Asked on Sep 13, 2014

What should I do with this rusty bucket?

I love rusty junk. So when I saw this bucket at a yard sale I liked it too much to pass it up. The question now is, what do I do with it? My only thought is to turn it into a planter. What do you suggest?
  65 answers
  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Sep 13, 2014
    I think it's pretty cool! It looks fairly large in the pictures. You could use it for storage, an umbrella holder. You could probably find one of those plastic liners like you can use for plants to protect anything you put in it or even a small wastebasket to line it. It would also make a terrific vignette with other items you collected. I thought of old wood spindles as soon as I saw it. Have fun!
  • Debbie Debbie on Sep 13, 2014
    Hi Kelly ! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your bucket ! One idea would be to roll up colorful bath towels and put them down in the bucket vertically. Another suggestion, if the bucket is tall enough, would be to put a round plexiglass top on it to use as a small table. Enjoy your awesome bucket ! :)
  • I turn most of my finds into planters. I just love groupings of galvanized or old buckets! I also place some of my buckets on flat rocks too.
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  • Carole Carole on Sep 13, 2014
    How about this idea? Lay the bucket on its side in the garden beds. Have the side with the writing on it showing uppermost. Grow some ground cover colourful plant in a sort of pool that looks like it is coming out of it - like a bucket of spilt milk or something. White flowers with silver foliage looks really good for this effect. You could erect a sign that says " no use crying over spilt milk" to finish it off. White stones or gravel would also work or you could go with silver succulents.
  • Angela M Angela M on Sep 14, 2014
    I want this bucket lol How about cleaning inside just a good wash and use it inside for storage such as crisp white rolled up towels etc .you could put a liner in it so rust etc would get in it or old kitchen tools could add things at the bottom to give height and put just all kind of goodies :)
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Sep 14, 2014
    I love it too! Great find! Weight it down with a layer of rocks in the bottom. Then make a round disk with holes drilled in it and insert it down into the bucket about 2"...then set it beside a beautiful table or chair and use it as an umbrella stand in your foyer! Or make the same wooden disk with holes drilled in it and fill it with sticks on the front porch. Tie black cats and orange pumpkin cutouts on it for halloween; red bows and ornaments for Christmas; cover it in yellow, green and purple Mardi Gras beads, etc.
  • Sheryll S Sheryll S on Sep 14, 2014
    Oh the perfect pot for a bunch of Mother In Law Tongues. Yep....... that is what I would do and have done.
  • Pat Farnworth Pat Farnworth on Sep 14, 2014
    Cement with peat or soil / sand mixed in with it. Roughen the surface and then plaster the mix all over the outside of the bucket. Leave to dry. Make some holes in the bottom ans plant whatever rocks your boat. It will last you for years. We did a pot sink years ago and it's still looking like a very expensive pot x
  • Rosemary Kelly Rosemary Kelly on Sep 14, 2014
    I LOVE IT! Great Planter!
  • Cecelia Cecelia on Sep 14, 2014
    After cleaning, you could use indoors to store wood if u have a fireplace, top it and make it a stool, use it as a base for a rustic Christmas tree, a holder for umbrellas in a mud room, to hold faux pumpkins in a harvest decoration
  • Cecilia - Just what I would have done! Great ideas!!
  • Mike Mike on Sep 14, 2014
    I'D do planter, palm or bamboo would look great.
  • MaeGatineau MaeGatineau on Sep 14, 2014
    Could be painted and used to keep drinks cook outside with ice in it
  • Julie Julie on Sep 14, 2014
    I would recommend NOT painting it. I think it is an antique, right? I would get a liner for it and put a nice big plant in it or for Fall do a display of pumpkins and indian corn and gourds etc. You could also put firewood in it and put by fireplace if you have one. I wish I had one of those buckets, they are very cool. Whatever you do don't paint it!!
  • Jennifer Jennifer on Sep 14, 2014
    Well, I like the planter and towel idea's. But depending on how big it is and if you don't like it's current look you can also clean it up, maybe sand down a little some of the rougher spots and paint it. You could even apply some thing over the paint. French logos, pictures, whatever strikes your fancy. It would make a good compost bucket to keep in the kitchen while cooking. The handles will make it easy to transport the contents when needed.
  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Sep 14, 2014
    I love the look as it would look like any bucket without the exterior as it is. If you have a fire place how about using it for the fire place tools? Or on your porch as a umbrella stand? If you use it as a planter you would have to put in drainage holes and they would soon rest it is if you keep it outside without painting and sealing it, it would rust away fast. I love it as it is..what a conversation piece.
  • Pam Pam on Sep 14, 2014
    I can't really tell the size, but if large enough it would make a great base for a side table...with either a circle of glass or wooden.
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Sep 14, 2014
    The base for a water feature. There are several on here. Or a tumbling planter using different sizes. I would love to add that one to my collection for my water feature and tumbling planter. What a score.
  • LindaChaney2 LindaChaney2 on Sep 14, 2014
    Waste paper basket. Wash it up, perhaps oil the surface with olive oil? Or put on a coat of clear lacquer? But would make a neat kitchen waste bin.
  • Myrna Engle Myrna Engle on Sep 14, 2014
    Checking buckets history; It says 'Protect your Kaite'. Kaite is short for Catherine. Numbers not found yet.
  • Glenna Kennedy Glenna Kennedy on Sep 14, 2014
    Whenever I find an old galvanized pail, pot etc I paint it!See below....these are sap pails. I painted Xmas scenes on them, I put white birch and Xmas balls in them with tiny white lights. They are beautiful!
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  • Ann Ann on Sep 14, 2014
    To hold wood for your fireplace, of you have one?
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Sep 14, 2014
    Definitely a planter.
  • Phyllis Phyllis on Sep 14, 2014
    send it to me! lovely old bucket. can't wait to see what you do with it! just have fun
  • Comet Comet on Sep 14, 2014
