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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all!
I'm building a laboratory-style room with white tile walls and a basic sink with a pump attached to circulate red water.
Does anyone have an idea what would be a good technique to make the tiles and sink look old and dirty? As if the laboratory had been abandoned for many decades.
It would be important for the old look to be permanent, even if people touch it. Also, the water flowing in the sink should not remove it.

Maybe someone has an easy technique to use?

Thanks!!!
 

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Coffee grounds work well, so does a wash of very diluted brown paint. Paint it on where you think it would naturally accumulate, then spray water over it to make it run.
 

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Typical Ghoul Next Door
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If it is a permanent fixture, then definitely paints, but using a slow build up/wipe off type of layered approach.

The following is NOT an expert opinion, but I work with paints IRL, so this is an educated guess that may be workable for what you want and others that have real experience may chime in with better suggestions. At least you could experiement now and see if any of this helps get you where you need to go? :)

First step would be to find some good reference photos of real surfaces you want to try to recreate so you can see where the surface is showing through, and where the dirt/gunge has built up and make note of the colors that look good for your area. That's going to be the key to getting the look you want. Use the images as a guide both for placement and color.

You didn't say if this is real tiles (ceramic/porcelain) or simulated using carved foam boards (in which case do not use spray paint enamel since it will erode foam).

So spray enamel paints are a bit more work/fuss, but likely better for real ceramic/porcelain tiles. Acrylics (see the attached video) watered down and sprayed are the best for foam/wood.

You could try using not as watered-down acrylic paint on real tiles, but it will not bond and real scratching/scrubbing will peel the acrylic/latex off hard surfaces (acrylic and latex paints are a polymer suspension that dries into a layer of basically plastic but won't bond to ceramic/tiles/metal surfaces like enamels would). It is water proof tho once it is dry, so would be fine to paint/distress the tiles and sink areas.

Use gloves and wear old clothes, and work in smaller sections to achieve the best results. Suggest using several different colors (light brown, rust color, black/browns/gray). Will also need solvent (Mineral spirits or turpentine) if using enamels and cloths/paper towels/sponges (both for blotting/working on the overall look and for cleanup) and sand paper or metal scrubby pads to remove/knock down the textures in places to give it a weathered/used look.

Do not do any of this on surfaces in a home you live in, or would get into trouble for damaging. And do not do this in an enclosed space without proper respiratory gear, gloves and old clothing/protective gear that covers skin (for the spray painting/solvent use).

^nice example of using acrylic paints to do distressing/aging effect. If you're using enamels, just remember this is much more permanent (oil based) so you need to work with it while it's wet and it gets sticky/tacky FAST, so do TEST working with it in a small area until you get the hang of the look you want (and use gloves at minimum). I imagine using a cloth lightly dampened with paint cleaner/remover and blotting areas to knock down the area and create texture, a little area at a time.

Acrylic/latex paints are both relatively safe if you get it on your skin it can be washed off with water while wet, but do be careful if you're not used to working with paint and do your best to monitor your breathing and minimize skin contact if only to not stain your skin with paint. ;)

If you use acrylic paint on real tiles/sink, this is easier, but you may want to reverse the application method for actual tile and non-pourous surfaces. I suggest using a paint brush with thick (don't water it down at all) paint, and brush areas like the grout lines and around the corners of the tiles (not the middles!). Same for the sink - paint/brush the paint onto the corners and around the drain hole and other areas you'd expect to see staining (using your reference photos). THEN using a spraybottle of water, start spraying the still fresh painted areas until the start running, and see how that looks to you. Have some damp cloths or sponge handy to blot/knock down the the areas as you spray, to see what the overall look evolves into. Once you are happy with the look, stop touching/spraying and let it dry. Acrylic will dry to withstand casual touching or adding water, but over time may start peeling if someone takes a fingernail to it. It's not going to stick as well as enamels but you could try if you have access to some and see how it works for you.

You can also try using a light mist of non-shiny (mat finish) clearcoat enamel to protect the sink somewhat if you used acrylic. I don't think it is specifically recommended, but for a haunter's setup, it would probably be fine.
 

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Hi all!
I'm building a laboratory-style room with white tile walls and a basic sink with a pump attached to circulate red water.
Does anyone have an idea what would be a good technique to make the tiles and sink look old and dirty? As if the laboratory had been abandoned for many decades.
It would be important for the old look to be permanent, even if people touch it. Also, the water flowing in the sink should not remove it.

Maybe someone has an easy technique to use?

Thanks!!!
Sorry, no advice on how to make the tile look dirty, but I had to add a pic of my sink with a pump from past years.

731641
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for all the advise to far. I will get some enamel paint and try it out on a spare tile.
yes the tiles are ceramic, I specifically created these walls for this, so it’s ok for the stains to be permanent.
For the floor (vinyl), would acrylic paint also be the way to go?
 

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Another thing that might be helpful is to consider exactly what kind of dirty tiles you want. Are there going to be some cracked, broken, pieces missing where the rats pushed through? Is the weathering from dirt, smoke, blood? So many things to consider. For starters, we suggest heading over to Google and look at some images to get an idea what you'd like to create. From there, you can branch out with the products you need to make it come about. The link below should get you started.

 
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