Thursday, June 3, 2010

What Is A Wrought Iron Door

Wrought iron doors provide safety and look good.

Wrought (worked by hand) iron doors contain decorative scrollwork while offering strength and durability. With the onset of the Iron Age (1200 to 550 B.C.) through modern times, iron metalwork evolved from weaponry to other useful structures of civilization, including doors. The hand-forged door protected while "beautifying" ancient palaces, fine estate homes, churches and monasteries. Existing examples of the durability of wrought iron doors date back to Roman times. Does this Spark an idea?

Two Types of Wrought Iron

"Charcoal" iron (made before the 18th century) required blacksmiths to put the raw ore directly into charcoal fires. By heating the piece until red hot, and then repeatedly beating it against an anvil, this artisan worked the iron into beautiful shapes and designs.

The modern industrial era (1850 to 1900) replaced charcoal iron with the "puddled" iron method. Using a coal-fired "reverbatory" furnace (15 feet long by 5 feet by 5 feet) the iron ore melted in this deep box from the indirect heat. This method generally produced a more consistent slag (the melted iron) in greater quantities. Once the melted iron reached optimum temperature, the liquid metal wound up in different sized bar molds for different ironwork projects.


True wrought iron artistry requires craftsmanship that comes with experience. Working the heated block of iron hammering out the ore impurities against an anvil starts the process to create a strong and decorative door.

Superior Weathering Properties

Typically, a misconception exists about what true wrought iron is. Often, commercial advertising lists mild steel (the equivalent of wrought iron in the 21st century) and cast iron (shaped by pouring into molds) as wrought iron. Though these types of iron stand against wrought iron in strength, the decorative door designs are mass produced taking away from the artistry of craftsmanship that true wrought iron reflects. Wrought iron acquires a different and artistically valued "patina" (the thin layer of corrosion forming on a metal surface exposed to air and water) unlike iron works made from molds and steel.

Types of Wrought Iron Doors

Originally, owning wrought iron for decorative and security reasons was the privilege of the wealthy. Huge hand-worked iron gate doors opened onto long driveways leading to the front of estates of aristocrats. Mass production of iron doors became popular with the growing middle class of the industrial age for use in wine cellars and small but beautifully intricate front yard gates. The 21st century reveals a new interest among consumers to own these same kinds of sturdy doors.


The 21st century embraces a renewed interest in identifying and restoring old wrought iron doors and other iron pieces from a hundred years ago or older. With the developing interest in restoration, classic wrought iron techniques once again set the bar for hands-on blacksmith craftsmanship to repair and bring antique wrought iron doors back to their original beauty.

Tags: iron doors, wrought iron, 21st century, against anvil, craftsmanship that