Each year, one should make a habit of performing a thorough inspection of all wrought iron outdoor features, such as balcony railings and staircases. Through doing so, one can act quickly to minimise corrosion and perform stair and balcony repairs before damage becomes so extensive that these features must be replaced altogether.
Well-maintained wrought iron features can easily last over 30 years, whereas those which are neglected often must be completely replaced after a decade, so committing to timely stair and balcony repairs will save you money over the long-term. Likewise, an annual maintenance plan ensures the safety of your outdoor spaces—wrought iron which has been rusted through is not merely unsightly, after all, it is also often structurally unsound.
To begin your inspection, check the support posts of your staircases and balcony railings and verify that they are firmly rooted in the cement they are planted in. Make sure that rust is not attacking the bottom of any of these railings (where the posts join to the cement), as this is a notorious “weak spot” that easily compromises the integrity of wrought iron features.
Assessing the Condition of Wrought Iron
The most important thing to gauge, when assessing wrought iron, is the depth of the rust in the metal. The extent of the rust will determine whether your iron is in fair, critical, or irreparable “end of life” condition.
Wrought iron can be said to be in “fair” condition if the metal is still completely solid, but there is a layer of surface rust present. At this stage, making stair and balcony repairs is quite easily; the superficial rust can be removed, and the surface protected so that the rust does not quickly penetrate deeper.
Wrought iron is considered to be in “critical” condition when rust has penetrated into the metal to any degree. One must check for holes at this stage, as the damage may have reached the heart of the iron, at which point repairs may no longer be possible. If you detect holes or have reason to suspect that rust has penetrated below the surface of the wrought iron, it’s essential to call in a licensed technician to further assess the state of the metal. Until you are able to do so, you should exercise caution when using the wrought iron feature; often damaged wrought iron remains safe to use for many years, but it’s preferable to err on the side of caution and have it checked out and repaired (in as much as is possible) before you endeavour to do so.
Wrought iron is said to be in irreparable or “end of life” condition when perforations are clearly visible in the metal. Metal in this condition needs to be replaced entirely, though with routine maintenance, one may be able to squeeze another few years of use out of it. It is imperative to seek out a professional opinion before attempting to do so, however, as wrought iron in this condition is at high risk of being structurally unsound.