How to Fix a Rusty Iron Railing


An iron railing makes an elegant statement and will last a lifetime if you halt the progress of rust, which usually starts where the posts contact concrete or wherever paint has chipped. Apply a rust neutralizer, touch up chipped paint immediately, and repaint the bottom part of the posts every year and the entire railing every six to eight years. Here's how to do it all.

Things You'll Need

  • Drop Cloth
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Paint Roller Or Airless Sprayer
  • Rust-inhibiting Primer
  • Sponge
  • Touch-up Paint And Paintbrush
  • Wire Brush
  • Cement Grout
  • Drill Or Chisel
  • Drill With Wire Wheel
  • Emery Cloth
  • Mason's Trowel
  • Sanding Discs
  • Scraper
  • Rust neutralizer such as Rust Reformer (Rust-Oleum) or Neutra Rust (NYBCO)
  • Drill or chisel out the concrete, leaving about 1/2 inch (12 mm) of space around the posts. If the railing is loose enough, remove it to make this task easier, and make any other repairs while it's off.

  • Position and brace both sides of the railing so it's plumb and level. Fill the holes with a fast-setting cement grout. Level and smooth the grout around the post with a mason's trowel. Clean the post with a wet sponge before any grout dries on it.

  • Cover the area under the railing with a drop cloth to protect nearby surfaces from stains, avoid contaminating the soil and reduce cleanup time.

  • Remove any loose rust with a scraper and wire brush. Sand or grind the rusty surfaces to smooth them out. The goal is to make them look neat when painted, not to remove all the rust. Use a wire brush or a wire wheel on an electric drill, or hand-sand with emery cloth, as seems appropriate.

  • To halt the corrosion process, chemically neutralize the rust. Brush on a rust neutralizer according to the product directions.

  • Remove any loose paint. For a better bond, degloss the surface with emery cloth. Emery cloth won't tear like sandpaper on hard-to-sand areas.

  • Scrub with a solution of laundry detergent and water to remove all dust and grime.

  • Apply two coats of rust-inhibiting (direct-to-metal) primer and a paint topcoat. If you're using spray paint, hold the spray nozzle 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) from your work and keep the can moving. To avoid drips, paint out of, not into, interior corners, and check just-painted areas frequently. If you lay on the paint with a roller or an airless sprayer, immediately follow up with a brush to work it into the surface.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a paint conditioner such as Penetrol to better seal the surface. Mix it into the primer or brush it on.
  • When spraying, it's better to apply several light coats than a single heavy one.
  • Wear goggles and clothing that covers your skin. If your railing was installed prior to 1978, see <a href="" target="_top">How to Solve a Lead-Paint Problem</a> for special precautions you need to take.

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