Outdoor Patio Lighting Using Tin Cans

Updated December 23, 2022
Outdoor Patio Lighting Using Tin Cans
Outdoor Patio Lighting Using Tin Cans
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Patio lighting is essential to have during those summer nights when you're chatting with friends or having family game night. Light up the dark night sky by creating Outdoor Patio Lighting Using Tin Cans. This rustic lighting fixture will look exquisite hanging from a pergola or other wooden fixture. Rather than throwing out your coffee tins and soup cans, recycle those bad boys for this DIY lighting fixture idea. Thanks to this patio lighting, you're able to spend the entire night outdoors doing the activities you love.

Estimated Cost$21-$30

Time to CompleteWeekend project

MaterialsRecycled Materials

Primary TechniqueHome Decor



Project TypeMake a Project

Materials List

  • Gallon sized tin cans 
  • Outdoor rated pendant lighting kits
  • 3/8″ Bushings
  • Drill
  • Exterior rated Romex wiring
  • Exterior rated light switch
  • Exterior rated junction box
  • Plumb bob
  • Wiring staples
  • Eye hooks


  1. Determine arrangement of lights: These lights can be easily hung from a pergola or another hung wooden fixture. Gather your tin cans and lay them out in a pattern you like.

  2. Preparing/wiring the cans: Mark the center of the can, then drill a small pilot hole using a 1/16" drill bit. Next, use a larger drill bit to make a hole large enough to fit the pendant light cord through (3/8"). Install a bushing once you have a hole to keep the cord from rubbing on the sharp edge of the hole you just made.

  3. Installing pendant lights: First, cut the plug portion(s) of the pendant light cord kit off. This will allow you to route the cord through the hole you just made. Feed the cut portion of the wire into the can and pull the wire until the pendant light is up inside the can.

  4. Wiring: As part of this process, you will need some basic wiring tools such as linesman pliers, a screwdriver and circuit tester. First, you'll need to pull the power from your basement (or other area). Tap into an existing circuit in the basement and route the outdoor rated wiring from the basement to under the deck. REMEMBER TO TURN THE POWER OFF FIRST. Then, install an outdoor rated switch and weatherproof box to turn the lights on and off. Don't forget to use staples to hold the wire to the post.

  5. Route the wiring: Route the wiring from the switch to a single junction box. You can place this in between two pieces of framing from your pergola or other structure. This box will hold all the pendant light cords from each of the lights. Choose a location where you know all your pendant light cords will reach.

  6. Hang your DIY lights: Hang your lights using a ladder and place them in the location/design you like. Use a plumb bob to line up the center of your pergola/structure with the light. Install an eye hook to hold the light and drill a hole into the pergola (or if you need to install a 2x4" piece of wood to hold the lights, drill into that) and route the cord up through the hole to help hide it.

What's your favorite outdoor summer activity to do at night?

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This is a really fun and kitschy idea! One question though - can you still play the telephone game through them? P

Such a clever idea! I never would have thought to use tin cans for lighting, but it is definitely worth a try.

What a great idea. I love all kinds of outdoor lighting, but I've never seen a project quite like this before!


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