Distressed Metal

Metal Sheets Limited has a department specialising in patina development, distressed sheet metal and rustic finishes such as aged copper sheet, aged brass sheet, aged zinc sheet, aged pewter sheet and rusted Corten steel sheet. This is a selection from the range……

We use chemical and mechanical means to distress sheet metal to obtain an aged appearance. We produce aged brass, aged copper and aged zinc. Thumb nails of some are shown below, large images and extended range can be found on the Patina Pictures page

What is distressed sheet metal?

Distressed sheet metal is metal that appears aged and worn with the newness taken away. Discoloured, corroded, rusted, the sheet could be dinted or scratched. Ostensibly it is sheet metal with a patina which has an aged antique appeal. Patina develops on metal in nature through cycles of rain and sun. For this to happen indoors the metal temperature must drops below dew point to create a damp film. Subsequent warming above dew point dries the metal, this is a similar effect to being outside. Outdoors though pollution and salt air by the coast accelerate the process.

Patina Laboratory

Waiting for a distressed aged antique finish to happen naturally would take a long time, too long. We have a patina development studio where we work to achieve aged patina finishes in the laboratory. Special patinas are developed for clients who have an idea in mind, we interpret and transfer it to metal. We designed a distressed rusted galvanised steel sheet for Newlook fashion shops, these were used in their denims displays.

newlook rust
distressed sheet metal

After development, patina ageing processes are passed to our production studio ready for production runs.

We distress tabletops, bar tops and many other products that we make and the metal sheets that we sell, we do aged copper sheets, aged brass sheets, aged zinc sheets. Corten steel & Galvanised steel are rust patinated. Pewter and bronze are aged like they would naturally. A recent development is a rustic blackened steel patina that we apply to Corten steel.

Patina Aged Copper Sheet

Distressed aged copper sheet is quite popular, we have 12 variations, these can be seen on the patina pictures page.

We have browns representing naturally aged copper. Blue copper, Green copper and Verdigris options showing copper as it could appear after 10 years in the elements. The natural progression of colours for copper ageing outdoors starts with light browns then passes through to darker and darker browns then to black and finally to green after maybe 10 years.

Bespoke Wall Tiles designed, made and aged by Metal Sheets Ltd:

distressed aged copper wall tiles

distressed aged verdigris copper
Distressed Verdigris Copper Top

Patina Aged Brass Sheet

Aged brass sheet patina has four options that show brass progressing in stages from light aged to an antique finish. Brass allowed to age naturally outdoors progresses through shades of brown to black its final colour. A bespoke distressed aged brass patina was applied to a chimney breast feature:

Distressed Brass Hood
Distressed Aged Brass Hood

Patina Aged Zinc Sheet

Naturally aged zinc sheet ends up as a mid-grey colour in the long term. We have 4 options, one is a light patina which is similar to a naturally aged zinc colour. The other darker zinc patinas were developed for the interior design market. As an example of a one off bespoke design for a customer, a patchwork zinc table top with nails and custom rustic aged zinc patina was applied:

zinc distressed table top
Patchwork Zinc Table Top

Patina ageing on Other Metals Sheets

Other metals we distress, and patina are Pewter & Bronze which only have one patina option which is like a naturally aged metal. With Corten steel and galvanised steel we apply the rust distress finish. We can vary shade of rust. Corten steel ageing in nature passes through many colour changes starting with orange, then progressively through shades of brown ending up with a deep chestnut brown after several years.

rusted corten sign
Rusted Corten Sign
Distressed blackened steel
Bespoke Patina: Rustic Blackened Corten Steel

Patina Process Notes

The patina process is artisan in nature, each piece we make is unique. There are many variables including the person tasked with job. The application technique, the chemicals used, even the season of the year can cause variation. As such it is practically impossible to get two pieces of aged sheet metal the same. This all adds to uniqueness which is a USP. The patina images displayed we say are typical. Differences in the patina between the work supplied and any sample should not be considered as manufacturing defects. This is as a feature of the hand processing which is susceptible to variances in colour and uniformity.

We do many statement pieces and wall hangings. For one client we created a triptych of blue aged copper, each piece framed and hung side by side to create a great looking piece of wall art. Each frame showing copper and blue tones in random patterns, the whole display accented with up lighting.

Post Patina Wax or Lacquer

Patina aged metals can be treated with Renaissance wax, Bee’s wax, or clear lacquer. This depends upon the end use and customers specification.

Wax gives a more natural appearance, it can be maintained by periodically reapplying and polishing off. (With a soft microfiber soft edged cloth). For a wall hanging or décor item not frequently handled the appearance should remain constant. Alternatively the patina we have applied can be used as a starting point in the aging process. Frequent handling creates more patina and items becomes more rustic. This is often the case with our tabletop and bar top installs. The maintenance in such cases is washing with soapy water followed by drying and maybe the reapplication of wax.

Many copper, brass and zinc bar tops and tabletops are just washed and dried. More patina develops, variations develop between areas of high and low use but the whole thing just blends to become lived in and rustic. See this picture of a natural copper bar top in Wetherspoons, it looks the part.

Wetherspoons Copper Bar


Alternative to waxing is clear lacquering. We have two lacquers, one we use for items with high traffic like tabletops, the other lacquer for decorative items.

Lacquer affects the visual appearance to a degree, obviously because it is clear paint on top of the patina. It can slightly brighten the substrate patina colour which can be a good thing. It is all part of the customer’s choice. Again, being a paint, traffic across the lacquer can cause scuffs.

Aged copper with Verdigris, green copper or blue copper patinas are only supplied with a lacquer finish. The patina has a surface texture and needs to be sealed with several coats of lacquer.

Aged Corten steel rust patina has a light texture. If used indoors for decorative effect and people could brush against it, sealing is recommended to avoid patina transfer to clothes. We usually lacquer, but beeswax could be used though this does darken the tone. Outdoors Corten patina continues to develop through shades of brown into a chestnut brown. This takes many years of exposure to the elements. Blackened steel must be lacquered to preserve the appearance.

The colour tones of the patina images on our web pages can vary between different display monitors and screens.


Aged brass sheet, aged copper sheet and aged zinc sheet. For cleaning and maintenance only use a soft cotton or soft edged microfiber cloth. Dampen with warm water or neutral products that you would typically use to clean varnished surfaces. Do not use abrasive cloths, kitchen cleaning products, solvents, or strong detergents. Dry the surface thoroughly if there is standing water. Renaissance Wax or Beeswax polish can be used reseal unlacquered patina finishes. We can supply these waxes if required.