Aging Dollar Store Metal Buckets for Cheap
This year I am decorating in more of a rustic farmhouse look than the usual glitz and glamour Christmas decor. I want to have small buckets with real trees throughout the house so there is no way I can afford $20 for each galvanized metal bucket. Being cheap I decided to try and age some metal buckets I found at the dollar store.
Hubs forewarned me that the really cheap metal buckets could be a challenge to refinish once you remove the protective coating. I already bought the buckets so I decided to try it anyway.
Although the four buckets only cost $18, I spent too long on Pinterest researching various ways of aging galvanized metal. There are various methods using toilet bowl cleaner, bleach and peroxide (I don’t recommend that), or just peroxide and letting them soak.
With some trial and error I found a way to give my cheap buckets the burnished finish I wanted. The final finish depends on you, and I will point that out as we go along.
Aging Galvanized Metal Tutorial
Supplies for Aging Galvanized Metal
Strong toilet bowl cleaner
Cloth pot scrubber
220 grit sandpaper and sander
Matte finish polyurethane coating
A large plastic tray or container
Goggles, gloves, and eye protection.
Notice how shiny and tin looking the original bucket is. Nothing wrong using it as is or painting it, but it wasn’t the look I wanted.
Safety When Aging Metal
Working with toilet bowl cleaner means you need to work in a well-ventilated area. Preferably outside or in a garage where you can open the door to ventilate the fumes. Wear a mask as an extra precaution, as well as eye protectors and rubber gloves. There is no way to know exactly what the metal bucket is made of, so please don’t take chances.
Aging Metal Tutorial
Pour half a container of toilet bowl cleaner into your tray.
Lay your bucket on its side, dip the scrubber into the toilet bowl cleaner and scrub around the bucket from seam to seam. Go around the entire bucket two or three times, and then do the top ring of the inside and then the bottom. Place your bucket aside and let dry.
I left my buckets to dry overnight in the cold garage. The next day the buckets had definitely aged, but it was shabbier than I wanted it to be for interior decor. You may find the finish you get at this stage is exactly the one you want and if so skip the sanding.
Once again I put on gloves, glasses, and a mask. Using a sander with 220 grit paper I removed all the black and rust spots, leaving a dull grey finish that I like. I then took a rag and polished as much of the oxidization off of the bucket as I could and left it to see what happened.
I left the buckets for two hours and unhappily noticed that they had started to tarnish again. I resanded the buckets and then coated them with spray on matte Varathane, and waited.
Eureka, it worked! I checked on the buckets a few times over 24 hours and no change. Its been four days now and they aren’t rusting.
Don’t have time to make this now? Pin it!
The final finish on the buckets is exactly what I wanted, but you can make these buckets as old and used looking as you wish. Just sand off the areas you don’t like.
These buckets now have a nice soft dark grey patina and only a few blemishes. You could add ribbon embellishments or even stencil wording on them, but these ones are staying as they are for this year.
I know its early to be posting Christmas pictures, but closer to the holidays I won’t have the time or patience to be burnishing metal.
I love preparing for the holidays.