How to Get Free Materials for DIY Projects

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Freebies make the DIY world go round, but sometimes they're hard to come by. Snagging a free item or two can help keep your DIY on budget and leave a little extra spending money for your next big project.

Paint Swap

Host a paint swap with your friends. Whether you've got extra chalk paint, latex paint, or even acrylic craft paint laying around—chances are your DIY friends have extra paint too. If you don't need your old paint for any future DIYs, start a swap.

Invite your DIY friends over, the more the merrier, and have everyone bring a few jars or cans of their old paint that is still in good condition. Hang out, make some snacks, enjoy the night, and then let the swapping begin. Have everyone talk about the paint they brought. Talk about the type and the projects it was used for. Then everyone go grab new paint. If you brought three jars of paint, you're allowed to take up to three from the communal table. If you only brought one jar, you can only take one home with you.

Facebook Marketplace

facebook marketplace app on a phone

For bigger DIYs, Facebook Marketplace can come in handy. Search free things in your area and you're likely to find a whole lot of random items up for grabs. We've used Facebook Marketplace to score a free bookshelf that we gave the full DIY treatment. We've seen everything from pianos and dressers to DIY supplies and plants come across the free section of our local marketplace. It's a good place to start a DIY or keep an eye out for supplies and bigger items. If you're patient, you can usually find exactly what you need in a month or two.


craigslist website

Craigslist also has a free section that can be used to your DIY advantage. The free section on Craigslist works just like Facebook Marketplace. You can search the section for specifics or simply peruse and see what sparks your imagination. Similar to Marketplace, lots of big items go up in the free section of Craigslist. So if you're looking to refinish furniture, make sure to start here.

As always with Craigslist though, use caution and be safe when picking up items. When possible, go in pairs just to be safe.


TFP, or trade for pay, is commonly used in the photo field with photographers and models, but we've seen it work for DIYers too. TFP is exactly what it sounds like. You offer something up as a trade instead of a traditional money payment. Whether the trade is service-based or physical, this can be a good way to use what you have to get what you want.

Make sure the terms of the trade are spelled out really well so everyone is on the same page and happy.

Ask Around

free pallet outside grocery store

Need a pallet or cardboard? Ask at your local grocery store during your next shopping trip. Stores often give away their extras and this can be a good way to grab pallets and cardboard.

You can also ask for extras on social media. Figure out the supplies that you need to make your DIY dreams a reality and then ask for a few in a post online. Asking for little things like extra jars, glue sticks, old fabric pieces or extra potting soil can go a long way on social media. You'll be surprised by how many of your DIY friends are willing to pitch in.

Yard Sales

free cabinet

Yard sales are another place where people find freebies. Hit big sales at the end of the day. Often people have made a free box of goodies that they didn't sell. The contents of these boxes can vary drastically but we've seen everything from books and bed frames to paint and old fabric. These free piles are certainly more hit and miss than most of these freebie finding methods but every now and then you just might strike gold.

Whether your favorite freebie finds come from online or some good, old-fashioned in-person scavenging, adding a few free items to your DIY stash never hurts.