How To “Rust” Steel Posts – Fast!

Apr 26, 2023 | distressed effects

ramble weathered postsWhen Ramble Outdoors, Inc. approached us about painting camp locator numbers on two dozen, 4 ft steel posts, we assumed the job would entail the usual painting process: prepping surfaces, a base-coat primer, two color coats, then the final painted numbers. Standard procedure. And, that’s pretty much what it was until Ramble asked if we could “weather” the posts to appear rusted. A different beast altogether. We set about learning how to rust steel posts – fast!

Of course, Brian, who never shirks from a challenge, dove into the opportunity to expand his knowledge and sign services. Even though he had already tackled a small “rusting” project years ago, the sheer size and number of steel posts in this order was daunting. It would require some research and processing information.

Let the rusting begin…

weathered posts for ramble outdoorsTurns out, there are just three ingredients necessary to start the rusting chain reaction: 1) humble vinegar, 2) hard-working hydrogen peroxide, and, 3) common table salt. As acids, the combination of peroxide and vinegar activates the rusting process. Then, the table salt hastens the reaction. In fact – and to our amazement – the rusting happened in a matter of hours.

Here’s how it’s done: First, Brian sprayed a layer of vinegar on the posts. Then, when that dried, he sprayed a solution of vinegar, peroxide and salt in three to four passes on groups of three posts. To encourage future rusting, he did NOT clear coat the posts.

Solution amounts: first pass is just the vinegar. Second pass: 16 oz (3%) hydrogen peroxide, 2 oz. white vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon salt, combined in an ordinary spray bottle. Spray until it’s gone, or for three to four passes. Make more if necessary and repeat. Then, sit back, relax, take a nap, or have lunch until it dries… that’s it! No wiping. No fussing.

The entire process was straight forward, safe and effective. What’s more, Ramble Outdoors loved the finished product. The hardest part was waiting for the posts to dry. And, the shop smelled like a pickling factory for a day or so, but it was a refreshing departure from our usual eau de paint.

Ramble Outdoors, Inc.

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