I really wanted to share a project success today, but not all DIY projects end in success. Some are met with failure and frustration. I am going to tell you what I am struggling with in hopes that if you are experiencing similar setbacks you will know your not alone. And, just maybe, one of you craftier than me will know the solution to my dilemma.

First, lets start with a decorating success story. If you follow me on Facebook you know I picked up these cute grellow trellis lamp shades during a sale at Target. At the time I did not like any of the available lamp bases. Finally, last week patience paid off and I spotted these adorable glass lamp bases at Target (not sure if they are new or were out of stock before).

Target Trellis Lampshade

They remind me of bubbles. I love how they look in my studio. The glass doesn’t detract at all from my pretty bamboo counter. The petite lamps fit nicely under the shelf brackets.  I put one on each end of the counter.  These lamps will give me extra task light when working in my studio after dark.

Craft Room Task Lighting

Now onto the bad. See those silver things? So, I bought the Fintorp rails on my Ikea shopping trip along with the galvanized steel cutlery caddies. I did not want the galvanized steel look in my office, but these were the cheapest option. I figured I could spray paint them whatever color I wanted. Simple, right? Maybe that is why this is so frustrating.

Ikea Fintorp in craft room

I was wrong. Spray painting most things is simple, but you cannot spray paint galvanized steel. Something about the paint reacts with the zinc in galvanized steel. Long story short, the paint does not adhere to the galvanized steel. Boo.

No worries…I figured I am resourceful, so I moved on to plan B. I was sure Rub N Buff would work. Unfortunately, my local craft store does not carry it in brass, and I am inpatient. I opted for antique gold instead, hoping to still pull off an antique brass look. Sadly, the it didn’t seem to adhere very well to the galvanized steel either. It worked well in some spots and turned out very splotchy in others. Boo.

So my pursuit for brass utensil holders continues. I would love to know if you have any ideas that might work. Have you ever gotten something in galvanized steel you planned to spray paint only to find out the hard way it doesn’t work?



In just 15 minutes a day for 5 days, you can refresh one room. Without spending a dime.

Start your free 5-day Decorating Do Over Challenge and get exclusive sneak peeks of my book Free Decorating.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

32 Responses to Brass Trials

  1. Christy says:

    Have you thought about wrapping them in a metallic paper? or wrapping them in a metallic fabric?

  2. Sarah says:

    Huh, I had NO idea you couldn’t paint it! How frustrating. I hope you find a solution.
    PS Love the lamps!

  3. Kate P says:

    Last time I was at Ikea I spotted the bins in white and green as well. They may not be the color you had in mind but maybe it’s easier to paint the buckets if they’ve already been painted? Good luck!

  4. Michelle says:

    Maybe try to cover it with fabric or something you can paint over?

    • Jackie says:


      That is a great idea. I have covered buckets with fabric and mod podge before. I might have to look for a fabric I like.

  5. Marcie says:

    I like the steel. They blend in as to not take away from the rest of the fabulous you have going on.

  6. Robin O says:

    New to your blog – I like your taste. :)

    Just this week, I covered a small galvanized bucket in fabric with Mod Podge. I’m using it as a small trash in my newly renovated laundry room. (Since it’s up on a shelf, I didn’t just want an icky ol’ trash can up there.) Someone else mentioned this too and looks like you’ve tried it before as well. Isn’t it such a super fast project with a great result? Definitely think that may be your answer for these little caddies.

  7. Lisa says:

    I’m liking the steel look as well, but brass would be fun. I’m starting to get into brass even though I was fighting it in the beginning.

  8. What about gold foiling them?

  9. Jessica says:

    We make galv items at our engineering workshop (like trailers etc)
    I may be worth a try to first prime the tins (with a specific metal primer- probably at a hardware store rather than a craft store)And then also make sure that your spray paint is metal grade.
    We use Agricultural grade paint, mixed with a bit of piant thinners and used with a spray gun, after priming.
    But, I have to also mention, I would the steel look, and would prefer that over any gold/brass result. Theres something royally beautiful about blue & silver :)

  10. Jessica says:

    oops, wrong word! I *LOVE the steel look :)

  11. I have had the same problem in the past…If it helps the silver does look pretty good in contrast with the blue walls.

  12. Kelly McK says:

    Truth be told… I think the steel looks pretty great!

