How to Age Galvanized Metal

3 Materials
5 Hours

Hi, I'm Liz from Simple Decorating Tips, a DIY and decorating blog.

Finding vintage age galvanized metal stock tanks, washtubs and the like are a little hard to find. But did you know new galvanized ones are still made and a little more readily available? And… did you know that there is a pretty easy way to age galvanized metal finishes? I bet you’ll never guess what the secret ‘age galvanized metal chemical’ is either!

I have purchased a few new galvanized metal pieces in the past week.

I bought a pair of new galvanized washtubs. The washtubs are inside the potting shed, on a vintage washtub stand. (Visit my site for a fun tour of the potting shed!)

I also bought this cutie:

This large stock tank would be for outside, under the vintage water pump by the road. ( If you’re looking for a galvanized stock tank, here are a few to choose from)

Outside, on a sunny day, the galvanized finish reflected the telltale new-ness. I mean it was shiny! In fact so shiny that I had to move it into the shade to work on it. Truly blinding in the sunlight. Probably so shiny it would have been a hazard for cars passing by! Well, maybe, but you get my point.

The water pump, we planned to set it by, is antique, so it seemed more appropriate for this tank to be vintage looking. Something that looked like it had been around ‘the farm’ for a few years.

The process to age galvanized metal, to add those years in a single day, is pretty simple, as long as you can work outside. I’m pretty sensitive to fumes and this process is a drippy fume-y mess. I doubt you’d want to drag a huge stock tank into your home to work on it anyway. On a much smaller scale, to age galvanized metal on a pail maybe could be done inside, but I really don’t like fumes and would still recommend doing it outside.

First, after I covered the area with thick plastic, I used steel wool and rubbed, trying to scuff up the finish on the entire outside of the stock tank and around the rim. I didn’t worry about the inside much because it would be filled with soil and flowers.

Next, I poured the magic ‘age galvanize metal chemical’ on the galvanized stock tank, working one side at a time.

Can you tell what the magical ingredient is????

LOL! Toilet bowl cleaner!

With a gloved hand, using steel wool, I wiped the toilet bowl cleaner, over the entire exterior of the stock tank, leaving a thick coat of the gel to soak.

About 3 or 4 hours later, I was surprised that the gel was still wet.

I then went over it again with another rub of the steel wool and let it set another hour or so.

I then wiped it off with a rag and rinsed the entire tank really well and then wiped it dry.

Just for a little extra aging effect, I doused the tank with some vinegar and let that sit for another hour or so. This was a pretty easy-going recipe, and I was busy gardening so I’m estimating the timing of it all.

I forgot to take a picture of the vinegar stage, but in case you don’t know what a bottle of vinegar looks like, here’s one:

After the vinegar layer, I rinsed the galvanized stock tank really well again.

This is the end results of my attempts to age galvanized metal on the stock tank. I’m super happy that the shiny finish has been drastically toned down. I think each year it’ll just age more and more with this initial aging process to give it a quick start.

Want to see that whole planting bed the stock tank is in? Come visit Simple Decorating Tips and you can find tons of tips, tutorials, decorating and gardening ideas.

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Liz at Simple Decorating Tips

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


Have a question about this project?

3 of 13 questions
  • Kam
    on Jun 21, 2020

    I would line the inside with flex seal.

    • I'm unclear what the purpose of flexseal would be for this galvanized planter? It was water tight, as it is a watering trough... I drilled in holes to create drainage holes for plants.

  • Kim D.
    on Jun 21, 2020

    I surely would if I had a yard of my own but we're hoping sooner. How are the kids and Kayla?

  • Ellis
    on Jul 1, 2020

    Does the stock tank have a seam on both sides? If not, I think I would put the seam on the back side, where it's less noticeable.

Join the conversation

3 of 39 comments
  • Bonita
    on Jun 22, 2020

    Rather than using chemicals to take off protective coat from steel and thereby causing it to rust through from rain and mud, just get a gray and tan spray paint, stand back and spray very thin, creating an aged dulled look. Dont need to always use chemicals for everything. Otherwise it looks very cute.

  • Elaine
    on Jun 22, 2020

    You need holes for drainage.

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