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Iron rusts, especially when kept outdoors. Finding corrosion on a wrought iron fence is not uncommon, and should be something you prepare for, but not something you should worry about.
Most wrought iron fences will develop some minor rust spots. Generally, these take years to cause any actual structural damage, but they can be unsightly and make your fence or gate look like it was not properly cared for. Some things can make rust more likely to develop.
There are a number of things which can cause your wrought iron fence to rust:
In addition to the obvious red spots, corrosion can have some other effects.
If you are starting to see these signs of corrosion, it is very likely that your wrought iron fence is going to need to be repaired. This level of rust is generally a sign of a fence being neglected and is more likely to be seen on properties that haven’t been well treated. If you are buying a property with a wrought iron fence, do inspect the fence before closing. You might be able to get the seller to contribute to the cost of repairs.
There are a few steps you should take when you find rust spots on your fence. Remember that rust on a wrought iron fence is normal, easily repairable, and a small price to pay for the beauty of your fence or gate.
Here’s what you should do when you find rust.
The repairs that are needed will depend on how bad the rust is. The sooner you treat rust, the better. Over time, you may learn to deal with tiny patches yourself.
For small patches with no structural alteration, the typical treatment is to sand the rust off of the affected area and then repaint. Care should be taken to make the new paint match the old. It’s worth considering repainting the entire fence if you have multiple rust spots or if an inspection reveals that the paint is chipped in other places.
For more serious problems, especially if your fence or gate is sagging, it may be necessary to remove and replace the affected piece, generally by cutting out defective lengths and welding in the new piece. Hand made wrought iron is now an expensive luxury, but a good repair company will replace it with more modern iron which will look and “act” like the original. Beware cheap repairs that might use, say, aluminum for the replacement (aluminum is commonly used to make fake wrought iron, but is not nearly as strong or dent-proof as the real thing). You will also need a repair company that has the skill to shape the new iron to match the old. This is not a job you can hand over to just anyone.
Once the fence is repaired, you should take steps to make sure that you take proper care of your wrought iron fence so it does not happen again. The repair company may be able to advise you on specific steps for your fence and circumstances. After a major repair, it is a good idea to repaint the entire fence, as this will help the colors match (and if you want to change the color of your fence, you can use this as an excuse). Consider using a rust neutralizer or a solution of lemon juice and vinegar on rusted areas before repainting. Always use rust-resistant paint.
Make sure to clean and inspect your fence at least once, ideally twice a year. Use steel wool to clean off rust the second you see it, before it grows deep enough into the metal to cause a problem.
Rust is a common problem with wrought iron fences, but it is a solvable one. Proper maintenance will help keep rust from developing and causing a problem, whilst professional repairs can restore your fence to its original appearance within, generally, a matter of days. You should not attempt to make complicated repairs (anything more than cleaning rust spots) yourself, but should contact a professional with experience working in iron.