March 24, 2016

Easy Way To Age Metal

Although there are ways to chemically age metal, the easiest
way (in my opionion)  to make metal objects have an aged
look is to use paint. You also have more control over the
look of the aging process and in the final outcome. 

You can look on Pinterest or other places on the internet
to get an idea of what actual old buckets, etc. look like
to mimick the look with paint. 

To age some olive-type buckets that I got from WalMart
(thanks to Yvonne at Stone Gable blog letting us know
about) I gathered up some acrylic craft paints from my
stash in rusty colors. 

They were such a good price that I got five of them.

These are sold out at WalMart now but due to the popularity
of this type bucket, I am seeing more of them in other stores.

You can use this technique on any type of metal objects that
won't be left outside. The paints I used were craft paints 
which are not waterproof.  I tried sanding on one bucket to
see if that would make less shiny but actually it made it 
MORE shiny and took away the galvanized look.

Here's a close-up of one of the buckets before painting...

 The vintage olive buckets that I liked the look of the most,
were rusty along seams, openings and handles so that is 
what I tried to copy with the paint. 
The colors that worked best for the look I wanted were the reds and browns...not the metallics.

The "tools" that were used mainly were paint, nubby paint
brushes, crumpled paper towels and plastic wrap. A sea
sponge could also be used in place of a brush to get the
paint on the metal in an uneven or mottled pattern. 

Use a pouncing motion to put the paint where you want it on
the metal. Immediately after applying the paint, dab it with
the crumpled paper towel and/or plastic wrap. Work in small
patches at a time so the paint does not have time to dry before
you get to pouncing it with the paper/wrap. 

1. Pounce on paint with brush or sea sponge
2. Pounce on top of wet paint with paper towel
and/or plastic wrap to soften the look of the paint.

1. Pounce on
2. Pounce off

If too much paint comes off, just add more. Even layer
other rusty colors for more authenticity. 
1. Pounce brown paint on top of dried red paint
2. Pounce off some of the brown paint

I was not brave enough to try a sealer on the paint.
I thought no matter how "matte" it was, it might add shine.

I am using the buckets in a covered area by my back door.
The paint (so far) has held up well in that area. 

Here's how the buckets looked with mums in them 
during the Fall...

To elevate the mums in the buckets, pine bark mulch was added
to the bottom until the flowers were at the right height.

The mulch is still in the bottom of the buckets and ready 
to help elevate Spring flowers .

Filling five buckets with flowers can be pricey so I did a
little cheating for Spring. I pulled some artificial daffodils
out of the attic and bought a few new bunches on sale.

Usually it's the greenery on artificial flowers the "give them 
away" so I bought some liriope (or monkey grass) to mimick
real daffodil greenery...I'll plant it in the yard later.

The liriope had been sitting outside at the garden center 
and was kinda weathered looking. After a shot of leaf
shine, (either one) they looked great.
The "Design Master Leaf Shine" came from Michaels; the "Schutlz Leaf Shine" came from Home Depot.

I didn't want any of the plastic pots to show but I also wanted
to keep the pots on the liriope. Some extra potting soil was
added to the bottom of the the liriope pot to elevate the grass.

More pine bark mulch was used if needed to get the top
of the grass at the right height in the metal bucket. 

Now for the "cheater" part...artificial daffodils.
Push down any greenery down the stem or cut it
off completely. Also be sure to cut off the tag (duh).

The flowers are easier to store year-to-year if you can keep
them on the original stem. If you need to cut them off the
stem to help them look more real, just do it. 
You will probably need wire cutters to separate the flowers from the main stem. 

Push the artificial flowers'  down into the real liliorope.
Bend the stems, spread them apart, fiddle with them
to make them look natural in the liriope. 

 Add pine bark mulch (or other filler) around the plastic pot. 
You could stop here or if you want to add some moss.

To add variation to the height of the pots small bowls, etc.
were added underneath the buckets...that is optional.  

None of our back door visitors have been able to tell that
the Spring daffodils are not real. 

 The "Easter Snap" (a blast of cold weather after a period
of warm weather here in the South) is coming this weekend
but it won't bother these daffodils. 

If this paint treatment does wear off on your metal items
just add more layers of rusty colors of paint with 
the same technique to add more layers of "years" . 

I hope you have a blessed Easter weekend!


  1. What a pretty Easter look! I'm thinking of aging cardboard to mimic a pail and this technique would work too! I like the idea of adding a bit of faux flowers when needed - but not everyone. One summer, I added faux green spikey plants to the center of real ones to add height and wouldn't you know it, while my neighbor was admiring my "flowers" she decided to gather the spikey ones in her hands. I had to "confess" that they weren't real and she seemed a bit annoyed. I didn't care - they looked real and I loved it! Have a great Easter, Gayle!

    1. She was probably "annoyed" that you were able to fool her! I think that is a great idea. Yes, this paint technique would work on any type of material even cardboard. In florists' terms adding artificial flowers to real greenery is called a "continental arrangement" has a real name so we aren't so bad!

  2. Hi Gayle, The buckets turned out great and I love how you mixed the faux with real plants.


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