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Maintenance of Wrought Ironwork
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By Chris Topp

Ironwork is commonly supposed to be nearly free of maintenance and as such is frequently left to rust undisturbed for long periods resulting in periodic major overhauls, at great expense. This could be avoided by insistence on annual inspection with immediate and usually trivial remedial work to arrest any developing problems.

Suggested establishment of a rolling programme of maintenance, of all items of ironwork, based upon the following schedule.


Initial attention in the form of repair or restoration.


Thorough inspection of ironwork - Identify any areas of foliage, debris or moss build up and in particular any areas showing loose and damaged paintwork or signs of rust seeping from, or water lodging in, joints. Any chipping of paint in well-ventilated areas is not too significant.

Attend to identified problem areas at the earliest opportunity - Clean ironwork and immediate surrounding area of any build ups and ensure all ironwork is kept well ventilated. When the paintwork is dry remove dust, contaminants or loose coatings by sanding or wire brushing and then locally reseal all areas identified in the inspection by touch-up paintwork. Bare metal should be primed with suitable primer before applying topcoat. Run paint into any joints where water is known to lodge to make sure these areas are completely sealed. Note that this work can only be carried out in periods of warm and dry weather when the problem joints are thoroughly dried out.

Lubricate to ensure freedom of movement - Hinges; fill all grease nipples on bottom hinge sockets & lightly oil pin inside top strap hinges. Shoot Bolts; lubricate as necessary. Lock; lightly oil the top of the protruding locking bolt and then slide in and out a couple of times to disperse the oil.


Thoroughly re-paint ironwork with original (or equivalent) high performance paint system as proposed under 'finishing’' Prior to painting the ironwork should be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water and a scrubbing brush then degreased. When the paintwork is dry remove dust, contaminants or loose coatings by sanding. Bare metal should be primed with suitable primer. Apply full topcoat as required.


Inspect gate locks & determine if needs replacing.


Decorative ironwork made of genuine wrought iron should be free of long-term damage if the maintenance regime outlined above is adhered to. However, should it be necessary to remove thick layers of paint the ironwork should be grit blasted only as a last resort as this removes the iron's own original protective layer of oxide. Instead all wrought ironwork should be striped by chemical means. Wrought iron should under no circumstances be galvanised or hot zinc sprayed as both cause irreversible damage to the natural corrosion resistant properties of wrought iron.


Again et cetera ad infinitum.

Chris Topp & Co Ltd is a 30 year old company, based in North Yorkshire which is the only producer in the world today of genuine wrought iron and a leader in the restoration of heritage ironwork. They are one of the best known names for the design and creative production of modern and traditional iron work.
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