by:

Deborah Lynn

Published:

June 3, 2020

Modified:

June 18, 2022

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How to Age Galvanized Metal

Galvanized metal has been used for years for buckets and planters around the world. Antique floral containers and French galvanized metal planters are some of the most collected and sot after vintage items but sometimes we can't always find those aged or perfectly patinated vintage items! This easy DIY project shows you how to age galvanized metal planters and containers in a matter of minutes. 

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Images and original tutorial by Brittany Dawn.

DIY Aged galvanized metal water tank

The History of Galvanized Metal 

Galvanized metal was first invented roughly 300 years ago when a chemist decided to try immersing clean iron into molten zinc. This process coated the iron with a protective layer of zinc that prevented the metal from rusting or corroding . They called this process Galvanization.

Properties of Galvanized Metal

Galvanized metal has changed the way so many modern-day materials and machinery are made, handled and stored. The properties of galvanized metal have made it ideal for both interior and exterior applications such as garden planters, wash basins, car bodies and more. 

  • Durability - Although it does not last infinitely, galvanizing metal makes it an unparalleled corrosion-resistant material to most metals.
  • Corrosion Resistance - Adding a layer of zinc to the surface of the metal makes this material extremely red rust or corrosion resistant! Although resistant to red rust, galvanized steel can develop white rust over time if exposed to moisture. 
  • Recyclable - Galvanized metal can be recycled and reused by melting it down to make other metal products. 
  • Appearance - The surface of Galvanized metal is bright and beautiful. 
  • Paintability - Although the galvanized layer doesn't require paint, the zinc coating is easily paintable and can even be powder coated. 
  • Formability - The ability to form galvanized metal into other useful products and metals without damaging the metal make is extremely formable.
  •  Abrasion Resistant - With such a durable product as Galvanized metal, this also makes it very resistant to scratches and marks. 

Galvanized Planters for Gardening

With all the amazing properties of galvanized metal, it isn't hard to see why it would make the perfect gardening planters or flower pots.  For over a hundred years, florists and gardeners from around the world have been using galvanized planters as containers and continue to do so in modern times. Let's review some of the pros and cons of using galvanized planters for gardening purposes. 

how to age galvanized metal

Pros and Cons to Gardening with Galvanized Planters

There are certainly some pros and cons to using galvanized metal as planter boxes, you can find a few of them in the chart below. 

Pros

Cons

  • Very Durable 
  • Easily Setup 
  • Attractive Appearance
  • Long Lasting
  • Low Insulation Value
  • Costly
  • Heavy to Move

How Long Does Galvanized Metal Last?

The top advantage of galvanizing metal is its durability! Depending on what you use galvanized metal for, it can last anywhere from 35 to 170 years! If you are using a galvanized metal product as a flower pot or gardening container, the longevity won't be as long due to the breakdown from holding dirt and water. It is still however an excellent option for gardening purposes. 

Shop Galvanized Planters and Watering Cans

Galvanized Sink with flowers in a laundry area


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


DIY Aged Galvanized Metal

Tools and Supplies

  • Galvanized Metal Container
  • Muriatic Acid
  • Black Spray Paint
  • Gunmetal or Grey Spray Paint
  • High Quality Mask
  • Thick Acid Proof Gloves
  • Clothes

Step by Step Tutorial

1. Make sure you wear a proper industrial mask and some lined plastic gloves that can handle being exposed to acid. Also do not attempt this project indoors!

2. Take Muriatic Acid and either add it to a spray bottle or dump directly onto the galvanized metal. It will eat away at the shiny coating very fast.

muriatic acid for aging metal

This will work fast so be careful not to over apply or leave too long. It will corrode fast. If you go too far through the layers of coating then this will cause rusting., which may be okay depending on your project. 

3. Use a rag to wipe around the Muriatic Acid. You will see the metal loosing it's shine quite quickly. 

4. Use a combination of black and grey spray paints. Lightly spray the container from approximately 18 inches away so that you are only lightly applying colour to the galvanized metal container. 

spray paints used to age galvanize planter

You do not need to cover the entire container. The spray paints just add to the depth and variation of the colours.

5. You can either be done at this point or you can go over the container again with a bit more muriatic acid. If you got too much paint in areas then you can remove it with the Muriatic Acid as well. 

6. Clean the container with mild soap and water to stop the acid from reacting.

Before...

galvanized metal stock tank before aging the metal

After!

DIY Aged galvanized metal water tank

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Antiquing Galvanized Metal Tips

  • Make sure you are wearing the proper PPE equipment for handling Muriatic Acid. It is highly corrosive. (You can find Muriatic Acid at Home Hardware Stores)
  • Don't be afraid of having it not turn out. Authentic metal containers have tones of imperfections. 
  • Does your container need to hold water? If it does then don't apply as much Muriatic Acid because when you remove all of the layers of coating the container will rust within a few hours. 

Now that your galvanized planter is aged to perfection, you are all ready to fill it with plenty of little green plants. If your try this DIY, make sure to rate it and leave me a message in the comments about your project. You can also always find me over on Instagram too. 

Yield: 1

How to Age Galvanized Metal

how to age a galvanized planter

Wanting to age that galvanized metal planter? This fast and easy DIY technique will have your new shiny-looking galvanized planters looking old and patina'd in no time!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Active Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Difficulty Intermediate
Estimated Cost $30 +

Materials

  • Galvanized Metal Container
  • Muriatic Acid
  • Black Spray Paint

Tools

  • Gunmetal or Grey Spray Paint
  • High Quality Mask
  • Thick Acid Proof Gloves
  • Clothes

Instructions

    1. Make sure you wear a proper industrial mask and some lined plastic gloves that can handle being exposed to acid. Also do not attempt this project indoors!
    2. Take Muriatic Acid and either add it to a spray bottle or dump directly onto the galvanized metal. It will eat away at the shiny coating very fast.
    3. Use a rag to wipe around the Muriatic Acid. You will see the metal loosing it's shine quite quickly. 
    4. Use a combination of black and grey spray paints. Lightly spray the container from approximately 18 inches away so that you are only lightly applying colour to the galvanized metal container. 
    5. You can either be done at this point or you can go over the container again with a bit more muriatic acid. If you got too much paint in areas then you can remove it with the Muriatic Acid as well. 
    6. Clean the container with mild soap and water to stop the acid from reacting.

    • The acid isn’t watered down, if that is what you are asking. That may cause a reaction. Hope that helps! Have fun!

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