How do I make plastic look like galvanized steel?

At work one of the things we sell is flowers. We have them in black plastic flower buckets. Probably the same ones you’ve seen in every store you’ve been in that sells flowers.
The person who handles the flowers wants to ‘upgrade’ them. She’d like to replace them with galvanized steel buckets. We did some poking around with our floral suppliers and couldn’t find anything in the size we wanted/needed and, for the moment, the project is on the back burner.
My thought was, and still is, that I might be able to spray paint them. Rust-Oleum has metallic finishes and probably has one that’s pretty close. For four bucks it’s probably worth a shot, right?
I’m not going to get to the this project for at least a day or two so I was doing some research online on how to make plastic look like galvanized steel and was surprised that not only at the lack of posts saying ‘grab some rustoleum and spray paint it’ but just the lack of anything regarding this subject.

So, unless someone sees a hole in my plan, that’s what I plan to do. Grab some Rust-Oleum Metallic paint (whatever is closest to a galvanized steel look), make sure it bonds to plastic, and see what happens. We have plenty of buckets to spare, so that’s not a concern. My worry is that I’m just going to end up with buckets that look they’ve been spray painted silver. I don’t see anything on their page for a galvanized finish, but I’ll have to see when I get to Home Depot, what appears to be the closest. IME, the caps on the cans are usually pretty close.
Come to think of it, a silver metallic crackle or hammered finish might work or she might even go for an aged/distressed bronze look.

Also, this needs to be a quick project. I’m don’t want to be spending more than a few minutes handling each bucket, so, two coats each is fine. However, multiple coats with different types of paint, odd sanding routines between coats, cleaning with acetone…The closer this becomes to a pintrest project the more it becomes not worth it. Time is money when I’m at work.

Krylon Fusion Spray is supposed to bond to plastic, and they have a nice Satin Pewter Gray that could work.

Don’t go crazy, but just dry brush gray and white paint like below with big brushes and it should be fine.

ETA: Surprisingly, Rustoleum for Plastic doesn’t seem to have a lot of colors.

You probably don’t want to spend this kinda moolah, but you could look into champagne buckets, sorta like THIS ONE. Or maybe THIS ONE.

Just a thought.

Those are a bit pricey, but prices are different when we can find them from a distributor. However, the floral person has very a very specific size in mind, to short and they tip over, to wide and the flowers lean over and look silly. She really likes the ones we have now, that’s I thought about hitting them with a coat of spray paint to see what happens.

OK, one more suggestion and then I’m gonna sleep on it (never say die): Metal-look Contact Paper. Stainless Steel look instead of galvanized, but it might fly. I didn’t search too hard, there may be galvanized-looking CP.

<Joel> What do you think, sirs? <Joel>

I’ve used their Hammered Copper and Forge Hammered Bronze on PVC piping for steampunk projects before, and it gives a good look, I think the Forge Hammered Pewter may be the best to give you the look you want. Just be careful to use a very light touch, that stuff *doesn’t *look good when it drips and sets.

ETA - I had no problem with it bonding to both PVC and ABS plastics.

Just find the real galvanized ones elsewhere: Amazon carries a 15" one for $14.99 with prime shipping . They also have several others of various shapes and sizes

That, I know, won’t work. These buckets (at least some of them) are not only tapered, but often have two different tapers, so there’s really no good way to put something like that on that. At least not for someone non-crafty like myself.
Imagine trying to put it on something like this.

The flower person still doesn’t like the idea of painting them, but I don’t think she realizes how good it might look…and how much cheaper it’ll be. Next time I get to a Home Depot I’m going to see if they have something that’ll work. I floated the idea of hammered copper/Bronze and that was shot down, so I’ll have to see if they have anything resembling galvanized steel.

I’m not sure about that specific one, but I’ll keep the link since it pulls up lots of other ones in the related links in the bottom. One issue I see with that one is that it requires a liner if used with ‘fresh flowers’. Which means either it leaks, it rusts or the chemicals leech into the water and kill the flowers.
(I see one of the reviews says it leaks, so that’s probably the reason, but that certainly doesn’t imply that other ones leak, just that one).

My hobby requires me to paint plastic on a fairly regular basis. I don’t think the Rust-Oleum Metallic paint will bond well enough for your purposes. Do you intend to stack them for storage?

Yes, they will definitely get stacked when not in use. I see where you’re going and hadn’t thought of that…since I’m not looking to make huge project out of this, a clear coat that I’d have to keep up is probably more work than I’m interested in.

Also, they go stored in a cooler every night and come out every morning, so they condensate (up to the water level) during the summer. That’s probably not very helpful either.

I second Krylon Fusion. It’s made for plastic.

I suspect also if they don’t have a metallic you could do a layer of Fusion and then a layer of some other brand that does have a nice metallic.

Are you sure you want galvanized or just a shiny zinc plating? You can get galvanizing sprays at welding shops but the finish is just a dull gray instead of the speckled look of hot dipped galvanized metal.

Honesty, I’d just look a bit harder for metal buckets. By the time you’re done destroying the first one with paint, then patching up the constanty flaking finish of the others, you’ll have wasted as much money and time as you would have done getting the metal ones.

Here are the reviews for Krylon Fusion. They do mention several coats but none that I read mention paint flaking off.

If I may suggest: Buy a can or two of spray paint that is made for plastic (“HAMMERED” finish) and paint a few buckets. Then see how long they last before the paint gets damaged. At this point you can decide if it’s worth spray painting them.

Craft Store Supermarket AC Moore seems to have galvanized buckets and watering cans for a reasonable price.

I’m going to agree with a lot here and say just go for the real thing with liners.

Paint will never fool anyone, unless you intend on devoting a lot of time and stacking will cause problems in scratching the paint surface.