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topic 24101

Painting/repairing a rusty wrought iron fence

A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2018


Q. Suggestions for methods and material necessary to "redo" a wrought iron fence. I have approximately 350' of wrought iron fence and a large gate that is beginning to rust badly!
I'm not sure what method to strip existing paint, stop rusting process, and repaint would be most cost effective in the shortest amount of time.

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Steve Easley
- Cedar Hill, Texas

similarly (2004)

Q. I am looking for information on the best ways to renew a 15 year old wrought iron fence. Do you recommend a sprayer (what type?), brush, or roller?
Charles R. Brehm
- Coppell, Texas


Q. I am also getting ready to paint an iron fence and gate. Does one spray paint or brush paint an iron fence. It is not the fancy type but more of a plain style, but nonetheless, very nice and about 5 years old. It is beginning to show wear. Any helps, tips in getting it ready to paint would be appreciated.
Rose Core
- Lewisville, Texas


Q. My wrought iron fence is faded, very little rust. I would like to repaint it and am looking for suggestions, on preparation, type of paint and application.
Jim Hovanec
- Double Oak, Texas


Q. I am in the process of restoring a wrought iron fence. The fence is very rusty and I have used a wire brush to remove the loose rust but having problems removing all of it. The surface is very "bumpy". Do you have any tips on how to remove most of the rust and what primer and paint would be best to use. I have bought Rust Reformer [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] by Rustoleum and also a Rustoleum Rusty-Metal Primer [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]. Both are spray. I have a gallon of Valspar oil based black paint for iron fencing. What is best to use? Rustoleum black spray for rusty fences or should I use the paint I have and apply by brush. Is the spray as good as brushing it on. It's been a very long process. Your help is very much appreciated.
Rebecca Hoylman
- Parkersburg, West Virginia


A. I am a wrought iron fabricator in Huntington, WV and this is a subject that comes up all the time with my customers. Honestly, either paint you mentioned is fine. When it comes to wrought iron, the thicker and heavier you get the paint on, the better. So while it is easier to spray, it will last longer if you brush.

There are some better choices for paint though ... but you will spend more money. I recommend an automotive epoxy paint. You can find these at a paint store that sells to body shops, such as RMS or anyone that carries PPG paints. The paints require mixing with a hardener and can cost up to $100/gallon but they are well worth it. In our shop, instead of the normal process you would use on a car (i.e., primer, base coat, clear coat) 3 STEPS! we use a black epoxy primer and leave it alone. It will sun fade slightly in time, thus adding to the authenticity of your wrought iron look. With this paint it is recommended to get a sprayer ($35) and wear a respirator, however, you can brush if needed. The only downfall to brushing is that after the hardener is added to the paint, you have about six hours before the paint gets too stiff to brush, so you have to mix it in small amounts if you have a large area to do. These paints will last several years longer than traditional paints on the market in hardware stores. Sometimes ten years or more before any signs of rust. I hope this helps.

Carrie Wallace
- Huntington, West Virginia

May 12, 2008

thumbs up signHi. We are sure that it helped, Carrie. Thanks!


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 31, 2010

Q. Can I assume that the epoxy primer you recommend will have a flat finished look, not glossy?

Lawrence King
- Boston, Massachusetts

March 6, 2012

A. Perhaps the most efficient way is to use a paint mitt. Cover all 4 sides with a single stroke

K Harding
- Arlington, Texas

Pressure Washing a Wrought Iron Fence


Q. I have a house built in '36 with a porch that has a wrought iron railing. I have been using a drill with a round metal brush attached to remove the old rust and loose paint. Being about 15% done I'm thinking that using a high PSI pressure washer, which I can borrow from a friend, might be the ticket once I figure out the best bit to use. I was wondering if there might be something I could spray on the iron to loosen the rust and paint, i.e. oven cleaner, a stripper? Something in a spray form. The drill is just taking too long and I have lots of other projects to take care of. Need some help :)

J. Rush
hobbyist - Nashville, Tennessee, US


A. Oven cleaner will immediately destroy any aluminum components in the pressure washer--which probably includes any of the hose fittings and maybe the tank. You might pressure wash to get rid of loose paint, then brush on Rust Converter [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] before repainting.

Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. Think you misunderstood me on the oven cleaner. I was planning on spraying something on the rod iron, letting it soak, then pressure wash the iron. Not run the oven cleaner through the pressure washer. Sorry if I was not clear on that.

Jeff Rush
- Nashville, Tennessee


A. I think this is a tough one. I've just finished stripping *one* set of security bars for my house. I have 5 more sets that I want to do during this project. I know how you feel.

I think if you want to soak the paint with something to soften it you'll find it takes quite a bit of whatever you'll use. So far I've avoided using MEK / methyl ethyl ketone and such and stuck it out scraping the old paint off with a carbide scraper that I've found to be very quick -- quicker than my assortment of sanders. Sandvik carbide scraper [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] are the scrapers I'm using, though other mfgrs. make a carbide scraper and if you can find the small, triangular size it should work just as well.

Next, I used a Dremel [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] tool with a carbide cutting bit to get where the scraper wouldn't. Last night I did a final sanding to remove the rust that formed during the project, then used air and a brush to remove the dust and applied a green liquid that turns the remaining rust to black oxide.

Tonight I'll go over it again with the liquid, then spray cold zinc galvanized [linked by editor to product info] onto that, then alkyd metal paint from Delux/Sinclair, then two top coats of latex. What a pain!

I've just wanted to stay away from the pressure washer (though I have one) because I don't think I'll get the job done any faster. The scraper removes the paint in flakes, which is nice for dust control. I think the pressure washer plus the paint remover (probably a citrus based if you want to wash with water) would be a pain. You have to cover the citrus-based stuff while it does its softening, and for the awkward surface and large surface you'll end up with a lot of waste plastic wrap.

Sand Blaster

Good luck.

Scott Packard
- Alhambra, California, USA


A. You could sandblast it; that would be the best way.

Simon Dupay
- Roseville, Minnesota, USA

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Cemetery needs wrought iron fence painted


RFQ: Have approximately 400 ft of wrought iron fence including gates that require painting treatment as necessary. There's also an overhead sign approximately 12 ft overhead that also requires paint(white). Fence is approximately 15 years old and surrounds a country cemetery located approximately 8 miles W of Jacksonville, Texas on US 175. Photo exists on website "Cemeteries of Texas"

Charles E [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Bullard, Texas
^- Sorry, this RFQ is outdated
View Current RFQs


April 2, 2009

Q. My wrought iron fence has a couple of holes that need to be fixed. How could I go about fixing it? They are both on the bottom rail between the vertical rails. We bought something called FASTSTEEL. It is a steel-reinforced epoxy putty =>

The people at Home depot said that it should work just fine. What do think?

lisa fletcher
- los Angeles, California

April 29, 2010

A. You can probably patch a metal picket, but if you want to do it right, you need to cut it out, grind it smooth, and weld another picket on there. If it is rusting out, then it is probably square tubing instead of solid steel square bar stock. I have never seen solid steel square bar stock rust out, even in fences that have been around 100 years over in New Orleans in some of the grave yards. It takes a long time for 1/2" thick steel to rust through. They probably only paint those fences every 20 years (if that often).

Most of the pickets are either 1/2" or 3/4" 16-gauge square tubing. Use an angle grinder or an abrasive cutoff blade in your circular saw to cut off most of the picket above and below each rail and then use an angle grinder to remove the rest of the picket that is still attached to each rail. Grind the surface smooth, removing all of the old weld. Put a new piece of 1/2" or 3/4" 16-gauge square tubing there and tack weld it in place on each rail. Prime it and paint it.

If your fence section uses butt-joints between the rails and the pickets, you might need to be a bit more careful with your measuring and welding to get a good looking result. If it like the majority of the fences we see around here, then the pickets overlap the rails and as such, the joints are easier.

If your fence is aluminum, then you need to be a bit more experienced as a welder. Then again, if it is rusting out, then the odds of it being aluminum are rather remote.

Thicker metal is easier to weld than thinner metal... 16-gauge is not *too* bad, but if you have the amperage turned up too high on the welder, you can definitely blow through it and create a hole.

