DIY Wall Art With Corrugated Metal

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Corrugated metal sheets in different colors transform into artwork.
Corrugated metal sheets in different colors transform into artwork. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Metal wall art is growing in popularity for both outdoor and indoor use. Corrugated metal, with its ridges, provides an extra depth of artistic potential to the creative do-it-yourself aficionado. There are different grades of corrugated metal; however, for wall art purposes, aluminum corrugated metal is the best option because it's lightweight and rust-proof. Aluminum is easier to bend, cut and mold into desired shapes than other metals, and it makes installation on a wall and long-term care less problematic. Tools can be found in a hardware store at the metal roofing or HVAC section.

Things You'll Need

  • Craft paper
  • Pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • Lightest grade aluminum corrugated metal sheet, colored
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Hearing protection
  • Sharp utility knife
  • Straight-cut snips
  • Portable profile shear
  • Electric or pneumatic shears
  • Electric nibbler
  • Light oil or soap
  • Heavy-duty metal drill
  • Screws
  • Construction-strength adhesive
  • Sealant tape or butyl caulking
  • Acrylic roofing paints, various colors
  • Mounting brackets and screws
  • Cold chisel
  • Mallet

Draw stencils of your design on craft paper with a pencil. Make separate stencils for design details such as eyes or leaves.

Lay the corrugated sheet on firm ground. Outline the largest stencil with permanent marker. Work from largest detail to smallest detail to transfer the stencil onto the corrugated metal.

Put on gloves, safety goggles and ear protection. Cut parallel to the sheet’s ribs by deeply scoring the panel with a sharp utility knife. Bend the metal back and forth repeatedly until the metal breaks off cleanly.

Cut across the metal’s ribs by using straight-cut snips, portable profile shear, electric or pneumatic shears or an electric nibbler.

Bend or roll the aluminum sheet gently to a maximum of 90 degrees. Never re-bend the metal nor fold it completely unto itself; a permanent crease will form and it can completely snap off.

Drill holes with a heavy-duty drill meant for metal. Screw pieces together. Or join cut-out details together with construction-strength adhesive.

Use sealant tape or butyl caulking for all side and end laps. Paint on details with acrylic roofing paints. Install artwork on a wall with proper mounts, such as brackets and screws; or simply place on a shelf propped against a wall.

Paint design details with acrylic roofing paints.
Paint design details with acrylic roofing paints. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tips & Warnings

  • Light oil or soap on the cutting edge can make cutting easier.
  • Screws are better than nails for easier pull-out—an important factor when adjusting artwork.
  • Flat pieces of different layers in contrasting directions play with light to make the art piece more dimensional.
  • A cold chisel and mallet can also score and cut the design out of corrugated metal.
  • Check all anchorage points periodically as they weaken over time.
  • Nibblers come as left- or right-hand tools.
  • A circular saw can cut faster but can also start edge rust earlier, if wall art is installed outdoors.
  • Edges can cut and injure. Keep out of reach of everybody.
  • Protect hearing, eyes and hands when using power tools.
  • Heavy types of corrugated metal should be cut by a welder for safety.
  • Avoid pushing shears quickly to prevent sharp, jagged edges.
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