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How to age metal

Ways to Create Verdigris, Rust, Patina and Distressing

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Tarnish, verdigris and patina are all different ways that make metal (and other materials) look old.

In some cases, the oxidization process takes years, in others, months. But you can get this process in only a few hours.

How to age metal

Check out my methods here, and get started on rusticating your metal objects.

How to Age Metal

  • Tarnishing refers mostly to silver, especially sterling.

Old silver eventually obtains a muted opaque look, generally with darker areas where the wearing isn’t removing the tarnish.

Really good silver will tarnish beautifully; as the years pass, the patina will only improve. This is not something you can effectively fake, although soaking the silver in vinegar is a place to start.

  • Verdigris is the greenish blue that occurs on brass and copper, as well as bronze, the admixture of the two metals.

Used for statues commemorating heroes, as roof panels for some very famous buildings, and as the metal used for the Statue of Liberty, the verdigris that shows after years of weathering is very different from the original gleaming colour of copper kettles and brasses used on horse tack.

How to age metal

Verdigris is almost impossible to fake. If ever the verdigris is removed from a roof for instance, or copper rain chains, it can never be matched.

You can make copper wire oxidize enough to get some verdigris by spraying it with a strong vinegar solution, and after several sprayings it will start to change colour.

Use pickling vinegar, for a safe method of making verdigris. See more about verdigris here.

Muriatic acid will also work, but requires more care as it is very strong. It’s used as a rust remover in commercial applications, and can be purchased at vehicle maintenance supply stores.

How to age metal

  • Patina is a catch all phrase to mean the look of age or weathering that occurs to all items.

It can be the lichen on old buildings and bridges, unchanged for centuries, or the look of a well loved piece of antique furniture.

Once removed by renovation, the patina will never be the same.

Coin collectors know this all too well – after the first time someone brings them a valuable seldom struck piece of ancient currency that they ‘cleaned up’ – removing the patina purposely is never a good idea, as it removes the worth and value of the piece too.

  • Rusting is another way to make metal look old, and fortunately, it is possible to fake.

Only old farm equipment and cars left out in the baking sun for decades can beat the faux rusting process that I use.

Simply throwing cans and metal objects, even shiny new barbed wire into the fire to remove any paint or other manufacturing finishes, and then leaving the item out in the rain and weather to finish the process can give you a beautiful rusty patina.

Want it to happen faster? 

After burning the finish off, spray or dip the item in a bath of bleach, vinegar or salt water.  That will get the oxidization process started. 

When it’s the right amount of rustiness, rinse it off, and let it age out in the weather. 

Snow is the best weathering agent around, but rain works too.

How to age metal

Use this technique for cans to use in tin can planters and tin can lanterns. See the magical effect of this punched tin lamp shade.

I’ve had a lot of fun with making tin can buckets too.  The addition of a few beads makes all the difference to the finished project.

You can speed up the process by spraying with bleach which will make the item rust almost instantly. Rinse the bleach off when it’s done its job.

You need to take care when handling these items, as the rust will come off on your hands.

There’s just something about old, rusty metal. And no, I don’t mean the chance of getting tetanus! Old, rusty metal just looks cool. Maybe it’s because we know only the hands of time can give metal that weathered look. Or is it?

Have you ever wondered how to age metal? We can get that look at home and it doesn’t require much time at all. The best part is you probably already have all the supplies on hand to do it. Today I’ll show the easiest way to age metal… EVER!

How to age metal

For your convenience, this post contains affiliate links to supplies or tools I used to complete this project. Purchases made using these links help support the Saws on Skates website and allow me to share more DIY projects. and DIY tips with you. There is no cost to you for using these links. Click here to visit my site policies.

Some furniture projects just look better with aged metal. Take a look at the removable tray I made for the DIY bar cart. This piece would look completely different with bright, shiny metal braces.

How to age metal

I also used age metal brackets on the craft beer growler carrier.

