How to Rust Corrugated Metal (Step-by-Step)

Corrugated metal is often designed to resist rusting, which is usually a beneficial feature. But if you’d like to corrode a corrugated metal sheet, this durability can pose a problem. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get your corrugated metal to rust.

Here’s how you can rust corrugated metal:

  1. Purchase corrugated metal panels.
  2. Clean and dry the corrugated metal.
  3. Scrape the surface of the metal sheeting.
  4. Apply a corrosive material.
  5. Let the metal dry.
  6. Wipe it down or seal it.

In this article, we’ll be exploring how to rust corrugated metal by breaking things down step-by-step. This way, you can achieve the rustic or aged look you desire as quickly and efficiently as possible. So without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Purchase Corrugated Metal Panels

As you might expect, the first thing you’ll need to do to rust corrugated metal is acquire some metal panels. However, this can be a little more challenging than it initially seems, especially when considering the multiple types of corrugated metal sheeting.

Types of Corrugated Metal

There are quite a few different types of metal used to make corrugated panels. But perhaps the three most common types of metal used for this purpose are:

It’s crucial to consider your chosen corrugated panel type when attempting to rust it. After all, galvanized and stainless steel options are designed to resist rust and corrosion. Therefore, if you purchase panels made out of these metals, you may struggle to see any rust formation.

As such, it’s often best to choose simple steel corrugated panels. Not only will you be able to achieve a more uniform and speedy rusting, but you might also save a little money.

2. Clean and Dry the Corrugated Metal

Before you can start working toward rust formation, you’ll want to clean your metal sheeting. Though this might seem counterintuitive, it’s crucial to remove any oil, grease, or dirt from the surface of your panels before using abrasive tools or substances.

That’s because oil and dirt can form a thin layer that makes it more challenging for your corrosive substances to penetrate the surface of your corrugated metal. Consequently, go ahead and fetch a clean bucket, some gentle dish soap, and a handful of clean bar towels.

Here are the steps to clean and dry corrugated metal:

  1. Fill the bucket up halfway with room-temperature water.
  2. Add a tablespoon or two of dish soap.
  3. Agitate the water to form suds, then dip a clean bar towel into the solution.
  4. Wipe down the surface of your corrugated metal sheet, making sure to keep the clean side facing upward.
  5. After rinsing away any remaining suds, use a dry and unused bar towel to dry it off.

When you’ve gotten every last drop, you can go ahead and begin scraping your panel.

3. Scrape the Surface of the Metal Sheeting

When your corrugated metal is free of dirt and grease, it’s time to start scraping. After all, even the most straightforward aluminum panels can be challenging to rust if they’re blemish-free.

To scratch up the surface of your metal sheet, you’ll need the right tool. Fortunately, you have plenty of options.

Let’s briefly explore each of these options in greater detail to help you choose the best tool for the job and your budget.

Steel Pad

A steel pad, the kind used to scour dishes, is one of the simplest tools you can use to scrape and scratch your corrugated metal panel. It’s also fantastically affordable and accessible, being available at most grocery and department stores.

However, a steel abrasive pad can also be challenging to hold, especially over an extended period. Even with a thick pair of gloves on, your hands may begin to ache after scrubbing with a steel pad. Of course, you could opt to use a wire brush instead.

Wire Brush

If you’d rather keep your arms away from exposed steel, you can scrap your panel with a firm metal wire brush. These come in several shapes and sizes, but you may want to choose one with a long brush head. That way, you can cover more areas in a shorter amount of time.

The Forney Wire Brush (available on Amazon) is an excellent example of a wire brush that can help scuff up your corrugated panel. It’s made of durably carbon steel bristles and features a unique curved handle.

Orbital Sander

A sanding block is fine, but an orbital sander could make short work of this step. It can rotate several hundred or thousand times per minute, applying a rapid pressure that even the strongest arms struggle to recreate.

If you’re rusting multiple panels, or you’d simply like to shorten this step, you’ll want to use an orbital sander. Still, if you don’t already own one, you might find this option a little out of your price range. After all, the average orbital sander can cost between $50 and $200.

4. Apply a Corrosive Material

When your corrugated metal is scuffed up, you’ll want to apply your corrosive material. Both highly acidic and alkaline substances are excellent at forming rust on metal surfaces. As such, you can use:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Baking Soda
  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice

However, it’s vital to note that some of these materials can become dangerous when mixed. For example, mixing bleach and hydrogen peroxide can lead to life-threatening explosions.

If you’d like to use multiple types of corrosive materials, you’ll want to stick with all-natural solutions. For example, you can safely apply a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice to a metal sheet. Sprinkling some baking soda on this liquid might even expedite the rusting process.

5. Let the Metal Dry

This is, by far, the easiest step of the rusting process. After applying your corrosive material or substances, you’ll want to sit back and wait for them to dry.

This step is crucial, as it’s typically when rust begins forming. You may need to wait anywhere between one day and a week before moving onto the next step. Be sure to check your corrugated metal often to check if it’s dry.

6. Wipe It Down or Seal It

Once the corrugated metal has completely dried, you can take a clean bar towel or thick wad of paper towels and wipe away any excess rust. If your panel hasn’t rusted as much as you’d like, you can repeat steps three through five until you’ve achieved your desired look.

But if you’re happy with the amount of rust formation you’ve got, you can go ahead and install your panel. Still, you may want to consider applying a sealant before installing the metal sheet, especially if you’re placing it outdoors.

Applying a Sealant

After removing any excess rust sitting on the surface of your corrugated metal, you can decide to go ahead and install it as-is or preserve its current appearance with a sealant. Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating is one of the easiest-to-use sealants, as it comes in a handy spray can.

If you’re installing your rusted metal outdoors, this spray can help protect it from UV damage. That’s a significant plus for those hoping to maintain their panel’s post-rusting appearance. Naturally, you can choose any sealant that best fits your preferences and project needs.


To rust corrugated metal, you’ll first need to acquire aluminum panels. After that, you’ll want to clean and dry your panels to prepare them for the scraping process.

From that point, you can apply your corrosive material and wait for rust to form. Finally, you’ll wipe away excess rust. If you’d like to preserve the look of your final product, you can also apply a matte sealant.

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