Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Difference Between Wrought Iron Trellises & Metal Trellises

Metal trellises help support the heavy weight of woody vines and fruit.

Trellises are support structures for plants that twine and climb. They're generally constructed in an open pattern that allows the tendrils and suckers of the plants to attach naturally to the structure. Trellises are made of many different materials, including plastic, wood and wrought iron. Though many people use the terms interchangeably, the differences between wrought iron and simple metal trellises are significant. Does this Spark an idea?

What is Wrought Iron?

Wrought iron is term used for iron that's worked by hand into shapes for functional implements. The term goes back to the days when blacksmiths used forges, hammers and other tools to bend, shape and harden metals for everyday items. Today, metal manufacturers usually make their products out of steel, which has a different chemical composition than the original iron used long ago. Though some companies make their products specifically with a higher iron content, these are not widely available. Most people refer to steel trellises that have a hand-worked look as "wrought iron."

Wrought Iron Trellises

Those skilled in the art of blacksmithing may also produce wrought iron trellises. These blacksmiths employ many of the same Old World techniques that were used for hundreds of years, but substitute steel instead of the traditional iron. Wrought iron is very strong and lasts for many years. Blacksmith-produced wrought iron is often expensive because of the many hours of labor needed to work the steel.

Simple Metal Trellises

Mass-produced metal trellises are generally available in steel or aluminum. Each offers advantages for supporting plants. Steel is heavier and can hold vines that grow on thick, woody stems. Steel can also carry heavy fruit that requires good support. Aluminum is lightweight and easy to install. It doesn't rust, as steel does, but may develop a whitish coating from oxidation that helps to protect the metal surface.

Cost and Care

True "wrought iron" trellises are only slightly more expensive than aluminum trellises, according to the Fence-Depot website. Blacksmith-made wrought iron can be up to 1 1/2 times the cost of manufactured wrought iron or aluminum because of the man-hours involved in the fabrication. Wrought iron trellises can easily be re-painted. Rust can be removed with mechanical or chemical treatment. Steel trellises, which are usually made from mild steel, are lower in cost than hand-wrought iron, machine-made wrought iron or aluminum. Trellises made of mild steel may rust over time and require rust removal, welding and re-painting. Though aluminum won't rust, it does need periodic re-finishing.

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