How to age metal

This is the easiest way to age metal… EVER! The process uses common household products. Do you have table salt, vinegar, and peroxide? Then you’re ready to age some metal! Just like we used vinegar and steel wool to darken wood for this project and this project, we’ll use a similar process to age metal.

How to age metal

Check out the quick one-minute video to see how it’s done!

Are you ready? This is the easiest way to age metal… EVER!

How to Age Metal

Supplies

Step 1.

Pour about 2 tablespoons of salt into a container.

How to age metal

Step 2.

Place the metal objects to be aged in the container. I used some corner braces for this tutorial.

How to age metal

Step 3.

Pour enough vinegar to cover the metal objects.

How to age metal

Step 4.

Add a little more salt for good measure and let the metal soak. The solution will produce bubbles, so it’s best to do this process outside.

How to age metal

I let the braces soak about 4-5 hours until the solution stopped bubbling.

How to age metal

Step 5.

Use gloves or tongs to remove the metal from the solution and place in another container.

How to age metal

Step 6.

Add some salt to the new container.

How to age metal

Step 7.

Pour enough peroxide to cover the metal objects. The solution will start oxidizing right away. I let the metal brackets soak about 30 minutes until the solution stopped bubbling.

How to age metal

Step 8.

Use gloves or tongs to remove the metal from the solution and place on a paper towel. Allow the metal to dry.

How to age metal

Final Thoughts

That’s it! That’s all there is to aging metal! Thank you for stopping by to check out the easiest way to age metal… EVER! If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? I would really appreciate it!

Yesterday I shared how to make a DIY metal arrow sign. Today I’m going to show you how to age it to perfection. I’m not real crazy about super aged things these days, I mostly go for a fresh look, but this metal sign needed something and a little aging never hurt, right? Well, I mean age galvanized metal, that is. With a couple of common household products and a couple of tools, you can get all aged up in minutes.

How to age metal

How to age metal

As for chemicals you only need two things: Clorox Clinging Bleach Gel toilet cleaner (I tried about 5 brands – this worked best) and regular old baking soda. You’ll also need a worn out old paint brush and a heat gun (I love mine from HomeRight*). You’ll also need a small glass (we’ll get to that in a minute.)

How to age metal

This is kinda two step, but it goes pretty quickly. First, squirt the cleaner onto the metal. Notice how it pools in the valleys? Yeah… that’s why we need a brush and the heat gun.

How to age metal

With one hand use the brush to spread out the cleaner, and with the other use the gun to dry it onto the metal. If you have a friend it goes faster. We did it outdoors and the chemical smell was hardly noticeable – but if you’re sensitive to these things then please wear a mask.

Once you have the whole thing coated with the dry cleaner, then move to step two.

How to age metal

In a glass, mix together more of the same bathroom cleaner about half and half with baking soda until you get a paste. This is where the magic is really going to happen. But don’t skip the first step – make sure you have the coat of full strength cleaner on there before moving on.

How to age metal

Paint the cleaning/soda mix onto the metal with a brush in a good, thick layer, then dry again with the heat gun.

How to age metal

When it’s dry it will start to bubble up, and that’s exactly what you want. Make sure you have a enough on there to really coat it well. The baking soda helps to make sure it’s thick enough to really sit on the metal – even on the sloping parts – so it all ages beautifully.

Once the entire piece is dry, give it a few minutes to cool off, then wash it down with water to clean off all the dried on stuff and reveal all that beautiful aging.

How to age metal

If you want to age galvanized metal – just remember, you won’t be able to control every little inch. It will have darker and lighter places and find a beauty all on its own. But this technique works really well, especially on galvanized metal roofing.

*Thanks to HomeRight for partnering with me on this post. All ideas, opinions, words and images are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links*

About Gina Luker

Gina Luker is a writer, photographer and lover of all things quirky. She’s usually found with a drill in one hand and a cocktail in the other while blogging along the way. She’s addicted to coffee, polka dots, rock stars, Instagram, and everything aqua.

Comments

Great tutorial, this looks amazing.

Thi is really cool…going to make one this weekend…can you tell
me how you hung yours?
Thank you!

