Stephie McCarthy
Stephie McCarthy
  • Hometalker
  • Harpers Ferry, WV

Easy Faux Rust Patina Using Wood Ashes and Paint

4 Materials
$20
2 Hours
Medium

Most people paint over rust to make things look new, but if you love farmhouse and country décor like we do, you'll love this easy method we invented to create a soft, durable rust patina. No expensive additives or kits needed. Ordinary wood ashes and paint make this amazing faux rust.

We didn't find much online about ash paint. This is truly an original seat-of-our pants experiment that turned out great. Watch how easy it can be to make permanent, realistic rust on metal.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

For years we experimented with brown paint to get a rust-like patina. Adding wood ash was the key to making this faux finish easy and effective.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

The results won't scrape your skin or deteriorate like real rust. It's a soft but durable finish. Sand the metal lightly before painting, and seal it with a matte sealer when dry and it will be strong for every day use.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

To make ash paint, you'll need wood ash from a wood stove, fire pit, or fireplace. Shown above was what we used to do a test run of this finish on an iron baking pan with heart shapes. The rust dish on the upper right was for reference.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

When we saw how quickly we were able to get the rust effect with wood ash and paint, we were anxious to start on the metal table we got in a thrift shop.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

Here's the table before, sitting on a tarp to catch falling ashes and paint.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

Here's a close up of the highlight colors we used over the flat primer. Don't be afraid to use hot, saturated colors. Rust is colorful! But you can use plain, unsaturated earth tones if you like.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

Here's the flat primer we used. We've listed this in the materials section. Sand the metal and spray on the primer one section at a time.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

No need to pre-blend ash paint. We brushed it on and mixed it "on-the-fly" with this soft paint brush. Don't use a valuable brush. We used disposable and old brushes, though we found that we were able to clean off the paint very easily once completed.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

We did the spray and dust technique at least twice to build up the finish, then we used a small brush to dab highlight colors and ashes everywhere. The small brush is good for detail work. Use a larger brush for less detailed rust. Blend the whole piece to help the ashes melt into the paint. It will set up quickly.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

These hot colors really look great to us whenever we see them on real rust. The ashes will desaturate the colors. You can keep working with this finish for a long time if you like because the paints take several days to completely cure.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

This closeup shows how well the wood ashes added texture along with the various shades of paint.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

Amazingly, this was easy to clean up. We simply swept the fallen ashes into the garden where many plants appreciate the extra nutrition. We use ashes on vegetables and flowers, but avoid acid-loving native plants like blueberries and pines.

easy faux rust patina using wood ashes and paint

The next day, we sprayed a few layers of Mod Podge Matte Acrylic Sealer over the finish. This will darken the color a bit. Looks great to rust lovers like us! You too? For more details on this project, the original blog post is here.

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Stephie McCarthy

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • RBJ
    on Aug 11, 2019

    I really love what you did with the table but my attention was immediately diverted to the deck boards. Is there a blog post or tutorial posted somewhere for the painted colors of the deck?

    • RBJ
      on Aug 11, 2019

      Thank you for replying. I absolutely love it and I would definitely call it a Picasso. I will be watching for the tutorial.

  • Ear25710758
    on Sep 1, 2019

    Thank you for the tip, will start saving ashes and try one of this days. It looks so much better with your finish. I have to be honest I fell in love with your aqua blue floor finish. Would be nice to see how you done it too 😬

Join the conversation

4 of 10 comments
  • Lja23984216
    on Aug 11, 2019

    I saw this and immediately thought of copper! I could use this technique to get an aged copper look. Awesome, thanks.

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Aug 11, 2019

      Yes, I think ashes are going to be the new thing for faux finishes … I was thinking ashes would look good mixed with the verdigris colors on aged copper, down in the crevices, etc. Let me know how it goes! -- Stephie

  • Mary McDonald
    2 hours ago

    It looks soo authentic! Well done! I have an old fire pit grate that looks exactly like that, if you want it. 😊😉 just kidding!

    • Stephie McCarthy
      17 minutes ago

      Thanks, Mary :D I found a grate that looks even worse than this in my barn, lol! -- Stephie

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