We’re going to show you this amazingly easy, I dare say genius…inexpensive yet totally effective DIY garbage chute today. Or a trash chute made with concrete forms and our favorite item in the universe, nylon zip ties. In other words, this is a post filled with trash talk.
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If you’re here, you may be an avid DIY’er like we are here. And if you’ve ever done a big renovation project at home then you know that renovating means TRASH will be involved in the process.
For years, if we were working on a second story space, as we demolished, we’d be hauling scrap and debris down the stairs in contractor bags. That meant a lot of dust through the whole house, and worse than that, very sore quads. As our quads got sorer and sorer from all the remodeling we’ve done in our current home (head here for the whole home tour), we decided that we needed to start working smarter, not harder. In other words, we wanted to be as lazy as possible while still achieving our DIY goals. And that is how this DIY garbage chute / trash chute was born.
Full disclosure, my Dad is actually the one who is mostly responsible for this brainchild.
- 16″ or 18″ diameter concrete form tubes (Sakrete is the brand we used. Also note, we found the 18″ diameter tubes to cost significantly more than the 16″ tubes, which is why we used the 16″ variety, and it still got the job done very well)
- Nylon cable ties
- Large trash bin (with wheels is best)
- Extension ladder
- Utility knife
- Contractor bags
- Bungee cords
- Tape measure
1. Determine how many feet of concrete form tubes you’ll need.
Two options here: brains or braun.
- Brains: Pull that Pythagorean theorem out of your back pocket and teach your kids how that 5th grade math really is important because here’s a real life example of where it can be used. Then hide from them so they don’t see you struggling to remember how to do a²+b²=c². Then, if that method doesn’t work out so well, go for option #2.
- Braun: Pull out your extension ladder and lean it up to the house at the level of your window sill. Then measure from the window down to the top of the trash can (which will be sitting at the bottom of the chute). For us, that measurement was about 12’. Plan for the stationary part of your chute to stop short of the trash can by about 2′ of length. You’ll see why in step ……. Therefore, the overall length of our chute will be 10′ ……………..We are going to leave the chute about 2’ short of the top of the trash can for our ingenious “chute removal system”, that you will see later in the post. So our overall chute length is 10’.
2. Drill tubes.
You can purchase these concrete form tubes in different diameters and lengths. For this application, the larger the diameter, the better. Although you can buy these in 18″ diameters, the price difference between the 18″ and the 16″ was pretty big, so we opted for the 16″ diameter tubes. Quick note on the diameter. Although they are advertised as 14″ or 16″ etc. diameters, this measurement is NOT exact. They come nested together 3 at a time (probably to save space in the store and make shipping easier), with one tube inside the other.
The concrete form tubes are typically available in 4’ lengths. For our garbage chute, we used a total of four 4’ concrete form tubes.
Lay the tubes out on the ground. The smallest diameter tube will be the one that sits at the TOP of your garbage chute (closest to the window sill). We will call this “tube 1”. The next largest tube will be tube 2, and so on.
Slide tube 1 into tube 1, overlapping the tubes by about 4” (we marked off a 4″ line in the 3 spots we wanted to drill). Use a 3/8” drill bit to drill 3 holes equally spaced around the tubes as they lie overlapped. Drill through both tubes (the image below is a bit misleading as you can see we do NOT have the tubes overlapped, but it is quicker to do it with the tubes overlapped).
3. Connect concrete form tubes with nylon zip ties.
With the three sets of holes now drilled, slide the tubes apart and thread the nylon ties through the holes. Cinch the ties together. Tube 1 and Tube 2 are now connected.
4. Continue drilling + connecting each length of your concrete form tubes.
You’ll now head to the opposite end of tube 2, and repeat the process of marking, drilling, and connecting tube 2 and 3 with the nylon zip ties. Repeat this process with the remaining lengths of concrete form tubes you’ll be using for your trash chute.
We labeled all the drilled sets of holes just in case we wanted to disassemble the trash chute, then reassemble it at some point down the road. Definitely not a requirement, but keep it in mind if you think you may need to re-use your tube for a future project.