Gina Luker says

I just used a couple of screws in the top corners (drill a hole for them first) Super easy!

Suzanne Melton says

This is funny: I moved my computer and “stuff” into Dave’s office because my office is next to be textured, painted, etc.

As I was reading your email, Dave turned around and said, “How to age galvanized metal roofing?” What’s THAT about?

So, as I was opening the link, I explained what you did yesterday to make the sign. Then, we had to read all these instructions. I can still see his mind spinning.

Genius! I have a crate full of gavanized sign blanks that are way to shiny. Can’t wait to try this…will post a pick when done!

Susie aka cooknwoman says

Perfect! I’m building a chicken coup and wanted the galvanized roof to look aged – thank you so much Gina!

Hm, I like the aged look. What if you don’t have a heat gun? Will it work? If you want rust, all you have to do, is spray it with muriatic acid and rinse with water. Voila! Rust!

Is the heating gun absolutely necessary? I don’t know what else I would use it for and don’t want yet another one application tool. Thanks!

Gina Luker says

A really strong hair dryer might do the trick.

Would you be able to use the Aged Galvanized Metal behind a wood stove or would the ‘finish’ be ruined?

Gina Luker says

I don’t see why not Lindsey, it would look awesome!

Gaining Galvanized Metal Roofing

I first tried just putting Clorox bathroom cleaner and used a paint brush to coat everything. Left it in 100 degree weather for two days, rinsed and it was as shiny as when I started.

Second try I first west over entire surface with steel wool. Then put on the bath cleaner and used a sponge to make sure it was thoroughly covered and again left it out in 100 degree weather. Just rinsed and its still as shiny as when I started.

Please any suggestions?
Sincerely,
Bobbie

Gina Luker says

Did you do the 2nd step with the bathroom cleaner and baking soda? Maybe try reading the tutorial again and give it another shot? Practice makes perfect 🙂

Tina Lasser says

I used Zep Acidic Toilet Bowl Cleaner found @Lowe’s then to add rusted look afterwards cleaned them let dry then sprayed with hydrogen peroxide and shook table salt on let dry then dry rag wipe and clear coat

Metal aging is one of the most common ways to alter the properties of a metal alloy. While many metals may have their properties altered through heating and quenching or work hardening, some metal alloys are specifically formulated to be aged. Aging can alter the physical and aesthetic properties of an alloy to give it characteristics quite different than its unaged form.

What is Metal Aging?

Metal aging is a process used on solution heat-treated metal alloys that can be done artificially or happen naturally. Natural aging occurs throughout the life of the metal alloy. During the natural aging process, super-saturated alloying elements within the metal alloy form what are known as metal precipitates. These precipitates block dislocations in the metal, increasing the strength and hardness of a metal alloy while reducing its ductility. Artificial aging is a process that is used to accelerate the formation of precipitates in a solution heat-treated metal alloy to a rate that is much faster than the natural aging process. The artificial aging process is performed by elevating the temperature of the solution heat-treated metal alloy to a point below its recrystallization temperature but high enough to speed up precipitate formation. Once the alloying element precipitates have become the correct size, the metal alloy is then cooled rapidly to prevent any further change in the metal precipitates.

What Types of Metals Can Be Aged?

There are many types of metal alloys that can be aged to alter their physical properties, as long as they are solution heat-treatable:

Aluminum: The 2XXX, 6XXX, and 7XXX series of aluminum alloys are all ageable and many of their various forms derive their strength from artificial aging. One of the most common aged aluminum alloys is 6061-T6. It has magnesium silicide precipitates that block dislocations and increase its strength and hardness greatly in the -T6 form.

Stainless steel: 17/10P, 17/4PH, and 17/7PH are a few common stainless steel alloys that have extremely high strengths and hardnesses when they are properly aged because of the metal alloy precipitates in their structures.

Copper alloys: C17200 and C17300 are two copper-beryllium alloys that are frequently used in industry. Generally known for being soft and ductile, copper can be quite hard, strong, and brittle when the right additions of alloying elements are used with a proper aging technique.

