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How to Paint Wrought Iron Railings With a Brush

Updated on December 9, 2016

Paint Wrought Iron Railings -- Help and Tips

Painting wrought-iron railings with a brush is a great way to give your house a sharp, newer look. Few things make your house's "face" look better than a freshly painted set of wrought iron railings. The look is classic and the material lasting, and visitors -- and potential buyers -- will respond to your home with the attention it deserves. The problem: wrought iron railings can be tricky to paint. You need to consult a variety of sources and choose the type of paint and process that is best for your own situation. This lens will offer a few ideas and common-sense help to get you started.

By (Zelfgemaakte foto) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How to Paint Wrought Iron Railings: Prepare the Area

The paint you will be using is powerful stuff and difficult to clean up, so you need to prevent that paint from getting all over the place. This is basic and the first step for any experienced painter, but us non-pro's may forget this essential step. So go get out the newspapers or, better, a drop-cloth. TAPE IT DOWN! Time spent preparing the area is always time well spent.

By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How to Paint Wrought Iron Railings: Prepare Yourself

While you will need to spend some time preparing the area for painting, you will also need to think about how you are going to protect yourself from the fumes and mess of painting on wrought iron. This isn't the same as painting on wood, or interior walls -- the paint is much more toxic and hard to clean, so getting yourself prepared gloves, old clothes, and a face mask if you are sensitive to paint fumes or the area lacks good ventilation.


Reduce Inhalation Risk -- Quality, Affordable Particle and Fume Mask

Especially if you are painting indoors, you need suitable protection from fumes. This mask can be a real life-saver, and it is both affordable and effective.

How To Paint Wrought Iron Railings: Prepare the Surface

This can be hard work, especially if you have a good amount of rust and "bubbles" on the existing surface (if the surface is unpainted, you can bypass this step and go straight to painting -- and count yourself lucky!). Use a wire brush to remove loose flakes of paint, and pay special attention to rusted areas. Remember -- it doesn't matter if you do the best paint job in the world if you are painting over existing loose paint. It will just flake and peel off eventually. Use carbon sanding paper, available at any Home Depot, to rough up smooth areas so it takes the paint better. After you have reduced bumps and flacks, clean the surface. Hot, soapy water will remove any dirt or sanding dust that still clings to the surface. Dry thoroughly with a cotton rag.

How To Paint Wrought Iron Railings: Prime the Surface

Prime the prepared surface. There are many good primers on the market and you will want to choose one to fit your budget. Apply one even coat of primer to the surface. AVOID DRIPS! This is perhaps the trickiest part of painting iron railings, but if you let drips form and harden you will have to look those amateurish-looking drips for years to come! Do your best work here and it will pay off.

By Lure (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How to Paint Wrought Iron Railings: Apply Paint

Paint the prepared surface. Using the same steady hand you used to prime the surface, apply 2 - 3 coats of your chosen color. And once again -- Kill all drips! It is best to use semi-gloss paint. This gives the metal the proper sheen and will make your iron railings look great for years.

Let the railing dry thoroughly. Many paint projects are ruined by a lack of patience in this step. If you do not let the first coat dry, subsequent coats will stay gummy and damp FOREVER.

Of course, if you elect to use spray paint, your painting and clean up will be much less challenging...

By Martin (originally posted to Flickr as Wrought Iron) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Did you Spill Some Paint? Here's How to Clean It Up.

Industrial-grade spill control for oil, oil paint, and other petroleum-based products.

How to Paint Wrought Iron Railings: The Clean Up

If you've taken your time preparing, this step should be easy. The main thing, of course, is to be careful not to let any still-wet paint get tracked through your house! This stuff, as I'm sure you've come to realize, is very difficult to clean off of surfaces.

If you have leftover paint, store it carefully. If you want to dispose of metal railing paint, consult with your local hardware store on the best way to get rid of it without harming the environment or getting it into the water table.

By DrEmmettBrownie (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 4 years ago from Albany New York

      I really want to 'get' to my wrought iron railings. Thanks for the great tips, especially to be patient and do it right.

    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Fantastic tips with great safety information. I really like wrought iron but think it can look dated if not handled well--but painting might just be the answer.

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