DIY Stencils and How To Paint a Galvanized French Flower Bucket

November 19, 2014

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 hydrangeas Seamless grainsack pillow

Today I'm incorporating my Friday Finds: Classic Edition post with a tutorial on how to paint a galvanized French flower bucket and how to make your own stencils. 

When I first found this tall, oversized, galvanized bucket with copper handles at Goodwill,I was ecstatic. For all of $2.99 I was able to bring home something that meshes so well with my love of all things rustic-vintage-industrial-French-farmhouse style. Yes, I actually just said that.

galvanized French flower bucket

True to form, I didn't know what I was going to use it for. I only
knew that I WOULD use it. It's incredibly tall, measuring 18 inches. I initially used it to corral my long rolls of wrapping and craft paper. I also had visions of using it for an umbrella stand. But lately I began to envision it with some sort of stencil on the side of it, perhaps serving some grander purpose.

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 stencil

Never having painted anything made of galvanized metal, I turned to Google for some help. But all I got was confused. That's because there's been some debate about the best way to do it, i.e., which paint is best, whether or not to prime and/or sand first, etc.  Apparently galvanized metal can be fickle when it comes to having the paint actually adhere to it. That's because galvanized metal is coated with a protective layer of zinc. The zinc protects it from rust and corrosion that can result from exposure to the elements. Personally I prefer the rust, but that's just me. 

Here are just a few examples of some methods I came up with in my search:

1. Etching primer/latex paint. Etching primer?

2. Vinegar/primer/paint.

3. {Miss Mustard Seed says to use} 
crackle medium/acrylic or latex paint/glaze.
Crackle medium? Glaze?

4. Acrylic latex spray paint.
I pretty much threw up my hands at this point and went
full speed ahead with some of my home made stencils
and acrylic craft paint. I mean, what did I have to lose?

galvanized bucket
clear contact paper
acrylic craft paint
painter's tape
X-acto knife

Here's my homemade "N" stencil, taped to the bucket with painter's tape. It's really important that you line up your stencils first and make sure the spacing is right. You can always use store-bought stencils or a Silhouette, but I prefer to make my own. I got my favorite free alphabet template from

I use this font for just about all my stenciling projects, but you can
certainly use whatever alphabet font you prefer.

You can see how I used it for my burlap farmhouse table runner and
Once you download the alphabet, you just print out the letters
and/or numbers you need for your project and
trace them onto transparent contact paper.
Here are my printed-out letters and number.

And here is the transparent contact paper I picked
up at Wal-Mart. It comes in a roll.

You need to place your printed-out letter UNDERNEATH the
contact paper so you can see it through the contact paper.
After tracing it, with a self-healing cutting board underneath, 
use an X-acto knife to cut out all the "inner" spaces of the 
letter to create the stencil. Here's what the "N" looked like 
after I traced it onto the contact paper.

And here is my homemade "N" stencil after I cut it out.

And that brings us back to where you tape the stencil onto the bucket with painter's tape. You could also peel the backing off the contact paper and stick the stencil right onto your project, but I prefer to tape it so that I can use the stencil again and again.

Here's the stencil after I painted it in with my black acrylic craft paint.

I continued in this fashion for the "O" and the "5" stencils,
and the result was exactly what I had hoped for.

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 Seamless grainsack pillow

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 stencil

I had no trouble getting the paint to adhere. If I had wanted less
of a "vintage" look I might have done another coat or two, but
overall I think it looks great. I should note here that I don't intend
to use this bucket outside, so I'm not concerned with what the elements might do to the paint. I also didn't use any type of primer or sealant. If you're painting something for outside use you might want to look further into what type of paint might be best as well as what sealant will withstand your weather conditions.  

I loved the look even more when I filled it with some dry hydrangeas, turning it into what an authentic vintage French flower bucket might look like.

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 hydrangeas Seamless grainsack pillow

In the photo below you can see my fall/Thanksgiving pumpkin decorations still on the foyer table.  As it gets closer to Christmas I can't wait to share with you what I have planned for this French flower bucket!

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 hydrangeas Seamless grainsack pillow

But for now I just love how it turned out.

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 hydrangeas Seamless grainsack pillow

Have you started decorating for Christmas yet?
I know that some people wait until the day after Thanksgiving,
 while others start before. I think I'll be one of those people who
starts a bit early, since I plan on participating in a
Christmas blog hop starting next week.

Well, that's it until next time, friends! 
I hope you enjoyed reading about my
DIY Stencils and How To Paint 
a Galvanized French Flower Bucket.

Don't forget to Pin it!

galvanized French flower bucket No. 5 hydrangeas Seamless grainsack pillow

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Leave a Comment!

Unknown said...

Pretty cool have an idea as to what to do with mine. Never thought of using contact paper!


Carol, The Answer Is Chocolate said...

You have the BEST Goodwill! $2.99? And as always what you did w/ it...fantabulous!

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

Great job and you know I love the hydrangeas too! I've stenciled several galvanized buckets and they always turn out really nice. Most of them have been for sale and since I don't know how people plan on using them, I lightly spray them with a clear acrylic sealer usually in a satin finish. No decorating yet, I'm always late, lol.

Poet, Detachment Mom, and Navy Wife said...

I've always wondered how to make my own stencils!

Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

that is fantastic! Both the look and the price.

Anonymous said...

This is so pretty! The dried Hydrangeas are gorgeous and such a fabulous addition to this bucket! Another great find and update! Thanks for the tutorial!

The Speckled Hen Cottage said...

Great find on the tall can, the stenciling really makes it!!! Thanks for the tutorial, LOL...I just love it when someone else gets the bugs worked out. Very handy to know to use the self-healing mat!!!

Mila said...

Looks awesome.Pinning!

must love junk said...

LOVE this!! :)

The Charm of Home said...

That is really cute! Thanks for sharing!

Diana said...

Great tutorial, Kathleen. I'm on vacation in Pittsburgh and just bought a small, oval galvanized tub. Maybe I'll stencil it...

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