    DONT PAINT IT!!!! The charm of this IS the old stenciled German and English wording and numbers!!!! This was prob used on a ship---rarely do you see "Stow away from boilers" on anything that was NOT on board a ship---but I wonder what WAS in there--that you had to keep from HEAT and COLD!!!! I can't see the German writing very well but try Google Translate to find out what was in there. I would not touch it ! Use for a container or as some mentioned--put a glass or wood top on it. Very cool industrial artifact. If you don't like any of these ideas--send it to ME! PS Country Living has a feature where you can ask what your item is--maybe send them a pic!
  • Lynn Lynn on Sep 14, 2014
    A light fixture, add an Edison bulb, it will look great, especially on a patio
  • Alison Alison Alison Alison on Sep 14, 2014
    Definitely keep as it is and use anything natural in it to brighten its features.Absolutely no point buying something unique and changing its character and history.It will be a good research project and point of interest for you.Ordinary production line ornamental buckets are just that.Keep the history or find a ships museum and donate it to them.
  • Cathy C Cathy C on Sep 14, 2014
    Don't paint it... it's sooo cool the way it is and why cover it's history. I'd use it for an ice bucket and put my favorite beverages in it... will make an interesting conversation piece for when you have company.
  • Meburke Meburke on Sep 14, 2014
    Plant 1 or 2 Fall ornamental Kale,several Fall mums,a millet( dark blk like a corn stalk) a few stems sunflowers( silk) WOW, & a black faux crow in the stalk of millet ...good to go! I'll pay S/H to Illinois & a $$$ too... Love that bucket. I'd place my "bucket lists" of things yet to do in life.
  • April Riggs April Riggs on Sep 14, 2014
    I have seen where they have made buckets into a stool.
  • Nancy Rambow Nancy Rambow on Sep 15, 2014
    What about seasonal things? Mums for fall, Mini Christmas tree, plant some daffodils now or wait and get pansy in the spring and summer can give you many choices - small grasses, coral bells, green vines, impatiens, daisies. Looks like I need to head to Rural King to find a bucket. They are about $3.00. I am getting tired of the same old thing every summer on my porch. I was thinking of stenciling my house numbers on the bucket.
  • Cecelia Cecelia on Sep 15, 2014
    One more idea, make a side table. Add legs and a glass top
  • Carole Alden Carole Alden on Sep 15, 2014
    Rolled up towels in the bathroom, lost socks in the laundry.
  • Melissa Leach Melissa Leach on Sep 15, 2014
    Uses for this bucket are endless! Don't paint the seasonal planter idea!
  • Marion Dunn Marion Dunn on Sep 15, 2014
    I would use it as a planter but insert a planter inside so no further damage to the bucket. Very unique bucket--great find!
  • Jeanne Focht Jeanne Focht on Sep 15, 2014
    you should give it to me LOL it is very cool as is! i agree with marion, use as a planter but protect it by inserting another container inside. great bucket!
  • GR GR on Sep 15, 2014
    It's not often I say this but painting would be a shame as it has so much character, but then as a lover of rusty junk I'm sure you wouldn't want to! Although it would make a great planter I would use it for kindling (if you have a fire) or even a waste paper bin so I could display it indoors. It's a thing of beauty and no mistake :-)
  • Adrienne Sajecki Adrienne Sajecki on Sep 15, 2014
    It would make a great base for a light, put a plexiglass top, long pipe for as tall as you want with bulb and shade, gives you a little table too! Only thing is you would have to make a small hole in it for the light cord. But PLEASE DO NOT PAINT IT!
  • Adrienne Sajecki Adrienne Sajecki on Sep 15, 2014
    I bing translated and it said protect kettle
  • Dale324 Dale324 on Sep 15, 2014
    it could be used as a umbrella stand just the way it is
  • Lee woods Lee woods on Sep 16, 2014
    Make a fire pit!!!!
  • Crystal Crystal on Sep 17, 2014
    It is super cool. Turn it into a shade over your dining table. All you have to do is drill a hole in the bucket, remove the handle and buy a lamp kit!
  • So many great ideas! Thanks everyone! I definitely don't plan on painting it. I love its rustic/authentic look as is. Need to do some research on this piece. Stay tuned for the outcome :-)
  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Sep 18, 2014
    I don't know if the bucket could take a fire..maybe for the ashes from the fire place...
  • COONIE COONIE on Sep 18, 2014
    Don't paint it. I painted my buffet. Dang, I'm so mad with myself. I've been stripping and sanding, I didn't realize the VALUE of BEAUTIFUL WOOD/RUST til too late. Not everything requires paint. Some just needs protection from getting any further damage. Oops see above, you already said no way your painting it. I like the idea's and love the LAMP suggestion the best.
  • Sharon Witherite Sharon Witherite on Sep 18, 2014
    I collected several old buckets and watering cans . I hung them on a post in my flower bed on wooden pegs
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Sep 19, 2014
    Would spray with a clear poly and use it in the den to hold mags. Or place by door, fill with sand and an old metal scoop to sprinkle icy spots on your walk in winter.
  • Mark C Perrine Mark C Perrine on Sep 19, 2014
    give it to the JUNK MAN
  • Starr Durrant Starr Durrant on Sep 24, 2014
    It's a great piece - would make a cool bird house maybe if you get a bit creative or would be good to hold kindling by the fire pit if you like it as it is
  • Sharon Richardson Sharon Richardson on Sep 27, 2014
    Scrub it up with soap & water. Use it to hold magazines in the bathroom. That's what I did with mine!
  • Judy Steffen Judy Steffen on Nov 06, 2014
    Use the beautiful rustic bucket on the front porch for Xmas decor -- fill with clear lights, logs and greenery -- you can see this idea on Pinterest.
  • David Shelley David Shelley on Jan 18, 2015
    I like the whole Wabi Sabi aesthetic and this would work well with that. Depends on your aesthetic. If you did paint it, I would go for a rustic metal look. I like the waste paper bin concept or if done right could be used for kitchen utensils with the right treatment or insert - wooden spoons, spatulas, etc... Umbrella stand by the door in some cases. In a bathroom with rolled towels - not sure the sizing. A bathroom waste bucket if you paint a clear treatment over it or possibly without. Outside with a terracotta pot inside of it and a plant growing. Again, may want to treat it with a clear coating though for weather if you don't want it to really rust further. To me it begs to be near some rustic wood - a rustic wood bench or a rustic wood cabinet, shelves, etc... Would contrast nicely.
  • Bonniev Bonniev on Feb 25, 2015
    I have been looking for one to cut out a round piece of wood for the top and make a seat for it. Use batting and a neat fabric. Tea Dyed if you want.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 03, 2023

    Add drainage holes and plant it up with flowers, or make holes and use as a brazier, or store water in it and grow a reed or water plant etc. Clean it up and paint it and line it and use for indoor storage of Toys etc. Leave as is and use for Logs etc.

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 12, 2023

    10 Creative Ways to Repurpose Galvanized Buckets

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 13, 2023

    Planter everytime! Maybe for a tree?

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 13, 2023

    Great invasive plant planter. You know for those pesky plants that like to take over an area. For Oregon that would be bamboo, virginia creeper, english ivy, wisteria and a few others. Just keeping their roots contained would help.

  • Chris Black Chris Black on Jul 04, 2023

    It would make a beautiful solar water fountain/bird bath!


    • Use a sturdy, shallow plastic plant saucer that’s an inch wider than the bucket.

    • With either a small soldering iron, drill, or a nail & hammer, puncture a hole in the center of the saucer, as well as smaller holes around the center of the saucer.

    • Place the water pump with the connected tubing inside the bucket.

    • Bring the tubing up, and through the center hole of the plastic saucer.

    • Make sure the center hole isn’t too large so the tubing fits tightly inside it.

    • Leave about 1” of extra tubing sticking out of the saucer and cut the rest off.

    • You may need to apply a waterproof sealant around the center hole and tubing to prevent it from moving or slipping down.

    • Next, add enough water to the bucket where your water pump is. So that your pump is underwater.

    • Remove the plastic film from the solar panel, and place the panel in full Sun. Inspect the water level in the saucer.

    • Make sure it’s draining down into the base as fast as it’s filling up the saucer—otherwise it’ll spill over. ;)

    You can even add some rocks to the saucer without obstructing the drain holes.

    If it’s rusted inside, you can always try removing the rust with white vinegar, sand paper or a steel brush, and re-painting the inside with a zinc-rich paint to re-galvanize it.

  • Plant a small Christmas tree in it, use it as a cooler during a summer BBQ, place flowers in it for a centerpiece, make a fountain out of it.

  • Deb K Deb K on Aug 08, 2023

    Hi Kelly, I would leave it as is and use it as rustic decor in my yard!

  • You could clean and seal the inside and then use it for storage - tp or rolled-up towels.

  • Betsy Betsy on Feb 26, 2024

    Sounds like a plan! However, I'd put the plant into something before putting it into the bucket. It's gorgeous!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Feb 27, 2024

    I'm thinking a foot stool, put a cushion on the top.

  • Janice Janice on May 04, 2024

    It would make a cute indoor or outdoor planter or even a small trash container.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 05, 2024

    Yep if it is right size! or Use to burn rubbish. Or to hold water!