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Wrought Iron – Painting Guide

Wrought iron is a very popular choice among homeowners, and no wonder – it’s versatile, quite affordable, and simple yet elegant. Great choice, especially for outdoor décor. Railings, fences, posts or even full-on garden furniture sets. Whatever it is, they have to deal with a lot.

It’s not a living room where you can simply slap on your basic latex-based paint on the walls, throw in some ceiling paint for your ceiling, and you’re pretty much good to go. It doesn’t get much harder for these surfaces. Exterior décor elements, on the other hand, have to face the worst of conditions on a daily basis. Heat, cold, rain, snow, wind and the worst of all – rust. That means it’s inevitably going to need some touch-ups every now and then.

Assembling Materials

Wrought iron requires a special approach, and that’s only possible with special products. In this case, it’s an oil-based enamel paint for metal. This type of paint was designed to battle rust and corrosion, with a little bonus feature - waterproofing. As for colours, it doesn’t really matter that much but if we had to pick a favourite – it’s black. It’s the most durable option, more often than not. Nevertheless, it’s still the paint type, not its colour, that matters. But even before that – don’t forget about the primer. In this scenario, you should go for an oil-based metal primer. Pro tip: it’s also available in a spray can, giving you an easy and effective way to cover smaller areas, and with wrought iron, that’s the kind of space you’ll be usually working with. Two more things – a paint thinner and a lead paint test kit. That’s about it.

And Tools

This is actually very much like any other paint job. That basically means you’ll need something to paint with – like a brush or a thick roller. A bucket and a tray to store the paint or clean your equipment. Finally, some sandpaper, a wire brush, a paint scraper, maybe a utility knife and a pair of waterproof gloves for protection. Maybe you won't need all of this, but make sure you get at least one tool that can help you get the surface ready.


Since most paint jobs start the same way, our journey begins with surface preparation, namely cleaning. Grab a piece of cloth, soak it in some water mixed with soap and start scrubbing. Make sure you do a thorough job and rinse it down with water when you’re done. Once that’s out of the way, it’s time to identify any pain points – rust or paint peeling. Get rid of it either by sanding or using a scraper tool or a utility knife. You don’t have to get all of it, just the protruding parts that can impair paint adhesion. Do your best to achieve an even finish. To top it all off, get a wire brush and sand away as much as you can. Don’t worry if that doesn’t do much – you don’t want to peel everything off and get to bare iron anyway. The brush will definitely help with rust but now it’s time for the last step – sandpaper. Use it on rusty surfaces or if your old paint has a glossy finish. In that second case, you should get a coarse sanding paper. Once all the sanding is done, clean it again but don’t use any water. A piece of cloth or a brush will suffice to get rid of all the debris and dust.


Surface preparation is the most important step – and it’s almost done. Now it’s time to prime, either with a brush or a spray can. This will add more protection to your wrought iron, especially against rust and corrosion, and improve adhesion – so basically make the paint stick better, which has an added bonus for you. You’ll save some money on the paint itself since it makes the process much more efficient. As mentioned, we need a strong, durable and hard-wearing primer. Oil-based one is the best bet here. Last thing – it needs about 24 hours before you can apply the first coat of paint.


Finally, it’s time to get started with the actual painting. It’s pretty simple – use a roller first to quickly cover larger areas. Hand-brushing is a rather tiresome task, so it’s best to get as much with a roller as possible. For little touch-ups or hard-to-reach areas, you’re stuck with a brush. But worry not – it’s not that hard either. Try to be as thorough as you can. If you notice any paint dripping, that means you applied too much paint and now you have to spread it to achieve an even finish. As for the second coat, you need to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations but it’s safe to assume your wrought iron needs to wait another 24 hours before it gets the second coating.

The Right Time

The last thing to keep in mind is the weather and time of the day. If it’s raining, it’s best to push the project off and live to fight another day. The ideal conditions are anywhere between 10℃ to 21 ℃. It matters more than you may think. When it gets too hot, too cold or too humid, paint doesn’t stick quite as well. So, make sure you get it right and you’re good to go. Good luck!