amy merrickDIYdiy projectsmade with love

made with love: stripping tin

by amym

Kitchen counter space is in short supply in my apartment (I have about 10” total!) so I’ve been taking every opportunity to maximize wall space for storage. On the design*sponge team’s recent trip to Boston, I found an old wall mounted letter holder to store my kitchen utensils. While I loved the shape (and the little trim around the top) I was less enamored of the new yet dingy aqua paint job. While we all love to do to a good old-fashioned glossy paint job to hide a multitude of sins, sometimes it’s a refreshing change to instead reveal metal’s patina lurking underneath all that paint. –amy m.

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

To strip metal, you’ll need:

– nontoxic paint stripper

– gloves

– scraper and razor blade

– trash bag, tarp or newspapers for work surface

– paint brush

– metal polish

– clean rags


– old toothbrush

– medium grade steel wool

– finishing grade sandpaper

photo 2

1. Brush on paint stripped, following manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t forget to provide proper ventilation.

photo 3

2. Using scraper, remove paint after allotted time. With razor blade, carefully remove any residual paint. For curved or decorative edges like mine, I used an old toothbrush to remove paint from cervices.

photo 4

3. Remove all traces of stripper and if needed lightly scrub with steel wool to remove rust spots. Sand off any scratches.

photo 5

4. With a clean rag and polish.

photo 6

Suggested For You


  • Very cool – love the look of it! Are these steps only for tin – or other metals? How do you know if it’s tin or not?

  • I love Amy’s posts about old things/history. I’ve done a lot of stripping in my day (heehee).
    I love the way her little holder turned out. She brought it back to life and didn’t mess with it. Plain and simple and well done. Plus, beautiful little beaded trim on that thing. Lovely detail.

  • I have been avoiding my next big DIY- stripping paint off a metal cabinet- I had already decided to leave the metal “natural” underneath whatever I remove… so when you say “Polish” what do you mean? And also- I have gotten advice to seal the natural metal with a clear lacquer type product- thoughts? I am ready to go tackle the world now- or at least my project…

  • When i say polish- i mean, just using metal polish (available at any hardware store or grocery) with a rag as per the directions.

    It’s a must to seal metal with an oil based poly when it’s going to be exposed to water or humidity. Otherwise, it’s up to you!

    You can use the directions for all types of metal!

  • I like the idea of having a metal utensil holder like this on the kitchen wall. You could use magnets to post a recipe card to it while you’re cooking.

  • This project gives me hope! I’m mid-way through my own paint-stripping project, and to be frank, right now, it looks like a small mammal exploded inside a vintage medicine cabinet. Guh.

  • Definitely an improvement – well done! And I admire you taking such effort over a small detail like that – it makes such a difference and I’m so glad you cared enough!

  • I quite like the look of the stripped back plus painted front too, but I’m a sucker for distressed paintwork. I love the beaded edge on this… a very good find!

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.