Wrought iron doors are about as traditional as you can get, and they can match the most elegant exterior home designs with ease. Beyond that, they’re extremely strong since they’re made of iron.
However, most consumers have one big concern that’s not necessarily warranted – will wrought iron door rust?
That’s a fair question. After all iron rusts in most situations.
Well, the answer is a fairly complicated one. So, we’re going to go over it in detail, and we’re going to go over the various maintenance tasks that wrought iron doors require to protect them.
Let’s get started.
What is a Wrought Iron Door?
A wrought iron door isn’t made of the same iron you’ve probably used with nails and other cheap forms of iron. Wrought iron is made differently. It’s “pig iron” that is puddled after being heated to molten levels. This makes it almost entirely pure, and while there are some minor impurities found in the filaments of wrought iron, it’s the purest iron you’re going to find. This completely changes the iron’s properties.
Most iron, namely the more cheaply produced iron, is best for casting. That’s when the molten iron is poured into a mold and then cooled.
On the other hand, wrought iron is more malleable. It’s capable of being rolled, shaped, and forged; which allows wrought iron to take on infinitely complex shapes and designs in a variety of applications.
When this is applied to door manufacturing, it means that you can get an extremely strong, durable door that has more intricate details than any other door material you can get your hands on.
Do Wrought Iron Doors Rust?
Now, for the big question; will wrought iron door rust? Will your beautiful wrought iron door suddenly be turned into a hideous mess of brownish-red after a couple of rain storms? No it won’t. At least not if you put care into its maintenance.
Wrought iron has different properties than the cheap cast iron you’re used to. When it gets exposed to small amounts of water, it develops a lubricated surface of discoloration called a patina. That patina is a form of damage, but it’s not bad. It actually protects the iron from developing rust since it’s a thin layer that can’t produce rust itself.
That patina will be worthwhile protection against more mild, short-term forms of damage. If there’s a particularly humid day, or you get hit by spotty showers every once in a while, the patina should be enough protection to keep your wrought iron door safe.
However, the patina isn’t impenetrable. In the short-term, long bouts of rain, non-stop humidity, and generally being kept wet for long periods of time will cause rust to start developing regardless of how much of a patina your door has built up. In the long-term, the patina won’t be such an amazing saving grace, either. The cumulative damage will eventually lead to rust spots, and if left unchecked, complete destruction of the door.
Luckily, the vast majority of wrought iron doors are shipped with a protective coating of black paint on them. This protects them for as long as the coating is kept intact, and it doesn’t distract from the overall appearance of the wrought iron door like vibrant paints would. That’s not to say you have to keep the door painted black. As long as you use high-quality outdoor paint, you can choose whatever color you want with future paint jobs. Just be aware that your color choice might distract from the traditional beauty of a detailed wrought iron door.
Finally, there’s a unique benefit to wrought iron’s anti-rust properties. Yes, if rust is allowed to develop around the hinges, opening the door can become a difficult or ear-grating task. However, because a patina develops, wrought iron is basically self-lubricating. Unless you REALLY neglect your door, the door will lubricate itself and open smoothly from day one until you remove it. So, it’s not just great for protection; the patina also keeps the door functioning elegantly.
Maintaining Your Wrought Iron Door: Preventative Measures
Now, you know that wrought iron doors do rust, but the problem isn’t as horrifying as many people would assume. One rainstorm isn’t going to ruin your wrought iron double doors. However, you do need to maintain it.
So, how do you do that?
Well, you need to focus mainly on rust prevention. If you can prevent rust from ever accumulating, your maintenance tasks will be a lot easier, and you won’t spend so much time worrying about it or fussing over preserving it.
First, we’ll cover preventative maintenance tasks you should stay on top of.
1: Maintaining Dryness
Obviously, one of the best ways to prevent rust is to simply keep your door dry. No, you don’t need to constantly rush outside and painstakingly dry your door after every bit of rain. However, if you’re hit by a particularly heavy rainstorm that lasts a while, and maybe it’s too cold outside for it to dry quickly on its own, it’s worth going outside and giving the door a quick rub down with a basic rag.
Also, you have to be mindful of snow. Allowing snow and ice to pile up on the door and sit there until nature takes over is a good way to develop rust in a short amount of time. After all, snow or ice often takes days to fully melt and dry out, and that whole time, your door will be compacted by it.
After you get hit by snow, go outside and try to brush as much of the snow off as possible. Then, properly shovel your entryway to keep the snow from maintaining contact with the door. If your wrought iron single entry doors develop a layer of ice during more frigid temps, try to do your best to knock the ice off, and consider turning up the heat in your home to hopefully melt the ice off faster.
