Chipped Painted Metal Faux Finish How-To, The "Route 66" Look

Old weathered painted metal objects like a vintage road sign, or a abandoned car, or an enameled coffee pot, or even a zombie containment pod have a very unique patina. They have those specific areas of chipped or peeled paint, unlike wood or other surfaces, that just tell you at first glance it's made of steel.

Designer Ken Wingard and I worked together recently on a retro marquee sign wall prop DIY project that although was actually made of wood, had a vintage metal faux finish treatment that sold it as the real deal. It's a super simple trick I picked up from a scenic artist I worked with many years ago.

Here's how to do it. Four easy steps. I'm nicknaming it the "Route 66" look.

Step 1 - Base coat your prop in a dark brown or similar dark rusted aged metal color paint. Go thick with. Once brushed on, pounce it, creating a more textured surface. Let dry completely.

Step 2 - Pour ordinary grocery store salt over the areas on your prop you want to look aged (for this project we used heavier coarse ground salt, but finer ground would work too). For vertical portions, you can defy gravity and make a paste of salt and water and brush on.

Step 3 - Spray paint your prop the color of choice. Let dry.

Step 4 - Brush away salt. You can leave rough edges of paint infused salt or refine the faux finish with some sand paper. Any overall dusty haze the salt leaves easily wiped away with a damp rag or sponge.

There ya go. An easy way to give your props a fairly realistic aged painted metal look.


  1. awesome! prop masking resourcefulness never ceases to amaze me

  2. Can't wait to try this out! Thanks for the tip for those of us who love those old-looking signs but can't afford the real thing.

  3. awww, so easy and the effect looks brilliant

  4. That looks amazing. I have not tried the salt yet but I will next time. I can't wait to make some more signs! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Great work Dave, It looks extraordinary and I'll will also going to try this for my home walls,New way,New thinking. Thank You for sharing this blogpost!

  6. Wow great job on the seats ! and thats just terrible what the action did.happy halloween images