Other metal alloys: Titanium, nickel, and magnesium, as well as several other metals, can be aged if they have alloying elements in their chemical makeup that make them solution heat-treatable.

Overaging

One concern when aging a metal alloy, either naturally or artificially, is something known as overaging. This occurs when the precipitates change in size due to an aging process that is performed past the point of being beneficial to the application. This often results in reduced strength and hardness. Two common ways this happens is by welding or cold working a metal. Care should be taken to determine if a solution heat-treatable metal needs to be artificially aged again, following one of these two processes to ensure that the desired mechanical properties are still present.

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How to age metal

How to age metal

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How to age metal

How to Age Galvanized Metal

Sometimes we can’t always find those perfect aged and Vintage items to suit our project! This easy DIY project shows you how to age Galvanized Metal Containers in a mater of minutes.

Britt found a Vintage Galvanized Tub that she built into her laundry room and it has functioned extremely well. However, when dealing with galvanized metal it can rust and corrode quite easily, thus allowing water to leak.

How to age metal

For her garden area Britt wanted something with a bit of character for her water trough, but she knew it had to be practical and actually hold water!

Wanting to incorporate metal into the garden space, she tried finding a galvanized tub but knew finding the exact size in decent shape would be nearly impossible!

So follow along with this simple DIY project to create an aged galvanized container for your space!

How to age metal

Rust is not always the enemy. When it comes to making your favorite item look authentically old, a spot or two of rust makes all the difference. A sterile-looking metal chest or a rustic wood cabinet with shiny new hinges and knobs, for instance, transform into items you could swear have character and history you can feel with a little rust. But rust forms naturally when metal is left exposed to moisture, heat and air. That doesn’t much help when you’re refinishing an object now and don’t want to wait.

Carry the item outside or set up your work area in the garage instead. Open windows and the garage door to ensure plenty of ventilation.

Scuff the metal with fine-grit sandpaper. The deeper you sand it, the more rust will form. Some metals have protective coatings that prevent rust unless the coatings are removed. But Even uncoated metals rust better when the surface is roughed up.

Fill a spray bottle with regular-strength hydrogen peroxide, such as you buy in the drugstore. Mist the peroxide across the metal, wetting generously. Immediately shake table salt onto the metal surface. Experiment with the salt, scattering it randomly or coating the metal, for instance, to achieve different rust effects. Wait while the rust forms, which begins immediately. Wipe away the salt and repeat the process if more rust is desired. Finish with a cold water rinse to smooth the surface. This technique works especially well for items too large to soak.

Place the metal in a glass or plastic container large enough to hold it. Don a face mask and protective gloves. Pour household bleach over the metal, using just enough to entirely cover the item. Cover the container with a lid or anything else capable of sealing the container. Wait 12 to 24 hours before draining the bleach into the toilet. Immediately pour vinegar over the metal and shake in a handful of salt. Cover and wait another 12 to 24 hours. Discard the vinegar solution in a sink drain. Allow the metal to air-dry in the sun to form rust.

Metallography is undoubtedly one of the most useful techniques for addressing the numerous questions posed by archaeologists about metal artifacts. The most frequent questions include:

∎ What is the nature of the metal or alloy which the object is made of?

∎ Where did the object and/or its raw materials originate?

∎ What technologies were employed in producing the object?

Many aspects of a metal artifact’s history are imprinted in its microstructure (i.e., the structure of the material as revealed under the microscope after appropriate surface preparation). The artifact has a story to tell and the role of the archaeometallurgist is to read and translate the story by studying and interpreting the microstructure. In most cases it is productive to supplement the information obtained from optical microscopy by using other analytical techniques. This will be illustrated below.

Although it is frequently not possible to obtain definitive answers to the above questions, this does not necessarily mean that the analysis has served no useful purpose. For example, it may be just as important to demonstrate what an artifact is not as to prove what it is . Eliminating some of the possible identifications may be a valuable contribution.

