Car­ing for An­tiques

Keep metal gar­den fur­ni­ture in tip-top con­di­tion

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - ANTIQUES NOW -

Most old metal gar­den fur­ni­ture is made ei­ther from cast or wrought iron. Cast-iron fur­ni­ture, made by pour­ing molten iron into a mould, is bri!le and frac­tures eas­ily. Wrought-iron pieces, made by heat­ing the iron and work­ing it while it’s still hot with a ham­mer, is more mal­leable, less prone to frac­ture and gen­er­ally more ro­bust. Both types of fur­ni­ture are vul­ner­a­ble to cor­ro­sion if bare metal is le" ex­posed to air and mois­ture. It’s also com­mon to see ac­cu­mu­lated lay­ers of #ak­ing paint con­ceal­ing in­tri­cate dec­o­ra­tive de­tails, spoil­ing the vis­ual im­pact.

To keep metal fur­ni­ture look­ing its best, you should strip old paint, sand away any rust, prime and ap­ply a layer of new pro­tec­tive paint. If the piece dates from the early 19th cen­tury – es­pe­cially if it is made by a known man­u­fac­turer such as Coal­brook­dale – it’s ad­vis­able to seek pro­fes­sional help be­fore a!empt­ing ren­o­va­tions.

1 If the paint is in rea­son­able con­di­tion, start by giv­ing the fur­ni­ture a thor­ough wash with a sponge and warm soapy wa­ter. Use a fungi­ci­dal de­ter­gent if there is any ev­i­dence of al­gae.

2 Re­move all loose flakes of paint with a steel brush or scraper and a sand­ing block, as nec­es­sary. Wash thor­oughly again, then dry care­fully with a lint-free towel, tak­ing care that all crevices are com­pletely dry be­fore paint­ing ex­posed spots with primer and the fi­nal paint top coat.

3 If the paint is in poor con­di­tion, use wire wool, a wire brush or paint strip­per to re­move it en­tirely, wear­ing pro­tec­tive cloth­ing and gog­gles to do so. Cast and wrought-iron cor­rode quickly if left ex­posed to air, es­pe­cially in moist con­di­tions, so make sure the sur­face dries as quickly as pos­si­ble (use a hair dryer if nec­es­sary) be­fore ap­ply­ing a layer of anti-cor­ro­sive primer, and a paint suit­able for metal. (You can buy di­rect-to-metal, anti-cor­ro­sive paints in a lim­ited colour range.) Sand gen­tly be­tween each layer of paint and leave to dry thor­oughly be­fore ap­ply­ing the next coat.

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