Every tire on every car, truck, bus — and even bike — you see on the road will have to be replaced one day. It’s a fact. Thankfully, those hefty rings of rubber make some great crafting materials when it’s time to upgrade tires for safety reasons.

Why is it so important to repurpose tires? According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, the U.S. generated almost 250 million scrap tires in 2017.

Thankfully, more than 80 percent of these tires were reused in tire-derived fuel, new rubber products, road construction, and for other purposes. However, about 16 percent of them were sent to the landfill, according to a report released by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association.

Considering you often have to pay a fee to recycle tires, too, wouldn’t it be great if you could repurpose them on your own? You can, with these unique and innovative ideas perfect for any skill level or crafting ability.

1. Chairs & Ottomans

Turn a tire into an easy seating solution either indoors or outdoors. Perfect for outdoor weather, tires can be painted in bright colors or left as-is for an industrial look. For the seating area in the center of the tire, cut a piece of wood in a circle to fit over the tire’s open interior. Cover with a weather-resistant foam and fabric for a decorative accent. Indoors, tires make great ottomans and unique chairs for entertaining, too, and are especially ideal for kids. Cover them with a thick sisal rope or string for chic style.

sisal rope-covered ottoman
This attractive ottoman used to be a tire. Photo: That Was A What?

2. End Tables

The heaviness and sturdiness of tires, even when stacked, makes them a great material for end tables. Put a few on top of each other, add a top of glass, wood, or even granite, and you’ve got a piece of furniture that’s sure to bring on some comments from friends and family.

3. Tire Swings & Climbing Towers

Before the days of designer play sets, kids used to have fun on old-fashioned tire swings. There’s still nothing wrong with tire swings today and, in fact, tires can be used for all sorts of repurposed playground equipment. For a different kind of vertical challenge, build a climbing tower of tires.

4. Teeter Totters

Teeter totters can be created out of half of a tire and a piece of wood for younger children.

5. Sandboxes

For more leisurely play, fill a tire with sand for a self-contained sandbox for the kids.

sandbox made from old tire
Make a thrifty sandbox from an old tire. Photo: I Heart Naptime

6. Hanging Planters

In the garden, why not use tires as hanging planters? Using some heavy duty rope or chain, attach the tire to a tree, rafter, or hook on the wall for a unique vertical planter.

7. Raised Garden Beds

Tires also make excellent raised garden beds, too. Simply set down the tire flat in the yard or garden, fill with potting soil, and add plants. Stack several up on top of each other for easier-to-reach raised gardens, or for plants with deep root systems.

8. Yard Art

Yet another way to use tires in the garden is to create works of art for personalized “sculptures.” Using some paint, and maybe a saw, tires can be transformed into dragons, caterpillars, frogs, ladybugs, and snowmen, as well as intricate sculptures.

frog yard art made from tires
Feeling whimsical? How about a green frog made from old tires? Photo: Two Women and a Hoe

Let your creativity go wild!

Feature image courtesy of Noel Hankamer

Editor’s note: Originally published on May 14, 2015, this article was updated in June 2019.


By Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit KimButton.com for more information.