5. Cut to length, if needed.
We only needed about 10’ in length, so we cut tube 3 to shorten our overall garbage chute length. You’ll want to do the same if necessary. We’d recommend just using a jig saw. The tubes are made out of cardboard and cut very easily.
6. Lie garbage chute on extension ladder and connect with bungee cording.
Lay your extension ladder on the ground. Place your assembled trash chute on top of the ladder. Using bungee cords, attach the garbage chute to your ladder. We used 3 bungees, one for each section of tube. But you may need more depending on your set up. It’s important that the trash chute be attached really well so that when you start pushing debris through the chute, it won’t detach from the ladder!
7. Hoist ladder and trash chute into place.
All hands on deck! This contraption will be awkward and heavy. Make sure you are cautious, and get the help you need. You don’t want to start your project with an accident. Hoist the ladder into position so that the top of your garbage chute sits right below the window, and the bottom of your chute should be just above the opening of your trash can.
Truly, you could start using your chute at this point, if you didn’t feel like constructing the terminal section we’ll talk about next. Simply lean your trash can up against the ladder, make sure to put a heavy item under the tipped can to brace it/hold it in it’s leaning position and then you’re ready to start your demolition project.
8. Construct Telescoping Garbage Can Removal System (don’t worry…sounds fancy, but it’s simple).
Simple and SUPER helpful! We knew that the garbage chute would work best, and we’d minimize debris landing outside the garbage can at the bottom of the chute if the chute actually sat inside the can. So we rigged up a telescoping portion of the chute at the bottom.
This terminal section moves up into the end of the chute whenever you want to remove and empty the trash can at the bottom! Plus, it lends some stability to the trash can as it’s leaning against the ladder catching debris (it’s also a good idea to prop the bottom of the can with something heavy like a cinderblock, just to be on the safe side).
Cut a 4’ piece of tube length wise from end to end, again using a jig saw. Now make another cut from end to end about 8” away from the first cut (so that you’re left with an incomplete circle…you’ll have more like a “u” shaped section of tubing as seen below.
Use a 3/8” drill bit and drill 2 holes on either side of the lowest tube of your garbage chute, about 24” up from the bottom. Drill another 2 holes in a similar location on the cut tube. Next, connect this section to the bottom of your chute.
**Note: before you take our word on the exact size of the drill bit, make sure the “nub” portion of the zip tie will fit through whatever size hole you drill…if the hole you drill is too small, then the telescoping won’t work well because the chute will get hung up on those thick ends of your zip ties.
We’ll again be connecting this section with cable ties. But this time, we will need a looooonng cable tie we can make by connecting a number of them together end to end. You’ll want about 36″ of length overall, and you’ll need two of these, one for each side of the tube.
Thread the two long sections of cable tie through the holes you drilled, one at a time. Cinch the cable ties only so tight so that the cut tube rests about 4” inside the end of the bottom tube connected to the ladder. The slack left in the cable ties will allow you to slide this section up into the tube above it, allowing you to easily remove your trash can when it’s full, and replace it again to collect more.
Couple last minute thoughts and tips:
1. Because the trash tube is made out of cardboard, you don’t want to let it get wet. So we wrapped a tarp around it and secured the tarp with bungees, that way when it rains or snows, it won’t ruin your trash chute.
2. Why is a trash can with wheels important? Construction debris is heavy! You don’t want to break your back. It will be easier to wheel it where it needs to go and tip it over rather than having to lift it to empty it!
3. Contractor bags come in very handy. Just stuff one in your trash can, and fill those up. When it’s full, tie the top and tip the trash can wherever you’re emptying it. If you’ve got a big demolition on your hands, you may want to consider renting a dumpster, or grabbing a Bagster (which are great btw).
4. If you’ve never taken on a demolition project, we wrote a post about the most important tools you’ll want on hand for the project. Check it out here.
Now go! Get cracking! Put that new garbage chute to work!
Demolition is one of the most fun parts of a DIY project/renovation. It’s cathartic to hit stuff sometimes, isn’t it?
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