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Paint Can Projects

Create vases or lanterns using low-cost paint cans and your choice of paint colors.

Decorated paint cans.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

A few hours

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Drill and 1/4-in bit
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • 2 x 4 scrap wood
  • Awl or nail
  • Hammer
  • Painter’s tape


  • Gallon metal paint bucket, #60689
  • 2 - quart paint cans with lids, #27318
  • Red electrical tape, #19366
  • Blue electrical tape, #19367
  • White electrical tape, #19364
  • Valspar gloss spray paint: Blue, White, Ruby

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Project Resources


Combine materials, colors, and decorative techniques to make the three projects shown in the designs or sizes of your choice.

Ombré Painted Large Vase

Step 1

Spray-paint the entire bucket white and let dry.

Good to Know

Mask the inside of the bucket if you don’t want paint in there.

Step 2

Spray-paint the top red, feathering the edges where it meets the coat of white paint. Let dry.

Good to Know

For a feathered edge, angle the spray toward the top of the can, cover the top edge first, and work down the top third of the can. As a precaution, wear a disposable glove to protect the hand holding the can.

Step 3

Spray-paint the bottom blue, feathering the edges the same as with the red paint. Allow the paint to dry overnight before using.

Step 4

Ombré-pattern vase from a 1-gallon can.

Insert plants in containers small enough to be concealed within the bucket.

Good to Know

Paint cans will not be rust-resistant for continual outdoor use as a vase or as a planter.

Red, White, and Blue Striped Vase

Step 1

Wrap the can in layers of red, white, and blue tape.

Step 2

Red, white, and blue striped quart can vase.

Overlap multiple bands of tape to vary the width of bands of each color.

Star Candle Surround

Step 1

Download the Star Drilling Pattern, trim it to fit a quart can and tape in place.

Good to Know

To use a larger version of the same pattern on a gallon can, enlarge it 161 percent.

Step 2

On a scrap 2 x 4, cut a notch about 3/4 inch deep 4 inches from one end to use as a drilling support. Clamp the support to your work surface with the notched end overhanging the edge.

Step 3

Lay the can on the 2 x 4 with the rim inside the notch. At each marked location on the drilling guide, drill a 1/4-inch hole through the can and into the 2 x 4. Remove the pattern after the final hole.

Good to Know

To keep the bit from wandering out of position, start each hole using an awl or nail and hammer.

Step 4

Quart can lantern with holes in a star pattern

Spray-paint the can the color of your choice (Ruby shown). Let dry. Add an LED or votive candle.

Explore more creative ideas for decorating and entertaining:

Paint Can Party Favors

Paint Can Lights

Patriotic Decorations

Stars and Stripes Picnic Party