Brushed Steel Finish on Cheap Metal Baskets

Remember the old locker baskets I saw at the antique fair? Well, I found these cheap shiny ones at Target’s “Dollar Spot” and couldn’t resist. I have a thing for baskets and bins as anyone who has visited my home can probably tell. I don’t always have an immediate use for them, but storage comes in handy, especially with Twin Tornadoes who seem to need more stuff than should be humanly possible.

For $5 each, these metal locker baskets were super inexpensive, especially considering their size. They’re a perfect fit for the closet shelf where I needed just a little more craft storage. As handy as they are, I didn’t like the plain shiny finish. They looked blah. I like old things with lots of weathering.

BLAH. See my wax brush at the bottom? 

There are numerous techniques for getting a faux aged look on cheap, shiny metal (Clorox toilet cleaner, vinegar baths, special rust creating products etc.). I’ve recently tried the vinegar method on a cheap galvanized metal pitcher from Hobby Lobby (seen on top of my china cabinet here). The vinegar method is easy and has less potential for caustic dangers than some other methods, but it takes time. I spent an entire afternoon moving a vinegar-soaked rag around that pitcher to get the splotchy, aged look for which I was going.

I wanted something faster and more like a brushed steel finish this time around. So I turned to my trusty paint cart. Using a small wax brush (it has more dense bristles for broad, even coverage) I lightly dry brushed matte black paint in circles. Dry brushing involves barely wetting your brush. Either lightly dip the tip into the paint or wipe off most excess on a paper plate before applying to your surface.

The black paint instantly added some age to the baskets, but it wasn’t enough. I did the same thing with some antique wax which gave a little bit more of a rusty look. When applying this finish remember that LESS IS MORE. You can always add more to achieve the look you want. Work in light layers. After I brushed in circles, I dabbed around the edges with the black paint and kept playing around with the layers until it looked right. Each one is a little different which is perfect; weathered pieces are perfect in their unique imperfections.


In just a couple minutes these locker baskets looked like they’ve been around for years.



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