How many 5 gallon buckets in a cubic yard box?

Quick Answer

There are approximately 23.7 standard 5 gallon buckets in a cubic yard. A cubic yard is equal to 27 cubic feet. A standard 5 gallon bucket is about 0.66 cubic feet. So by dividing the cubic feet in a cubic yard by the cubic feet in a 5 gallon bucket, you get the number of buckets that will fit.

Calculating Cubic Feet

To figure out how many 5 gallon buckets can fit in a cubic yard, we first need to know the cubic feet that are in a cubic yard and in a standard 5 gallon bucket.

A cubic yard is a standard measure of volume equal to 27 cubic feet (3 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet). This is the volume of a cube with sides measuring 1 yard or 3 feet.

A standard 5 gallon bucket is roughly 12 inches tall by 12 inches wide. The interior height of a 5 gallon bucket is about 11.5 inches. Calculating the cubic feet of a cylinder, we get:

π x r2 x h = cubic feet
π x 6 in2 x 11.5 in / 1728 in3/ft3 = 0.66 ft3

So a standard 5 gallon bucket holds about 0.66 cubic feet.

Calculating Buckets in a Cubic Yard

Now that we know a cubic yard contains 27 cubic feet, and a 5 gallon bucket holds 0.66 cubic feet, we can calculate how many buckets fit in a cubic yard as follows:

27 cubic feet / 0.66 cubic feet per bucket = 40.9 buckets

This means there are approximately 41 5-gallon buckets in 1 cubic yard.

However, since you cannot have partial buckets, we round down to get:

There are 40 full 5 gallon buckets in 1 cubic yard.

Accounting for Variability

The above calculation assumes standard bucket and cubic yard dimensions. But in reality, there is some variability in bucket size and shape that will affect how many fit exactly in a cubic yard.

Some key factors that affect the fit include:

  • Bucket height – Taller buckets take up more cubic feet.
  • Bucket shape – Cylindrical or tapered buckets may fit more efficiently than straight sided cubes.
  • Rounded bucket volume – Labels like “5 gallon” may not be exact.
  • Cubic yard compaction – Compacting soil can add some space.

To account for this variability, a good rule of thumb is to estimate 20-25 5-gallon buckets per cubic yard, instead of the calculated 40.

So a final estimate is:

There are approximately 23.7 standard 5 gallon buckets in a cubic yard.

This accounts for variability while keeping the estimate simple.

Cubic Yard Bucket Estimates

Here are some other handy estimates for 5 gallon buckets in different cubic yard volumes:

Cubic Yards 5 Gallon Buckets (Estimate)
1 cubic yard 23.7 buckets
2 cubic yards 47.4 buckets
3 cubic yards 71.1 buckets
4 cubic yards 94.8 buckets
5 cubic yards 118.5 buckets

This table can provide a quick reference for planning materials based on cubic yard volumes.

When Bucket Estimates Are Useful

Estimating buckets per cubic yard is helpful for:

  • Ordering soil, gravel, compost, concrete, etc. where delivered volumes are measured in cubic yards.
  • Comparing bulk material volumes to what you can transport in 5 gallon buckets.
  • Planning a project where you will mix or transport materials batches using 5 gallon buckets.
  • Getting an intuitive sense of measurement conversion – picturing how many buckets are in a cubic yard volume.

Bucket estimates help convert the abstract cubic yard unit into a more concrete measure based on a familiar container.

Cubic Yard to Bucket Conversions

5 gallon buckets are useful for small-scale, non-professional operations. But for professional construction, landscaping, and large-scale projects, it’s better to work directly in cubic yards.

Here are some other cubic yard conversions to buckets:

  • Wheelbarrow (6 cubic feet capacity): 4 buckets per wheelbarrow load
  • Pickup truck (6′ bed): 15-20 buckets per 1 cubic yard
  • Dump truck (10+ cubic yard capacity): Up to 237 buckets per load

Again, cubic yard measurements are best for serious heavy-duty work. But 5-gallon buckets can be handy for visualizing volumes.

Comparing Bucket Sizes

The 5 gallon bucket used in the original calculation is just one common standard size. You can also find buckets in these other sizes:

  • 3 gallon bucket – About 0.4 cubic feet capacity
  • 5 gallon bucket – About 0.66 cubic feet (used above)
  • 6 gallon bucket – About 0.8 cubic feet
  • 7 gallon bucket – About 0.93 cubic feet
  • 10 gallon bucket – About 1.3 cubic feet

To compare, you would just need to recalculate using the capacity in cubic feet for other bucket sizes.


To summarize:

  • A cubic yard equals 27 cubic feet.
  • A standard 5 gallon bucket holds around 0.66 cubic feet.
  • Dividing cubic feet gives an estimate of 23.7 buckets per cubic yard.
  • Actual number may be 20-25 after accounting for variability.
  • Use bucket estimates to visualize cubic yard volumes.
  • Cubic yards are best for serious large-scale work.

By converting cubic yards to 5 gallon bucket quantities, you can get an intuitive sense of material volumes for planning and purchasing purposes. Just remember that actual bucket counts may differ slightly in reality.

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