Iron fences provide aesthetic appeal as well as security, but they can rust over time, which compromises the fence structure. It is essential to maintain the fence by checking it for rust and paying attention to fences around high moisture areas like swimming pools.

If you spot rust, you don't have to install a new fence, but you should remove it as soon as possible. These tips will help you remove rust from your iron fence.  

Prepare to Remove Rust

To remove rust, you need:

  • work gloves and eye goggles
  • chalk
  • paper towels
  • tarp
  • wire brush or medium-grit sandpaper and disc sander
  • non-ionic soap
  • weed trimmer
  • paper
  • rust-blocker and rust converter 
  • mineral spirits or white vinegar
  • two three-inch disposable
  • paint brushes
  • metal-grade primer and paint
  • metal-grade wax

Trim the weeds and tall grass around the fence. Lay down a tarp to protect vegetation you don't want to be touched by repair materials. Check the amount of rust on the fence, including crevices and ornamental parts, which are susceptible to moisture. To make repair easier, mark the damage areas with chalk.

Scrape the Rust

If there is surface rust that hasn't flaked, scrape it with a wire brush, or use a medium-grit sandpaper and disc sander working in a circular motion. Squirt some non-ionic soap on the fence, rinse it with a hose, and let it dry completely. 

To remove tough grime or remaining flakes, soak a paper towel in mineral spirits or white vinegar. Leave the paper towel on the area several minutes, then rinse. Spray a rust converter on areas that have already rusted to transform rust into a protective, ready-to-paint coating.

Prime and Paint

Residential fences built before 1978 could be painted with lead paint. Use a lead test kit to check, and don't proceed if you get a positive result. 

Brush on a thin coat of oil-based primer using even strokes, or apply a spray primer to cover large fences or ornamental parts. Regardless of what you use, ensure it is designed for metal. Allow the first coat to dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

Look for a paint in a similar color to the fence, or check with the fence maker for touch-up paint. Brush on the paint in the same manner with a clean brush and let it dry. Follow up with another coat, if needed. 

Coat the fence with a metal-grade wax to prevent moisture from sprinklers or pools from getting on it. Apply extra wax to decorations and crevices. Wash the fence every six months with non-ionic soap to protect the paint job.