Cast iron is an attractive and solid material, which is why it is used on external doors, letterboxes, barbecues and other outside furniture up and down the country.
However, in order to maintain its attractiveness – not to mention usefulness – it’s important to look after your cast iron and protect it from the elements, in order to prevent rust and deterioration. Iron oxidises easily, which is why protecting it is not so much a choice, but an essential aspect of ownership.
So, how do we maintain the beautiful cast iron aspects of our homes and gardens? The following are a few ways to keep your features rust free and attractive, thus extending their life for as long as possible.
1) Beeswax – for Bare Metal
Beeswax is an affordable and simple way to keep your cast iron looking prim and proper and is used on bare metal work. Simply by applying blacksmith beeswax maintenance wax with a rag or brush, after rubbing any rust off with a wire wool, you’ll restore the cast iron to a great condition. It is also recommended that a light coating of oil is applied occasionally, due to the abrasion that occurs when wire wool is used to clear the rust before waxing. Beeswax is not recommended for outside use as it wears away quickly. It is best for indoors to give a lovely
Window fasteners about to leave the powder coating track”old” quality to ironwork, but you will need to keep up the maintenance by applying more wax from time to time. Just think of it as you would polish a table from time to time.
2) Powder coating
This is more something to consider when buying cast iron products than it is something you can apply yourself. Items with a powder coating go through a rigorous procedure. First they are hung on a track which is positively charged. They are then sprayed with a dry powder which is negatively charged. The powder particles are attracted to the positively charged iron and stick to it’s surface. The powder is delicate at this stage so the track moves the items into a very large oven where they are baked to “set” the powder coating rock solid, which gives them their solid finish and means they can endure the rough British weather much easier than other items. The powder coating often changes colour at this stage to the final colour required.
If you notice any damage to ironmongery with a powder coating, such as scratching, then don’t fret – it’s a relatively simple procedure to return your belongings to their former glory. Carefully touch up any minor damage with a special multi-purpose metal paint such as Hammerite, and you’ll have your cast iron looking good as new in no time.
3) Paint coating
If your outdoor items have a powder coating finish or not, it’s well worthwhile considering a paint coating for added protection. New products should not need this, but over the years there is nothing wrong with painting cast iron to make it last and prevent rusting. While many cast iron items may come with a paint coating, if they don’t then it’s something that can be applied, with care, at home – There are many metal paints you can buy. We recommend an enamel based paint such as hammerite. It’s also worth paying for a good quality paint as poor paints are runny and difficult to apply, they also wear away quickly. While a paint coating won’t last as long as a powder coating, it is a strong second, and will provide good, solid protection whilst fighting off rust for some time.
Ironmongery is attractive, and there’s no reason why you should be put off from owning it simply out of fear of what the British weather might do. Just keep a careful eye on your cast iron belongings and follow the above few steps, applying blacksmith beeswax at regular intervals, and your ironmongery will last through the winter and a long time after that too.
4) Oiling and Rust
In addition, don’t be alarmed when you see a little bit of rust: while many people panic and throw things out at the first sign of deterioration, rust is a natural process of cast iron. Just wire brush off the excess rust, paint over it with a good paint and give it plenty of oil on the joints, giving the joints a good “wiggle” to get the oil into the parts. It should loosen up and move freely. You often get more rust appearing in the oil itself. This is good, it’s working the rust out. Just wipe it way and add some more oil and move the joint until it stops. Simply follow the advice in this post and you’ll be able to get your ironmongery looking as good as new again.
That’s our advice, but we want to hear from you. Do you have any handy hints or tips for keeping your products in tip top shape this winter? Let us know in the comments section below, and stay tuned to our blog for more resourceful posts