Tuesday, December 11, 2007


CAST IRON RADIATORS are a perfect feature for a period home particularly this time of year. These units are either wall hung or stand on their own feet. Exposure to harsh winters and hot summers can potentially be damaging for ironwork and rust can appear, so regular maintenance and upkeep is essential. The best way to do this is with a good brush down and a fresh lick of paint. Although painting is a great prevention for rust and damage, a painted surface can mask splits and cracks, so care should be taken when buying reclaimed metal work. The first step in the cleaning process is to make sure that the ironwork is clean and dry and free from rust. Various grades of sandpaper, wire brushes, flame cleaning can be used to remove rust and old loose paint. Most paint systems for iron require a primer, undercoat and top coat but some are designed to do it all in one coat. Either way, paint is undeniably the best protection and it should be renewed every 3 to 5 years. Colour is important and black is renowned to be the most popular for gates, railings and most exterior ironwork. However, it was not until the death of Price Albert in 1861 that black became popular , before this red, green and blue were all colours of choice. This was probably due to the more vibrant colours were more expensive to mix and were therefore used as a status symbol.

OLD WROUGHT IRON Dating back centuries, old wrought iron is highly prized for its fibrous and malleable structure. the original blacksmith's material can be hammered and beaten when hot and twisted and bent when cold. Its knobbly surface and non-uniform appearance sets it apart from cast iron and steels more uniform and smooth surface. Unfortunately, old wrought ironwork is no longer widely available, being so labour intensive to produce but many skilled blacksmiths and foundries still exist and produce beautifully decorative wrought ironwork.

CAST IRON, as its name suggests, it is formed by pouring molten metal into a mould or 'cast'. Although cast iron is not easily worked like old wrought iron, it can be successfully welded or machined. Cast iron is the traditional choice for rainwater goods and can still be seen on many Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian properties today. It was also a popular choice for larger items such as railings and gates, being cheaper and quicker to produce than wrought iron. properly cared for, it will last for centuries but its main drawback is its brittleness and risk of shattering.

MODERN WROUGHT STEEL This refined form of iron can be worked when hot or cold and is often used as an alternative to wrought iron. It wasn't produced in large quantities until the middle of the 19th century, but today has largely replaced old wrought iron and many examples will be seen around the home today.

Period House

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