Cast Iron

The best way to protect a valued antique cast-iron object is to keep it indoors. However, for the most part, a series of applications of paste wax will arrest the rusting process on surfaces of outdoor pieces (apply in the late fall and mid-spring). We advise consulting a professional conservator for other sealant solutions. Keep an eye on painted cast-iron objects, as repainting (or touching up) is generally required every couple of years. We suggest first wire-brushing any loose surface rust or paint, applying outdoor primer and then exterior paint in your choice of color. [As we are often asked to recommend "historically accurate" paint colors, we generally endorse the use of colors cited in period trade catalogues: brown, white, black, and dark green.] Please note: cast-iron garden ornaments were meant to be repainted, and doing so will not affect the value of your investment. Indeed, multiple layers of paint often endow these objects with "character" commensurate with age. However, if an excessive accumulation of paint has obscured details of the object's design, consult a professional conservator or iron-worker to discuss options for paint removal. There are several methods for removing layers of old paint, but be wary as some popular approaches may damage the surface of the piece. For instance, power-washing done skillfully can be effective and less harmful than sandblasting. We recommend sandblasting only in the most extreme situations.