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.





About the blonde gardener

I'm an Arkansas girl born and raised. I garden in the beautiful Northwest part of the state (zone 6b or 7) surrounded by the Ozark Mountains. My favorite part about the area is we have 4 distinct seasons and are able to enjoy a variety of activities. My main passion is gardening but I also enjoy hiking, birding, 4-wheeling and motorcycle trips. Basically anything outside. Thanks for stopping by! Brenda
This entry was posted in do it yourself, Garden, Home, Lake house and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to How to Make New Metal Look Old

  1. I used metal for the ceiling of the basement. Ours was reclaimed from a failing barn, so it had the old look naturally…because it is old enough to be completely useless for roofing. Great job on yours!


  2. Very neat!! Do you think it will rust in the bathroom humidity?


  3. Peter/Outlaw says:

    The end result is really cool but I kind of doubted you when you talked about having a corrugated metal ceiling and shower. Your vision was right on!


  4. Looks good! Definitely not something I would have thought of.


  5. I’ve seen some corrugated showers in the tiny house movement and even in home decorating. What I don’t understand is why you didn’t just buy some used sheets that were already bunged up since that’s the look you were after. Yeah, you might be craZy but, then, who I am to judge when I orbit the Crooked Moon? Laughed out loud at all those “looks” you got.


    • Finding sheets that long that just weren’t rusted through was the challenge. We also didn’t want even the slightest hole in the ones we used for the shower surround. I myself am a big fan of the rusted look. Allen, on the other hand, is not so we compromised.


  6. Dawn says:

    Wow, Brenda! What a transformation… and a lot of hard work! I’m so glad that everything turned out just the way you hoped. It’s a great look!! ♡


  7. My son has corrugated tin ceilings in his upstairs bonus room that will become the children’s play room. He did not weather it, though. It shines! 😉 However, I do like how simple it was to install and how the corrugations work like stripes to elongate the room. 🙂


  8. Jennifer says:

    Can you show me a picture of the bottom of the shower surround? Do you have a shower curtain up? Just wondering how you keep the water from running on to the bathroom floor. We’re remodeling a cabin and using the corrugated metal around the shower, and trying to get ideas for the bottom part of the shower. There’s only about a 3″ lip on the bottom of the shower, and we’re afraid it’s not enough to keep the water in the shower. Thanks!


    • I don’t have a picture but we made about a 4″ lip out of concrete. (the whole floor of the shower is concrete, too) I have a shower curtain up and have not had any issues with water getting on the floor. I’ve been very pleased with ours!


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