Consider the first question: What material is the artifact made of? It is normally essential to perform elemental analyses in order to identify the material. Nevertheless, metallography is a useful first step in answering this particular question. Furthermore, the specimen prepared for optical microscopy can be used without further preparation for other analytical techniques (such as electron probe microanalysis) which can yield an elemental analysis. As will be demonstrated in the following case studies, metallography is of great value in assessing the forms of impurities in metallic materials. This is highly useful information which elemental analysis cannot provide.

Take your galvanized metal from shiny and new, to crusty and antiqued in no time with these simple steps! Ad charm to all your shiny new galvanized goods!

How to age metal

I have this obsession with old crusty metal buckets and watering cans. I know I’m not alone here, and that you too are in love with these things. Right? Unfortunately, they are not easy on my wallet, so I have to restrain myself when I see them in the wild. I mean, unless they are really amazing. Since my wallet doesn’t match my love of crusty buckets, we have a ton of the super-shiny-not-even-close-to-crusty galvanized metal containers, which I seem to hoard from various stores (I’m looking at you, Ikea and Target) with lofty plans of aging them on my own (but obviously, that never happened because, life).

Did I mention I also needed a tree skirt for our Christmas tree this year? I have been using the same ruffled skirt I made, which is on display in my Christmas Decor Tour from last year. There is also a horribly written and photographed post about actually making the skirt, and if you want to go hunt for that non-award-winning post, you can feel free. I shall save you the agony, and your eyes from the sight. That thing is about 6 years old, and I’m just tired of looking at it. First world problems, right?

I was torn between these skirt options from the Hearth and Hand line at the mothership (Target):

Ultimately I was hunting for the galvanized collar, which was just not meant to be as it was literally nowhere to be found online, or in any Target in my tai-state area. So, I was down to the green plaid or white with X‘s. The green plaid would match the Hearth and Hand ribbon on my pinecone ornaments (a fresh cinnamon batch of these ornaments from last year), and the other matches my dishtowels I scooped up!

The agony of choosing were more than I could bear, but my choices were made because my local Target was out of those too. Which, lead me to this shiny galvanized bucket (which used to hold a fairy garden) and my naked tree stand with tree.

If you’re a lover of farmhouse decor, a shiny new bright galvanized bucket might not be quite what you’re looking for. An awesome basket, box, or crate would be perfect, or the other two tree skirts that were sold out, or… an old crusty bucket.

See where I’m going with this!?

How to age metal

Let’s Age Galvanized Metal

How to age metal

Carefully pour the acid into the spray bottle, and spray the acid onto the bucket. We diluted it for the first application, but it didn’t do enough, so we went full strength and let it sit. Then rinse, and let it dry.

The acid will eat off the galvanized coating, and the longer it sits, the funkier it gets. The first spray down, Andrew washed it off after 10 minutes, but the second one, we ran errands while it sat. So let it go about an hour, then rinse it down.

After we let it dry, Andrew scrubbed in circles with the toilet cleaner, which helped to add the ever so subtle white haze.

How to age metal

Let it sit for a little while (I left him in charge of this step, so there’s no official time on this, but give it about 20-30 minutes), then rinse. I have been told, the longer it sits, the more crust forms. We had just cut our tree down, and it was relaxing in the living room, so we only let it sit for about 20 minutes.

If you’re using a big ol’ funky and crusty (formerly) galvanized metal bucket for your tree skirt, you are ready to just put the tree inside. There will most likely be the addition of some logs or blankets to the very inside of the bucket to help hide the tree stand. Our tree is about 8′ tall, so the stand inside fills up the entire circumference of the bottom of the pail. There is, however, room for a little bit o’ decor underneath.

How to age metal

Truth be told, I am in love with the bucket. Can I also draw attention to the unnatural amount of ornaments on that lower branch? Thanks kids! I can’t believe it took me this long to give this bucket some age, and make it glorious. The needles fall into the bucket, the water overage can be dried up easily, my kids don’t get all tangled in the skirt, and there’s no fluffing the skirt to begin with. Vacuuming the fallen needles and rogue flock is super easy, so this is probably my go-to for the next 5 years, until I’m sick of looking at this bucket.

