How to Restore Antique Steel or Iron

Written by sarah coennen
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How to Restore Antique Steel or Iron
People have made spigots from steel and iron. (Antique Water Spigot image by Karin Lau from

Antique metal objects can add a classic elegance to any decor, such as candlesticks, lamps, and furniture. When you find antique steel or iron, and it is covered in rust but you still want to use it in your home decor and don't want to pay the cost of a professional restoration, you can accomplish a home restoration without too much trouble. When performing restorations on any antique item, it is important to do the restoration in an open-air environment to avoid breathing in harmful substances.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Respiratory mask
  • Work gloves
  • Newspaper
  • Wire brush
  • Paint brushes
  • Lacquer or black paint

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  1. 1

    Put on the respiratory mask and work gloves. This is very important so you don't breathe in the rust particles, or hurt your hands while removing the rust and debris from the steel iron.

  2. 2

    Lay down the newspaper on the floor of your open air space. For best results and less cleaning, you should do this outside on the ground or in a garage on the concrete floor. If you have a back or front porch where the flooring is wood, this is acceptable too.

  3. 3

    Scrub the steel or iron with a wire brush to remove all rust possible. Make sure you get on the top and bottom of your antique metal object, and in any nook or cranny.

  4. 4

    Brush the steel iron with a paint brush to remove all of the loose debris after you are done scrubbing it with the wire brush.

  5. 5

    Apply one or two coats of clear lacquer or black paint to inhibit the development of more rust. Black is a classic colour to paint antique steel or iron, but if you don't want to colour it you must use a clear coat of lacquer to avoid rust.

Tips and warnings

  • If there is still rust in nooks and crannies of your piece, you can boil the piece in caustic soda, but this is a very dangerous venture and should be approached with heavy caution to avoid chemical burns.
  • Breathing in rust particles can cause serious medical problems. Wear a respiratory mask at all times.

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