Last fall we got some great old rusted beat up sheet metal from a friend of ours who had replaced the roof on one of his barns. When we took it home I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it. After a little brainstorming I decided the rusty color would make for a great kitchen back-splash!
My first obstacle was figuring out how to make it cleanable. I love easy to maintain finishes so the prospect of having a back-splash in the Kitchen where it would likely get greasy and dirty, that I wouldn’t be able to just wipe with a Lysol wipe was not a good thought for me. I decided to try a swatch with a coating of clear polyurethane. A little bit of an unconventional finish for metal but for our purposes I thought It would work. I scrubbed some of the bigger chunks and generally smoothed the test swatch down using a wire brush. This left a lot of dust so I wiped it down with a damp rag and left it to dry. Once it had dried out I covered it with a coat of the clear poly and walked away.
What I discovered from the test swatch is that the metal was going to need a MUCH lighter coat than a piece of wood would need. The metal doesn’t absorb any of the coating like a piece of furniture would. After the poly had dried I loved the color even more. The clear coat deepened the rust color and took away some of the brighter reds and oranges. The wire brushing also really evened out the color and made the rusty parts more uniform.
Here is a step-by-step of what I did for the large pieces:
1. I had Doug’s help to measure the pieces and cut them. He is way handier than I am with a tape measure, tin snips and grinder! After the pieces were cut I first had to scrub them down with a wire brush.
You may want to wear a mask and gloves for this part. The rusty dust really starts to fly when you get to scrubbing on them with the wire brush!
2. Your next step after the pieces have been sanded and wiped down is to apply the clear Polyurethane. I like to use Minwax brand and I used a Satin finish. The finish is just personal preference. If you prefer a glossier look then go with a Gloss finish Polyurethane.
3. Your next step is installation. I let my pieces dry overnight before we hung them. Doug used some silver sheet metal screws because I liked the contrast, you could spray paint them any color you wanted if you didn’t like the silver color. Don’t forget to cut the holes for your outlets!