How to Fix an Iron Railing

Written by claudia henning
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How to Fix an Iron Railing
The durability of iron railing makes it a common sight worldwide. (Stair Case over the jungle image by TNK from

Metal is considered the most durable material to use for outdoor decorative railing and security fencing. This has made iron the most popular choice for centuries. The overall need for maintenance and repair is minimal. Sometimes rust will begin to pit and corrode the metal, or the anchor bracket will separate from the concrete in which it was installed. Staying on top of these minor repairs will protect the integrity of the railing. A few hours of work will help the metal railing retain beauty and use for the next generation.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • Putty knife
  • Wet/dry vacuum cleaner
  • Drill with concrete bit
  • 1-foot length of 5/16-inch galvanised steel threaded rod
  • Permanent marker
  • Work bench with vice
  • Hacksaw
  • Quick drying cement
  • Bucket
  • Lag screw
  • Wood boards for prop
  • Small wood block
  • Hammer
  • Lock-washer and nut
  • Box-end wrench
  • Small wire brush
  • Dust sheet
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Metal primer spray
  • Metal finish paint spray

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    Fixing Loose Iron Railing Anchors

  1. 1

    Lift up on the loose rail anchor at the bottom of the railing and remove any loose dirt and concrete from the hole. Pull it out using the end of a screwdriver or small putty knife and suck up any remainder with a wet/dry vacuum cleaner. Remove all of the loose material down to an area of solid concrete.

  2. 2

    Install a concrete bit into a drill and bore a hole down into the concrete that is the same size as the hole in the anchor bracket. Place a 5/16-inch galvanised steel threaded rod into both the anchor and concrete holes.

  3. 3

    Estimate the length of rod needed to reach from the base of the concrete, up through the anchor bracket with room for a nut and washer. Mark off the excess with a permanent marker. Secure the rod to a shop bench with a vice and use a hacksaw to remove the extra length. Sand the edges smooth with a file.

  4. 4

    Mix a small batch of quick drying cement. Add the cement to a bucket and mix water until it is the consistency of a thick soup.

  5. 5

    Lift up the rail anchor and pour the cement into the hole. Set the anchor in proper position by propping it with small boards to keep it erect and straight.

  6. 6

    Insert the rod down through the hole in the anchor bracket until it reaches the concrete base. Pack it down tightly by placing a small piece of wood over the rod and tapping on it with a hammer. This will also help settle the cement.

  7. 7

    Put a lock washer and nut on the top end of the rod and use a box-end wrench to tighten it roughly half way down. Drill a lag screw into the back of the anchor bracket down into the cement to help secure it. Finish tightening the lock washer and nut. Brush off any excess cement using a small wire brush.

    Painting an Iron Railing

  1. 1

    Place a dust sheet over all items and areas that would suffer from paint overspray. Scrape the surface of the railing using a small wire brush and a gloved hand. Sand the surface with 120-grit sandpaper to roughen it for painting.Wipe the railing with tack cloth to remove the dust.

  2. 2

    Spray on a layer of metal primer lightly. Cover the areas well that are rusty or are bared metal.

  3. 3

    Spray slowly a layer of metal finish paint. Hold the can 12 to 18 inches away and stay in motion as you spray to avoid runs and drips. Allow the paint to dry for 24 hours before handling the railing.

Tips and warnings

  • A small paint brush or roller can be used to apply paint if preferred, but avoid products like painting mitts. "Don't bother with a paint-mitt. All you'll get is an uneven paint job and a sloppy mess," states John Dee of
  • Use primer and paint that is specific to metal protection.
  • Wear gloves and safety glasses when painting or working with cement.
  • Paint in a well ventilated area.

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