How to Paint Fake Rust

Updated November 21, 2016

Rust is often associated by homeowners with the unwanted deterioration of metal furniture or appliances that are stored outdoors on patios or decks. Adding a faux-worn look to a new decorative object, however, can also give it a literally "rustic" appearance and can add charm and a feeling of history to an indoor or outdoor space. While the most authentic way to give a metal object a rusted look is to expose it to the environment over a long period of time, paint can also be used to simulate the same effect on almost any material.

Spread newspaper on your work surface to catch paint splatters. Position the object to be painted on the newspaper.

Tape over any areas of the object where paint is not wanted with painter's masking tape.

Apply a coat of primer to the object with a paintbrush. Allow the primer to dry for 1 to 2 hours, depending on the manufacturer's instructions, then apply a second coat of primer.

Sprinkle sand across the surface of the object while the primer is still wet. Allow the primer to dry thoroughly. Shake off any excess sand that did not adhere to the primer.

Apply dark brown paint to the object. Dip a paintbrush into the paint and dab the paint on with the tips of the bristles only. Do not cover the entire surface of the object with dark brown paint--apply it randomly to create a mottled look. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly.

Apply light brown paint to the areas on the object not covered by dark brown paint. Dab the paint on in the same manner as described in Step 5. Allow this coat of paint to dry thoroughly.

Mist the surface of the object lightly with water and dab blue-grey paint randomly across the surface of the object with the tips of the paintbrush bristles. Allow the water and paint to dry.

Dip the paintbrush into dark orange paint. Tap the handle of the brush on the object to spatter the paint randomly, or use your fingers to bend the bristles back and then release them if you prefer. Allow the paint to dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Painter's tape
  • Paintbrush
  • Primer
  • Sand
  • Dark brown paint
  • Light brown paint
  • Water
  • Blue-grey paint
  • Dark orange paint
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About the Author

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.