How to Make New Metal Look Old

When I told Allen I wanted to have a corrugated metal ceiling and shower in the master bedroom and bath at the lake house, I got “the look”.
You know “the look”.  Everyone you know has their own unique “look” for the unexpected request.  For Allen, the look starts when I open my mouth and say, “I’ve been thinking…”
“The look”  doesn’t  bother me.  I’ve gotten “the look” many times over the last 32 years of our marriage.  But when I said I wanted the new metal to look old, not only did I get “the look”, I got the, Are You CraZy?? “look” as an added bonus.
But, after he thought about it, looked at some pictures I found, and talked to his brother, he/they/we decided it could work and set out to make it happen.
We purchased our corrugated metal sheets at a local lumber yard.  Since these sheets are usually used for barns, the lumber yard had various sizes and better prices than the big box home improvement stores.  They are covered with a zinc coating to keep the metal from rusting, though, and it is very shiny.
How to make new metal look old
But I didn’t want shiny.  I wanted a duller finish that looked aged.  So that meant using some elbow grease to remove the coating.
Let’s start with some basic supplies.
How to make new metal look old
What worked best for me was steel wool grade 3.  This is a coarse steel wool that could roughen up the metal with just a couple of swipes.  Fortunately, we had some unusually warm days for January and I was able to do this outside.
After I roughed up a piece, I liberally squirted toilet bowl cleaner over the sheet.  I tried every toilet bowl cleaner out there.  What worked best for me was Lysol (no bleach)
How to make new metal look old
It etched the metal instantly.
How to make new metal look old
I let it sit in the sun while I roughed up another piece.  I came back to the first piece and used the sponge to spread the cleaner all over every inch of the metal.  I left little puddles of cleaner in various spots on the metal hoping it would etch it more.
How to make new metal look old
Wash thoroughly.
How to make new metal look old
The result is a darkening of the metal making it appear old or used.

How to make new metal look old
How to make new metal look old
Here are some tips I learned after doing thirteen, really long sheets.
1) Don’t skip the roughing up part.  I thought I would squirt on the toilet bowl cleaner and then rub it in with the steel wool.  Save a step, if you will.  All that accomplished was it gave my arm an extra work out.  It didn’t etch the metal at all so I washed it off and began the scrubbing process all over again.
2)  I found that after you rough up the metal, wash the sheet and then immediately apply Lysol , it gives the metal a darker, almost rusty look.
3)  I’m not sure that letting the Lysol sit on the metal in the sun makes too much difference.  The sun in January was not that hot so summer sun might be better.  I mainly did that to let my arm rest.
I really liked the result.  The metal ceilings look very rustic and goes well with the plank siding.
How to make new metal look old
Ceiling in the master bath
I did apply two coats of a clear sealer  to the shower surround just for good measure although I’ve talked to a couple of people who have showers like this and they didn’t.
How to make new metal look old
shower surround in master bath
No sealer was applied to the ceiling metal.
How to make new metal look old
Ceiling in master bedroom
It was a lot of work, but I love the end results.  These two rooms are by far my favorite.