How to Antique New Galvanized Metal - Get The Look For Less!

I absolutely love the authentic natural patina of vintage metal pieces, but they can be a bit pricey! I've been collecting rusty garden accessories and decor for years and recently I scored a handful of olive buckets at Target for $5 on clearance! (Not to mention several adorable metal accessories out of the Target Dollar Spot. My guiltiest pleasure!) You just can't beat the $5 price and the buckets were just precious! My only hesitation was that they were just a little too new looking. And so commenced: Operation: Rusty Buckets. :)

I've seen tons of tutorials on Pinterest and blogs and I knew I wanted to give this DIY a try. I also want to be completely transparent in my trials and errors during this process! Spoiler Alert: I had some major fails! Rusty antiques can take years to acquire their perfectly aged patinas, but hopefully my tips can help you to speed up the process if you love the look as much as I do.

Galvanized metal is usually composed of zinc or iron with a steal coating sealed on top to prevent it from rusting. There are some products that you can use to remove this protective top coat and kick start the natural aging process. What I have learned through many, many, many attempts is that your success is ultimately determined by the actual make-up of the item you're trying to alter. You can have all the corrosive products in the world, but unless your bucket is prepped correctly AND is indeed made of a galvanized product - your attempts may be futile, as mine were! Your results can also vary drastically depending on the item and length of treatment. I've seen my pieces appear to only have a duller finish, with a full rusty patina and even end up with a foggy white finish. All were pleasing! Just be prepared for varying results. And just think of how unique your project will be! Not a single identical one like yours in the world! ;)

So here's what I started with and the look I was aiming to achieve:

Here are a few of the bulk products I had on hand to begin the aging process. There a few items I experimented with that are NOT PICTURED! (Lysol and Clorox toilet bowl cleaner, Zep Acidic toilet bowl cleaner, pre-mixed salt water, salt block, steel wool, tap water and rain water.)

You will also need gloves, a few utility spray bottles and buckets large enough to fully submerse your items in.

Items pictured: Bleach, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, muriatic acid.

Links to purchase all supplies at the bottom of the post!

My initial attempts to age my buckets to the extent I wanted were unsuccessful. I removed the rope handles and started by spraying them down with several coats of a muriatic acid and water solution. (Make sure you wear gloves and protective clothing if you're working with this product!) I repeated this process twice and barely noticed any changes. After the second try, I decided to take it up a notch and I scrubbed the buckets with steel wool, but this time I coated them with several coats of pure muriatic acid. 

Still no changes.

My third attempt was to spray them with salt water and let them sit outside in the elements and rain to see I could see any progress at all. After four days outside - nothing.

I then generously coated the buckets with the toilet bowl cleaners, but after three tries with three different brands I hadn't noticed any change. 

The Indestructible Bucket!
At this point, I realized that the bucket itself may be resistant to this process. I was pretty discouraged! But, I was determined to make it work on something! I grabbed a shiny metal milk jug that I also bought at Target and soaked it overnight in a solution of vinegar, water and bleach. I didn't measure the amounts. I just grabbed what I had on hand and poured it all into a large bucket. The metal needed to be completely submersed so I added water until the solution covered all sides of the jug. I don't have a photo of the jug before I dunked it.. Bummer! But trust - It was S.H.I.N.Y! Much more so than the olive bucket!

Here are the results after soaking overnight! JACKPOT!!!

I knew as soon as I pulled the jug out of the water that its finish reacted completely different to this treatment than the olive buckets had to my other tries. The photo on the left is immediately after removing it from the solution. The photo on the right is after rinsing in clean water and letting it sit outside for a few hours! And the longer it sits the rustier it gets!

LEFT: Just after soaking overnight in a water/vinegar/bleach solution RIGHT: Finished product!

The perfect patina!

So.. obviously after my success I decided to try the same technique on my buckets. Onto try number... 257!?!? 

Sadly.. here are the results. After soaking overnight in the same exact vinegar/bleach/water solution AND sitting outside in the rain afterwards AND another coat of acid - they barely look any different. Two thumbs down. :( Aside from literally getting a grinder on these things I've just about tried everything. My friend Kelly also suggested that we set a salt block in them and let that natural process try to corrode the finish, but to be honest, I was ready to throw the towel in and set up my porch decor!

The Indestructible buckets after their overnight soak..
Olive Bucket result after ALL attempts.

Overall, the buckets are ever-so-slightly more dull, but nowhere near the rusty finish I wanted. However, my milk jug looks AMAZING and I am so pleased with it! For a $5 investment I can honestly say these buckets will last you a longggg time and still look as good as new! The cheapest vintage ones I found at the Nashville Flea Market this weekend ran about $40+.. So I can appreciate my clearance finds for the new awesomeness that they are!

Our 2015 fall porch at the farm.

I sincerely hope you can learn from my trial and error and that these tips help you achieve your rusty vintage bucket dreams! Happy DIY-ing!


If you'd like to order any of the products I regularly use to achieve this look you can order them here!
(affiliate links)

Zep Commercial Acidic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, 32 oz Bottle

Lysol Power and Free Toilet Bowl Cleaner Value Pack, 2 Count

Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Bleach Rain Clean Scent Bottle 24 Oz, 2-Pack

SUNNYSIDE CORPORATION 710G1 1-Gallon Muriatic Acid

Clorox Bleach Regular, 64 oz White House White Distilled Vinegar 64oz

Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar 32 oz

White House White Distilled Vinegar 64oz

Mad Buck Innovations Deer Brick Salt Lick Mineral Block with Exclusive Scent Cell, Acorn Scent

Red Devil 0320 8-Pack Steel Wool, 0000 Super Fine


COMING SOON! - Everything Home Digital Magazine

I am SO thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of Everything Home Digital Magazine! Everything Home Magazine is a monthly online home decor (& more) magazine that is written by your favorite bloggers and Instagram friends. Each month we will bring you new ideas for home decor, fun DIY projects, recipes, photo tips and much more! We will showcase small businesses & show you new ways to love the home you're in. The best part? Each column has its own hashtag for you to tag your photos with for a possible feature in the magazine! 


Happy Birthday Baker!

Our wild boy turned TWO years old this week! My oh my how time really does fly. No big party this year. We celebrated at home in our pajamas and had cookies and cupcakes for breakfast. (Which was a big hit, btw!) :) I threw together some last minute decorations the night before his birthday so he'd have some surprises to wake up to. He loved it!

Baker had lots of visits and phone calls throughout the day and he was spoiled rotten by all the people who love him! Meme and PawPaw gifted him a trampoline and Grammy and Grampy got him some cool kitchen accessories for his new play kitchen from mommy and daddy. The Quinney family put together an adorable tractor themed basket for him and our sweet friends Paula and Jay Jay showered him with gifts and love. He is one very loved little boy! Our pride and joy!

Possibly the most exciting part of the day was that my dearest friend gave birth to twins!!! They are absolutely precious and we are so thrilled for their family. What an extra special reason to celebrate! I anticipate lots of birthday fun in the future now that Baker gets to share his special day with two new buddies. Congratulations, Ashley and Mitchell! We love you all so much!

Charlotte and John Daniel - One Day New!

Enjoy a few birthday videos!