How To Clean And Maintain Antique Ornamental Iron Fencing

If you own or rent a historic home in a Southern city, such as New Orleans, Savannah, or Charleston, chances are good that you have an ornamental wrought iron fence. The decorative fencing typically features intricate filigree scroll work and lacy patterns and designs that will give any home a charming look. You can even buy the antique iron fencing from a salvage company if want to give your house a gracious, vintage look with a do-it-yourself project. 

Although iron ornamental iron fencing is durable enough to have withstood decades of wear and tear from the elements, it still requires some TLC to look its best. If you properly maintain and clean it on a regular basis, you can enjoy the fencing for many more years to come. 

Here are some tips for caring for your vintage iron fencing on a regular basis:

1. Remove Rust and Peeling Paint

Whether your new home came with an iron fence in less-than-perfect shape, or you bought some fencing from salvage dealer, you may need to restore some of its former glory. If the fencing features some powdery rust or flaking paint, you can remove it by running a steel-bristled brush all over the imperfect areas. 

2. Paint the Exposed Metal

After scraping away the rust and paint, paint the newly exposed iron with an oil-based metal primer to prep it for painting. After the primer completely dries, cover the fence with a black oil-based metal paint, which will replicate the look of authentic wrought iron. Use a small artist's brush to reach any small ornamental details. You can also use black spray paint to cover any hard-to-reach areas. 

If you live in an especially wet or humid area, you can apply a preventative coating of wax made especially for use on iron to the fence. Reapply the wax any time you repaint the fence. 

3. Cleaning the Iron Fencing

After you've updated the vintage iron fencing and made it look as good as possible, you'll need to clean it on a regular basis to avoid build-up. On a monthly or semi-annual basis, depending on your climate, make a mixture of warm water and a mild dish detergent and use a soft cloth or brush to remove any dirt and debris from the fence. Use an old toothbrush to work grime out of any intricate scroll work.

Rinse the fence with a hose and allow it to air dry.