You don’t need to do anything drastic, and it’s not anything to panic over, but doing these things will prolong the lifespan of your door.
There’s a reason wrought iron doors are mostly shipped with a thick coat of black paint. That paint will add yet another layer of protection to your wrought iron door, and if it’s maintained, rust will never be a problem.
Yes, this means you’ll have to put in a bit of work to keep that paint job taken care of. Also, with more intricately detailed doors, giving it a paint job can be difficult. Luckily, you should only need to do it once a year unless you are extremely rough on your door.
First, let’s start off with the once-a-year schedule. Pick a day during a time of year that works for you, preferably when your local area is particularly dry, and choose that as your annual repainting day.
Each year, get your paint stripper, soak the wrought iron parts of your door in it, and give it about thirty minutes to break the paint away from the iron. This might be easier if you remove the door from its hinges but be careful. Many wrought iron doors have large sections of glass, and they tend to be very heavy in general. If you can do it with the door on its hinges, try to.
Once the old paint is stripped, take a 1-gallon bucket of black, outdoor paint, and carefully paint all surfaces of the door. Because wrought iron doors often feature tiny details, you will likely need to do this process with a variety of brushes. Unlike wood doors, you can’t expect to coat everything with just a few strokes of an extra-wide brush.
Now, let the paint dry. This is easy if you do it on a dry day and don’t have many reasons to be opening and closing the door.
However, once a year might not be enough to keep the paint coating intact. Maybe you’ll brush against the door while moving furniture, a hailstorm will bombard it, or something else, and bits and pieces of the paint will get removed.
Do not leave those areas exposed. Get some outdoor paint and perform little touch-up jobs every time you spot areas with peeling or flaking paint. You don’t need to perform daily inspections of your front door, but fix little problems as you notice them to prevent bigger problems later on.
3: Washing the Door
Now, while it’s typically a good idea to keep your door as dry as possible, you do need to wash it.
This is because dirt and grime build up on the surface of the door, and those hold moisture, or they damage the protective paint in some cases; allowing moisture to attack the iron directly.
Luckily, this isn’t something you need to do frequently, and it’s not a complicated process.
First, buy some Castile soap, or any other mild soap such as Dawn, make sure you have a hose at the ready, and you’ll need a dry rag or two. A sponge can also help with applying the soap.
Start by rinsing the door off well. This will remove the bulk of the dirt and grime, and it’ll make the next step a lot easier. Don’t forget to set your hose to a higher pressure setting to blast between the small details of your door, but if the door includes glass sections, be careful about how much pressure you apply to those portions of it.
Now, get a rag or sponge wet and apply the soap to it. Scrunch the sponge up a bit to make suds. Then, simply rub the door down with soap. If there are areas where there is still noticeable dirt buildup, try to knock those out manually while you scrub.
Then, it’s time to rinse the door again. This is the same as before, but make sure you get all the soap off the door. It’s mild, but you still don’t want to leave it sitting on the iron.
Finally, dry the door with a few quick swipes from a dry rag. If you pick a good day to do this, you don’t have to be overly thorough about drying it. Just try to get most of the water off.
You should do this about twice a year, or whenever you notice considerable dirt buildup. Whichever comes first.
Maintaining Your Wrought Iron Door: Repairing Damage
If you follow the steps listed above, you shouldn’t have to worry about the following tasks. However, every homeowner slips up from time to time, and you’ll eventually have to do one of these two maintenance tasks.
1: Touch Up Paint Jobs
We touched on this one earlier. So, we won’t go into too much detail. Basically, as you go about your day, small things can happen that ding up your door’s paint job. As that happens, and you notice little spots with missing paint, it’s your job to touch up the paint job. This will preserve the paint between annual repainting sessions, and it will keep moisture from reaching the iron at exposed spots, affecting the entire door over time.
All you need to do is grab a brush or two that will allow you to reach any spots missing paint and grab a can of outdoor paint that matches the existing paint’s color. Usually, this is just matte black. So, you shouldn’t have any trouble matching the color unless you painted the door an oddball color on your own.
Just dab a little paint on the exposed spots and let it dry.
2: Remove Rust
Finally, if rust does appear, you must take care of it. Simply letting rust sit allows it to quickly worsen. If you notice rusty bits, no matter how small, grab some sandpaper, and knock them off as soon as possible.
This typically isn’t difficult unless you’ve neglected it for a long time. It’s usually just surface rust and one or two swipes with sandpaper will get rid of it. However, this only occurs on exposed metal. So, you’ll also want to quickly touch up the paint once you’ve removed ALL the rust.
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