  13. Suzy B says:

    I agree with others…kind of like buckets in silver.
    Looks good with wall color & white accents.

  14. Gwen says:

    Sorry. I’m no help either. I had trouble getting chalkboard paint to stick to silver tray even after sanding. Everyone else has no problem!! I think brass is much pricier than what you have so maybe like them until you can get the real thing? If brass little pots/pails are even made, I don’t know! I find that in design we are often limited to what is available! Sorry :-{

  15. Gwen says:

    Out of curiosity I googled brass buckets so maybe try that?? But I’m not so trusting of sites I’ve never heard of…but there was one but bucket ran $8

  16. jessvii says:

    According to a Sept. 16, 2009, article, Krylon’s H20 Latex spray paint will cover galvanized steel. It’s available at Ace Hardware and online. A link to the full article is here:

    That being said, you could leave them as is because the steel looks nice, or you could adorn them with ribbon, buttons, or another fun accent and a hot glue gun.

  17. Alison says:

    Can you put a layer of Modge Podge on the buckets first? If you can, then spray paint it the color you want. Hopefully that will add a layer between the galvinized steel and the paint. Good Luck!

  18. Diane says:

    I’m loving how your office-studio-“play”room is turning out. You’ve only mentioned painting the buckets. Were you planning to keep the rods, brackets and hangers steel, or paint them too? I’m all for mixing metals, but in this case only the buckets in brass I think that would be too much of a mix since they are a cohesive unit.

    I’d like to see the buckets covered in fun fabrics or papers. Just my style, but I would want to keep the silver lip and raised band and do two different patterns, one for above and one for below the raised band.

    • Jackie says:


      Thanks for the ideas. I was planning to keep the rails and holders silver with brass buckets. I thought it would be a bit nautical looking to have the mixed metals. The steel is growing on me and everyone seems to like them the way they are. I am definitely leaning towards fabric covered or just adding some colorful labels. I was originally thinking brass would add a warm tone, but I think the bamboo counter is filling that role nicely.

  19. Jesse says:

    I once had this question myself! I read this article: http://diynovice.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/spray-painting-galvanized-metal/

    That guy was going to paint some of those steel ikea lanterns, and the same thing happened. Ended up using Krylong H2o latex paint….. says it worked. Good luck!

  20. Lauren H says:

    Can’t wait to see the finished space- love your studio so far. BTW- Came across this post on Craftaholics Anonymous FB page about painting galvanized metal:

  21. Kim says:

    I used a large sheet of galvanized metal in my mud/laundry room to make a magnetic chalk board. First, I wiped down the metal with lemon juice (vinegar might also work) to neutralize the acid. I was told to do this to prevent any paint peeling. I did this in the warmer months and left it in the sun to dry. I followed up with chalkboard paint (no primer was used.) It covered in 2 coats and worked great. Hope this helps.

  22. heidi says:

    To tell you the truth, this is the first post of yours I’ve read! I found you on iheartorganizing. So, not totally sure of your style yet, but what about wrapping the buckets in jute string for a natural element? (that could err on the side of nautical couldn’t it?)

  23. Jenn says:

    I think if you used STIX primer, make sure it says that it adheres to galvanized metal on the can, that would work. Follow it up with your paint and enjoy.

  24. Mary says:

    Clean galvanized metal well with a solution of ammonia and water. Rinse well. This removes the protective oil coating.
    Wipe entire surface with white vinegar to neutralize the metal. Let it dry completely. You can then paint the galvanized metal.
    Advice is from a house painter who was hired to paint a galvanized metal roof)

  25. Tess says:

    I recently spray painted galvanized steel pipes to be used as the legs of an outdoor coffee table. To be honest, I did NOT do all the steps they advise and they still look spectacular! Here are the steps I followed:

    – removed stickers from pipes
    – make sure there isn’t any gunk leftover (although by the end of it, I didn’t really care)
    – at this point, technically I was supposed to clean with mineral spirits to de-oil….I skipped that step because I was lazy : /
    – prime with self-etching spray paint (found in the same spray paint section, it’s used for car painting apparently)
    – spray with chosen spray paint, I chose a rustoleum high-gloss in a plum color but that’s just preference
    – I also sealed with a polycrylic spray paint but that was purely to get it really shiny–don’t know how much it did in the way of sealing it off to the elements!

    Hope this helps!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *