How to Build With Reused Plastic Bottles
Reusing plastic bottles to build things is a great way to recycle materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Here is an in-depth guide on how to build with reused plastic bottles:
Selecting Bottles to Use
The first step is gathering used plastic bottles to build with. Plastic water, soda, and juice bottles are all great options.
- Look for bottles that are made from PET or PETE plastic, which is recyclable (you can check the bottom of the bottle for a #1 recycling symbol).
- Avoid bottles made from PP or PVC plastic as these are more difficult to work with.
- Collect bottles in various sizes – larger bottles are good for walls and smaller ones can be used for details.
- Make sure bottles are thoroughly cleaned before using them.
Tools and Supplies Needed
To build structures from plastic bottles you will need:
- A hot glue gun and glue sticks for connecting bottles.
- Scissors or box cutters to cut bottles if needed.
- Sandpaper to smooth cut bottle edges.
- Wood boards and screws to build the frame.
- Nails, zip ties, or duct tape to attach bottles to the frame.
- Staple gun and staples can also attach bottles.
- Acrylic paint and brushes for painting bottles.
- Polyurethane to seal and protect finished structures.
Planning the Structure
Before starting construction, plan out what you want to build and how bottles will be arranged:
- Sketch designs and bottle placement.
- Measure dimensions to determine how many bottles are needed.
- Pick a level spot with space to work.
- Decide on a frame shape – simple squares or rectangles are easiest.
- Will the structure be freestanding or attached to a wall?
Building the Frame
The frame provides an anchor for attaching the plastic bottles. Use sturdy wood boards screwed together to build a frame:
- Cut boards to the desired length for the frame shape.
- Predrill holes for screws to prevent splitting wood.
- Screw boards together using corner braces for extra support if needed.
- Make sure the frame is level and square.
- Leave a small gap between boards – bottles will protrude slightly.
- Attach the frame securely to a wall stud if not freestanding.
Attaching Bottles to the Frame
Now the plastic bottle “bricks” can be attached to the frame:
- Work in rows, starting at the bottom attaching bottles next to each other.
- Alternate bottle sizes and colors in rows for visual interest.
- Use hot glue, zip ties, or duct tape to attach bottles – nails or staples can also be used.
- Fill in gaps between bottles with pieces of cut bottles.
- Add each row on top of the last, overlapping seams for stability.
- Construct multiple connected frames for larger structures.
- Leave spaces for windows and doors if desired.
To complete your plastic bottle structure:
- Paint bottles with acrylic paints if desired.
- Seal the finished structure with polyurethane for weather protection.
- Add decorations – mirrors, lights, mosaics made from bottle caps or pieces.
- Make furniture like benches, tables, or shelves to accompany the structure.
With a little planning and effort, you can build all kinds of creative structures by upcycling used plastic bottles – walls, playhouses, greenhouses, privacy fences, and more. It’s a fun project for DIY enthusiasts while also keeping plastic waste out of landfills.