In the study of the historical period known as prehistory, there are two moments that mark human evolution. The first is the Stone Age and the second is the Metal Age. Each one has its very particular characteristics, but it is in the Metal Age where groups of people begin to form villages and begin to establish sedentary towns, able to produce their tools and food to stay alive and to live in a community.

How to age metal

Related topics

What is the Metal Age?

The Metal Age is the period of prehistory after the Stone Age which is composed of the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and Iron Age. It originates in the years 4,000 B.C., and ends in the years 405 B.C., in the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia. This time of humanity is marked by the birth of metallurgy and the manufacture of metal tools for agriculture and livestock and for the construction of combat weapons.

The Metal Age can be divided into three major parts, such as the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. But it is important to say that this stage begins with the development of metallurgy in different continents as Europe, Africa and Asia.

Characteristics of the Metal Age

The Metal Age is divided into three moments and these are its characteristics:

Copper or Chalcolithic Age

  • It develops between 6,500 and 2,500 B.C.
  • Gold, silver and copper were the most used metals in prehistoric times.
  • Metallurgy develops.
  • Agriculture and cattle breeding are developed.

Bronze Age

  • It takes place between 2,500 and 1,500 B.C.
  • More complex societies are created than in Neolithic populations.
  • Bronze was found in India, Iran, Armenia, Egypt and Sumerian.
  • The Aegean Sea is an exclusive space for bronze trade.

Iron Age

  • It develops from 1,500 B.C.
  • This metal is used to make weapons and tools.
  • The Hittites were the first to use iron in 1,300 BC.
  • Being harder than bronze, new metallurgical techniques had to be developed to work it.

Metal Age stages

As mentioned above, in the Metal Age there are three stages. The Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

The Copper Age is the first stage. During the Copper Age, man began to use copper, gold and silver in order to create tools for working the earth, forging weapons, pots and ornaments for funerary rites.

In the Bronze Age, the alloy between copper and tin was discovered to form bronze, a metal that is more resistant than copper. This era begins in South Asia and extends to North Africa. In this moment of history, the sedentary life is consolidated more than in the Neolithic.

The Iron Age is the third stage. Iron was previously known but being considered a precious metal was only used in its beginnings to make jewelry. It was believed that iron was a sacred metal because it came from meteorites that impacted the earth.

It is important to mention that iron is a stronger metal than the previous ones and was more abundant than the other known metals. This led to the adaptation of metallurgical work to this metal.

How did the Metal Age man live?

Coexistence in the Metal Age took place in villages that were gradually transformed into small towns protected by walls. They depended on the productivity of their lands for agriculture and livestock, their importance for religious development and their commercial access routes.

In these societies there were different social groups divided into six types:

  • The bosses.
  • Priests.
  • The warriors.
  • Blacksmiths, goldsmiths and merchants.
  • The bakers, spinners or weavers.
  • Cattlemen and farmers.

Tools in the Metal Age

The tools made during the Metal Age were axes, knives, war weapons, some vessels and other metal objects. Many of the tools created were also used for working in the fields, either for agriculture or livestock.

Much craftsmanship developed in the Metal Age related to religious cults and social classes. Vessels, bracelets and some jewels were made of bronze for some chiefs or priests of the villages.

Economy

Agriculture, livestock and hunting play a fundamental role in the economy of the peoples of the Middle Ages.

It is important to mention that metallurgy, mining, handicrafts and commerce are also developed.

Architecture

Metal Age architecture is made up of houses and religious monuments. The materials used were mostly stone, adobe and wood.

Houses were square, round or rectangular and were surrounded by fortifications with tall towers built with wood called talayots.

Megalithic monuments for religious purposes are still being built in the Metal Age and stone remains the main element in them. Among the religious monuments are the dolmen, the menhirs, the navetas. Many of these works are still preserved in some regions of Eastern and Western Europe.