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How to Age Corrugated Metal?


Corrugated metal can add an industrial, vintage look to your backyard or garden. Aging the panels gives them a worn, rustic appearance that works well for decorative fencing. With some simple techniques, you can make new corrugated metal fence panels look old and weathered.

Gather Your Supplies

To get started aging your corrugated metal fence panels, you’ll need:

  • Corrugated metal fence panels
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Sea salt or table salt
  • White vinegar
  • Paintbrush
  • Acrylic paint in rust colors (orange, brown, black)
  • Fine grit sandpaper (320 grit)
  • Steel wool (optional)
  • Rubber gloves and eye protection

Standard 28 gauge galvanized steel works well for most aging projects. The thinner the metal, the easier it will be to manipulate and distress.

Clean and Prepare the Fence Panels

Start by giving your corrugated fence panels a quick clean with a wet rag to remove any debris or oils. This helps the aging solutions absorb evenly across the surface.

It’s also a good idea to wear gloves and eye protection, as some of the aging solutions can be harsh on the skin and eyes.

Once cleaned, lean your fence panels against a wall or lay them on a flat surface and you’re ready to start aging.

Create a Rusted Patina

One of the quickest ways to age corrugated metal fence panels is by encouraging them to rust. While real rust takes years to develop, you can mimic the effect in just 20-30 minutes.

Here’s how:

  1. Spray the fence panels lightly with water from your spray bottle. You want them damp but not dripping wet.
  2. Liberally sprinkle sea salt or table salt across the surface. The salt crystals will help create the rusty texture.
  3. Spray or wipe white vinegar over the salt-coated panels. The vinegar reacts with the salt to speed up the oxidizing process.
  4. Allow the fence panels to sit for 20-30 minutes as the rust color develops. Time will vary based on temperature and other factors.
  5. Once you’re happy with the rusty effect, rinse the panels under water to remove any leftover salt and vinegar.

The vinegar and salt cause the metal to oxidize rapidly, leaving behind a convincing rusted patina. With the salts rinsed away, the rusting process stops.

Add Varied Paint Effects

For a multi-layered aged look, add some painted-on effects to your corrugated metal fence panels.

Here’s how to add paint for an aged, weathered appearance:

  1. Lightly scuff the fence panels with 320-grit sandpaper. This helps the paint adhere.
  2. Brush on acrylic paints in rusty tones – orange, brown, black. Water down the paint slightly for a translucent, irregular effect.
  3. While the paint is still wet, drag a stiff brush across it to create smears and scratches in the paint.
  4. Once dry, scuff paint edges with sandpaper to add more wear.

Adding paint gives contrast and visual interest to the rusty patina. Dry brushing and distressing make the paint job look worn rather than freshly applied.

Add Character with More Distressing

For extra aging, try incorporating these distressing techniques on your corrugated metal fence panels:

  • Bend and warp – For raw-looking bends, wrap the panels around a pipe or pole. For ripples, press between boards or books.
  • Dent and scratch – Use a hammer, chisel, or wire brush to add dings and scratches. Concentrate on edges and raised ridges.
  • Expose raw metal – Use coarse sandpaper or a wire wheel to buff through the painted exterior down to the bare metal underneath.
  • Add holes – Drill holes or puncture with nails, screws, or a hole punch. Space randomly or in lines.
  • Soak in vinegar – Soaking painted panels in undiluted vinegar eats away at the paint to show raw metal underneath. Rinse well after soaking.

Go for naturally occurring distress patterns. The most realistic effects focus along the raised ridges and edges of the corrugated metal fence panels.

Seal and Protect the Finish

Once you’ve achieved the desired aged look, seal the fence panels with a matte spray sealant. This locks in the patina and prevents further rusting or oxidation.

Before sealing, do a final rinse to remove any residue from aging solutions. Let the panels dry fully. Apply 2-3 even coats of sealant, following the product directions.

With a sealed finish, your aged corrugated metal fence panels are ready to install for decorative garden fencing. The vintage patina adds warmth and character to your yard.

Over time, high-traffic areas may start to show some wear through the sealer. This just adds to the authentic aged appearance. Simply apply another coat of sealant to refresh as needed. With the right techniques, corrugated metal fence panels can take on a timeworn look that feels like it took years to develop.

Ideas for Using Aged Corrugated Metal Fence Panels

Once you’ve mastered the aging process, here are some ways to use your rustic, weathered corrugated metal fence panels:

  • Garden or backyard fencing
  • Decorative side yard fencing
  • Fencing around raised garden beds
  • Enclosure for compost bins
  • Trellis panels against exterior walls
  • Faux barn siding on sheds
  • Interior accent wall
  • Room divider
  • Faux headboard
  • The backdrop for outdoor parties
  • Section off play areas in a yard
  • Surround a fire pit or outdoor living space

Aged corrugated metal fence panels work both indoors and out. The patina adds texture and warmth wherever you install them. Let your creativity lead you to innovative uses for these weathered corrugated panels. The timeworn look enhances any space.

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