How to Paint a Wrought Iron Fence

How to Paint a Wrought Iron Fence
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A wrought iron fence around your home or garden can make your property look more attractive and elegant. Ranging in styles from ornate to contemporary, wrought iron fencing is popular for its sturdy construction as well as its beauty. But while a wrought iron fence doesn’t need the amount of maintenance a wood fence requires, some upkeep is necessary to prevent rusting and to renew its panache. If your property is graced by a wrought iron fence, there may come a time when it needs to be painted or repainted.

Of course, this poses the question of whether you should do it yourself or hire a painting contractor. Although budget is definitely a factor, attempting the project yourself could wind up becoming too time-and-labor-intensive. When it comes to wrought iron, not doing the job properly can create a sloppy appearance that detracts from its classic style – and also set the stage for future condition issues.

If your fence was installed before 1978, there is a possibility that it – and the exterior and interior of your house – has a coat of lead-based paint. As our blog post – “How to Stay Safe When Painting Homes With Lead-Based Paint” – covers, lead-based paint was commonly used until being banned by the federal government in 1978 as a toxic substance. As long as lead-based paint is covered by one or more coats of non-lead-based paint, it does not pose a health hazard. However, it can become airborne if stripped during repainting or remodeling – at which point it’s dangerous if inhaled or adheres to clothing or exposed skin.

Should you suspect your wrought iron fence has a coat of lead-based paint beneath its current coat, have the paint tested by a lead abatement company before proceeding. The Paint Manager is an EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firm – which means that we are certified to conduct lead-based paint removal, repair and painting activities. Please visit our Certifications & Credentials page to view our certification. Home testing kits are available, but are not particularly accurate.

Prep Work is the Key to Success in Painting a Wrought Iron Fence

When it comes to wrought iron fence painting, carefully performing the preparation work is key to achieving a smooth, even result. Take your time. Patience is a virtue that will pay off! The following instructions are courtesy of Andres Matheu, owner of Hömm Certified Painting Systems, Washington, D.C., in his article for WikiHow.

Step 1: Remove paint and rust

Spread a drop cloth or sheet around the fence – Paint and rust removal is a messy job. Keep your property clean by laying out a sheet or drop cloth to catch falling debris. Avoid doing this job in windy weather.

Use a dust mask, goggles and gloves – Paint and rust debris can irritate your skin, throat and eyes. Wear gloves to prevent cuts and irritation.

Use a metal scraper to remove paint and rust from flat surfaces – Old paint and rust will not allow the new coat to adhere to the surface properly. Use a metal scraper to remove them from the flat surfaces. Scrape back and forth to make the process effective, and be sure you don’t miss any spots.

Use a wire brush to remove paint and rust from curved areas – If your fence has ornamental details, use a wire brush to remove paint and rust from the curved places. Scrub all of the areas you couldn’t reach with the scraper. Rub back and forth to flake off any paint and rust. Use a powered grinder to remove remaining rust spots.

Use 150-grit sandpaper for sanding the fence – Sanding is crucial to prepare the fence for repainting. You can use 150-grit sandpaper to sand the surface. Make sure you sand the whole surface. Use a steady, back-and-forth motion to smooth the rough spots.

Remove any remaining dust – Soak a rag in mineral spirits and rub it over the entire fence, scrubbing hard to pick up remaining residue. Wear gloves during this process. Don’t clean the iron with water, as it can result in rust.

Step 2: Prime the metal

Use an oil-based primer – To avoid rusting, apply the primer as soon as sanding is complete. Oil-based primers are best for outdoor applications because they adhere to the surface properly and resist the elements well. Buy a roll-on or spray metal primer. For roll-on primer, apply in smooth strokes, rolling back and forth to achieve complete coverage. Touch up missed areas with a brush. For a spray primer, spray eight inches from the fence, using a back-and-forth motion. Wear protective gear while spraying; do not spray primer in windy conditions.

Wait two to four hours for the primer to dry, then start painting – The length of time depends upon the type of primer used. Spray usually dries in about two hours; roll-on primer in about four. Weather conditions also affect drying time. Check the fence with your finger to see if the primer has dried, then start painting.  

Choosing the Right Paint and Application Method

Two of the most crucial elements apart from prep work in wrought iron fence painting include choosing the right paint and the application method. Exterior-grade enamel paint will protect your wrought iron fence from rust, corrosion and other environmental conditions. Acrylic-based latex paint has the advantage of expanding and contracting at temperature extremes. While freezing temperatures aren’t a concern in Central Florida, our triple-digit summer afternoons can take a toll on any painted exterior surface.

Capitol City Ironworks recommends a spray paint, as it is easy to work with and provides even coverage of the fence. After applying the first coat, allow it to dry and spray a second coat to provide a thick, protective covering. Pay close attention to crevices, nooks and crannies to ensure you don’t leave any areas exposed.

Should You DIY or Hire a Professional Painter?

We haven’t deliberately made this process appear to be more intensive than it actually is. Successfully painting a wrought iron fence involves a great deal of preparation, painstaking work and meticulous attention to detail. As you’ve probably also gathered, it takes physical stamina. That being said, if you are experienced at remodeling projects and are in good shape physically, you may have the confidence that this is in your wheelhouse.

For most homeowners, however, leaving it to a professional painting contractor is well worth the investment. A professional has the experience and skill, as well as the proper supplies and equipment to get the job done right and safely.

Our team at The Paint Manager has been proudly serving Central Florida homeowners for 20 years with experienced, dedicated and professional services that include exterior and interior house painting, roof repair and cleaning, drywall repair, popcorn ceiling texture removal, cabinet refinishing and so much more!

Plus, become a member of The Paint Manager to receive a 15% year-‘round member’s discount. Contact us to learn more about our services and membership discount offer. We look forward to meeting you!

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