Friday, May 28, 2010

Care For Iron Railings

Nice example of hand-joined rail

If properly cared for, a good iron railing should last several lifetimes and look better with age. The goal is to keep it from corroding. Few finishes will last the lifetime of the railing, so it is best to know refinish the railing. Does this Spark an idea?


1. Typical rusting

Remove any loose paint and any rust. Start with the wire brush and scrub the paint aggressively. Use the brush to scrub rusted or corroded areas. Make sure the rust is completely removed. Use the steel wool where the brush won't reach. Pay particular attention to welds and corners. These are the areas where rusting first occurs and cause the most trouble.

When all the loose bits have been removed, you can use a rag to wipe the railing clean of dust and paint chips.

2. Prime the railing, for an outdoor railing. There are many nice finishes available but most require professional removal of the railing. For simple home repair, paint is the best choice. Use a spray primer on the areas that you brushed clean. This is necessary because few paints will stick to the metal. It also provides an extra layer of protection. You will want newspaper on the ground to protect it from getting painted. Follow the directions on the can and spray a thin coat of primer. The thinner the coat of paint, the less likely it is to be scratched off. You will need to wait at least 30 minutes to paint the next coat.

After you have primed the railing, paint it with a spray enamel. Your local paint or hardware store should have a wide variety of suitable paints in all colors. Paint the railing in the same even manner that you primed it. Avoid runs by keep the sprayer moving at all times. If you miss a spot, wait until the first coat dries and then go over it.

3. Oil or wax the railing, for indoor railings. An indoor railing can be painted like an outdoor piece, but there are even simpler methods that can retain the natural beauty of the material. You can buy tung oil at a hardware store, which works well for wood and metal. For an iron railing, use a rag to apply the lightest of coats. You can use a clean rag to wipe off any excess. If you put too much on, the railing will be sticky for a few days. The tung oil will darken the iron and make a nice finish.

You can also use paste wax or shoe polish. There are clear, brown, black and a variety of colors to choose from. Use a rag to rub the wax into the railing and spread any excess evenly around.

Both the wax and the oil can last several years on interior iron.

Tags: brush scrub, hardware store, iron railing, last several