water independence to celebrate the 4th of July and our right to free water.  There are many ways to harvest rainwater, from rain barrels to cisterns.  A great resource is Brad Lancaster’s website, and his books: Rainwater Harvesting volumes 1 & 2.

My own experience with painting a rain barrel was pretty hilarious: the spray paint can leaked everywhere even after 1-2 minutes of vigorous shaking, and my gloves and the ground got fairly splattered with olive green paint!  It was also a new experience for me to hold the sprayer button down continuously, and I ended up with a sore forearm for a couple days afterwards.  I’ve never spray painted anything before (that I can remember anyway) so this recommendation may not be worth much, but I don’t recommend Krylon Fusion paint for plastics – the can leaked far too much and the drips were terrible, it didn’t spray on evenly.  I suspect my technique was off, but Ryan tried using it and the can didn’t work too well for him either.  Our ideal solution would have been an environmentally-friendly paint, but I couldn’t determine whether there was such a paint that worked well on plastics.  In the future, I’m going to do more research on spray paint alternatives that don’t have a zillion deadly chemicals in them!  This stuff was noxious.

I’ll be sure to report on anything I turn up as far as eco-friendly rain barrel paint, but in the meantime, check out this video on Rainwater Harvesting:

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