So, I've thought of using glue to stick pieces of cardboard together into a sword and then putting aluminum foil on it and painting it to look like it has rusted. Turns out, for paint to stick to aluminum you need to make sure there is no aluminum oxide and treat the aluminum. Paint won't stick to bare aluminum but acrylic paint is the best type of paint to use on aluminum. Is there any inexpensive metal foil for which I could just paint it on and not have to worry about treating the metal?

I want to get this type of color on the sword blade:

enter image description here

So you can see, there are some areas where I would be using black paint and others where I would be using orange paint and I think I might want to like do a whole layer of black paint and then after drying, put the orange paint on in another layer. But I don't want to go through the expensive process of getting rid of the aluminum oxide and treating the aluminum so is there an inexpensive metal foil that paint will actually stick to without treating the metal?

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    What role is the aluminum serving if you're planning to paint over it? Couldn't you peal the aluminum off of the portions which you want to be rusty and then paint over the exposed cardboard. Also, there are a lot more than two colors in that image. You are going to want to start with at least three colors: black, white and dark orange, then mix them together in different proportions to create lots of different shades. Then apply the many colors over a solid black coat using pieces of torn sponge to get the mottled effect. May 4, 2018 at 22:34
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    Will any of the shiny foil be unpainted and visible, or do you plan to fully cover the foil?
    – Erica
    May 7, 2018 at 1:58
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    Perhaps a different material is in order. You might be able to fight a big enough piece of balsa wood at a hobby store, which can be cut fairly easily, and is a little more durable than cardboard. Then all you need to worry about is priming the wood.
    – user24
    May 7, 2018 at 4:54

3 Answers 3


Do you mean paint won’t stick to aluminum foil? Because any two-component epoxy based paint will stick to aluminum and aluminum foil. But I think your approach is flawed from the get go. You should look into the way cosplayers build swords. They have a skeleton-like frame (sometimes a solid wood dowel) underneath the sheathing which is very often a type of foam matt like you would find at a camping store for underneath a sleeping bag or a type like that which is used for yoga. They cut shapes and glue them together, perhaps even screwing them to the dowel, paint them, apply decals from model kits etc. The videos can be quite entertaining.

  • Well my approach would give a more metallic sheen if only I could figure out how to make metallic paint out of non-metallic paint(the only paint I have is not metallic so I basically have the color - metallic sheen). And when I looked up painting aluminum foil, nothing came up about using epoxy based paint, they all said that acrylic is the best paint to use and that paint won't stick permanently on bare aluminum foil and that if you want it to stick, you have to treat the metal and make sure there is no oxide on the aluminum.
    – Caters
    May 7, 2018 at 1:28
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    Why not buy metallic paints? Get rid of the foil - and the need to find a solution for painting over it - and build your sword using materials mentioned in this answer or other answers or some of the comments.
    – Joachim
    Jan 25, 2019 at 12:14

You can buy steel foil (US, UK examples) then paint your rust onto that. If you can get one that's not stainless (they exist) you can make it rust. Even stainless can be rust-stained in wet contact with mild steel (food cans, steel wool). Self-adhesive versions (steel foil tapes) exist too.

Otherwise I'd paint the blade using metallic paint, before applying the rust-effect paint job.


To continue with your current design, without changing the materials used for the original construction, I would recommend finding a suitable spray paint.

Some spray paints are specifically designed to stick to metal surfaces, and you could find one of these in a color and sheen suitable to your project (dark brown, or black, with whatever level of shine you desire).

You should be able to paint with acrylics on top of a spray painted surface without too much trouble. I suggest using a natural sea sponge to create the rust effect. The natural shape of the sponge will help keep the rust from looking too manufactured.

You can find spray paint at a wide range of home improvement and craft stores. A quick search on the Home Depot's website turns up many options under $5, so the solution you are looking for should be fairly inexpensive.

Home Depot page with spray paints, sorted by color and surface type specific to your project

  • You sure these metal spray paints will stick to aluminum foil? Because I thought the only 2 options to stick with aluminum foil while using acrylic paint were to either chemically treat the aluminum to get rid of the oxide layer or to use epoxy paint. I doubt I have the equipment for chemical treatment of aluminum and as much epoxy as I would need to paint with it is expensive. And it would be time consuming because I would have to wait for the epoxy to not be so liquidy on the outside before painting the next layer and I'm sure that takes hours, if not overnight.
    – Caters
    Jan 10, 2019 at 16:20
  • They are advertised to adhere to metal, but there is a chance they could flake off if the surface you've made is incredibly smooth. If you are nervous about using them, you can always buy a more expensive spray paint, intended for use on automobiles. For any material, it is best to do a test before applying it to a full project or large area. Jan 10, 2019 at 16:28

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