How to Keep Wrought Iron Fences From Rusting

Updated November 21, 2016

Wrought iron fencing provides security and adds elegance to gardens and lawns. Like many outdoor structures made of iron or steel, wrought iron fencing can rust. In addition, the curlicue designs often used in wrought iron fencing and railing can trap moisture, which can lead to rust. Check your fence periodically for flaking, pitting and discolouration. Regular maintenance will keep your fence sturdy and looking good.

Inspect your fence for rust and cracks in the paint or rustproof coating. Look closely at joints and decorative areas with crevices that can hold moisture, which can cause the metal to oxidise.

Mark all areas that need repair with paint or chalk.

Use sandpaper or steel wool to remove paint and accumulated dirt. A wire brush will help remove stubborn rust and flaking paint.

Rub white spirit into the metal with a damp rag to clean off any remaining rust. Allow the fence to dry completely.

Apply paint primer with a brush. Use smooth, even strokes to coat the panels and pickets. For large fences, use a spray gun. Let dry thoroughly.

Use a new brush to apply a top coat of oil-based paint over the primer. Apply with smooth strokes. Pay careful attention to intricate areas making sure to coat completely on all sides. Let dry thoroughly and apply a second coat.

Check a new wrought iron fence after installation for scratches and oxidation. Scratches and other damage to the surface could allow moisture to reach the metal and cause oxidisation.

Note all areas where moisture could accumulate, such as decorative motifs, hinges and joins. Spray hinges and moving parts with a rust blocker.

Spray isolated areas of oxidation with rust remover. Wait 15 minutes for small areas or up to two hours for heavily rusted sections. Rinse with water. Repeat if any rust remains.

Prepare an entire wrought iron fence for a coat of rust converter by removing all large flakes of rust with a wire brush. Leave small areas of rust, since they will be neutralised by the converter. Use a degreaser to clean any oil or grease from the metal.

Apply a rust converter with a roller in large areas and a brush in small detailed ones.

Paint the rust converter over the entire surface, including the undersides of areas.

Let dry.

Paint primer over the rust converter with a roller, brush or spray gun. Allow to dry.

Apply two top coats of oil-based paint, using long strokes, to give your wrought iron fence long-lasting protection.


Cover the area around your fence when spray painting to protect plants, steps and windows. If you can't cover them, use a mini roller or brush rather than spray paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Chalk
  • Sandpaper, steel wool
  • Wire brush
  • White spirit
  • Rags
  • Rust blocker
  • Rust remover
  • Rust converter
  • Rust-inhibiting primer
  • Oil based enamel paint
  • Two 3-inch paint brushes
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