Collin Leon
- Houston Metro Area, Republic of Texas

September 26, 2010

Q. I have a wrought iron fence that is only five years old. I am repainting it and I find rust spots at the welded joints of the rail and posts and along the rail where there is no joint or weld. Some of these rust spots have caused a hole in the rail about the size of a ten penny nail head. Have I already read the solution above or is this a new case. Can a hole in the rail be repaired and with what material?

Arthur PACE
HOMEOWNER - Missouri City, Texas

Hammerite Rust Cap

December 13, 2011

A. I have done my share of metal work and iron railing restoration. If the holes aren't in structural locations I would just sand and or grind the old paint around and in the holes and fill with either PC7 epoxy paste or epoxy putty that comes in stick form. I would then sand and or file when dry and prime and paint. If the iron is very old, which it must be to have holes, I would use Hammered Rustoleum to cover imperfections in very old iron. Hammerite is supposed to be good but it costs almost twice Rustoleum. I am going to do all my railings in Hammered next spring.

Joseph Lahood
- Andover, Massachusetts

January 20, 2014

A. If you want to make your iron fence or iron patio furniture to continue to look like new for many summers to come you should apply Rust Grip to them. Rust Grip is a product that stops rust without having to sand, the rust away. Just paint it on the whole item even on the rusty part. It fills in where the rust is and bonds to it. After using Rust Grip I only paint my patio furniture when I want to change the color.

Malissa Griffiths
- Keller, Texas, USA

August 19, 2014

Q. Where do I buy Rust Grip?

Anita Bennett
- Wytheville, Virginia USA

September 23, 2013

Q. How much should I expect to pay to have 120' x 5' of ornate wrought iron fence painted? I'm in Calif.

Suzanne Rymer
- Yucaipa, California, USA

Ed. note: Readers may also be interested in letter 51448, "Restoration of Civil War era iron cemetery fence".
Please use the search engine at top of page to find dozens of threads about refinishing other wrought iron articles like beds, patio furniture, fireplaces, and stairs & railings, and the repair/refinishing of other types of fences.

June 8, 2015

A. For all of those who are having difficulty finding the best method to redo wrought/cast iron fences and/or fixtures. I have refinishing and restoring them for a while for a side job . The best way I have found is to utilize any type of wire brush or grinder. Recently, I have switched over to using a power drill and a wire brush bit. Makes it much easier and then follow up with a hand wire brush to finish removing old paint and or rust.

The rust bubbles and chips must be removed in order for Rustoleum paint to indeed work because you must eliminate areas in which water can settle, therefore spreading the rust.

PAINTING--> I have found the best way to paint cast iron fences and fixtures is to use a paint glove. You can find them at most hardware stores in the paint section. When using the paint glove you basically put the glove on your hand, apply some paint using a paint tray and then simply rub the paint throughout the object that is being painted. It is the easiest possible way to not only sparingly use paint and save money but also gain the ability to swiftly and effectively get into all the necessary angles and corners.

If anyone is interested there are several tips that I have to inform you of when using these gloves. Just let me know.

Brian Quasebarth
- St. Louis, Missouri

August 10, 2015

Q. With painting mitts what kind of paint do you use.?

Tim Hemmerich
- Rochester New York

July 20, 2016

KBS All-in-one kit

! KBS Coatings is marvellous for wrought iron fence. Just did mine which is over 100 years old and took off 5 layers of paint. Used their paint stripper, aqua clean, rust blast and rust seal two coats and did the black Top. Took me a while to do as I am not young and never attempted something like this before. It is perfect. I read about them on website and found them in Australia as well as America. Safe to use as well as very tough and will last for years.

Sue Marshall
- Sydney NSW Australia

July 2016

thumbs up signHi Sue. Thanks for the info on your procedure and results! But do you actually know that it "will last for years"?

I only mention that because when we post testimonials to brand names on this anonymous site, sales managers from their competitors often start posting with phony names and ever more glowing reports, and we drown in spam. Glad you're happy with it, but we advise future posters that we'd like their testimonials to remain as technical, rather than commercial, as practical :-)

Thanks again, and Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

January 24, 2018

Q. Can I use an air hopper to paint a wrought iron gate?

Luther Smith
- Houston,Texas...USA

January 2018

Huh? Sorry, I don't understand.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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