How to Restore a Cast Iron Fire Grate

A cast-iron grate that is black and clean refreshes the look of a fireplace.
A cast-iron grate that is black and clean refreshes the look of a fireplace. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

As winter holidays approach, it is time to take a good look at your fireplace. It may need some sprucing up before the winter heating season begins and it takes center stage as part of your holiday decorating. When the chill is in the evening air, nothing says "cozy" quite like a fire in the fireplace. While you're polishing the mantel and shoveling out the ash, don't forget your hardworking cast-iron fire grate. Details make all the difference to a good-looking fireplace and a cast iron grate can be restored to look like new.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Newspaper
  • Wire brush
  • Chemical paint stripper paste
  • Vinegar
  • Clean rags
  • Stove paint

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Remove the grates to a safe work area with good ventilation, preferably outside on newspaper. Put on eye protection and rubber gloves.

Scrub off any loose rust or soot buildup with a wire brush.

Brush on a poultice-type chemical paint remover. Traditionally these were highly caustic and hazardous to the environment but today there are several less-toxic remover on the market

Leave the remover on the grate for as long as necessary, or reapply if the first application did not remove everything. Give the grates a good scrubbing again with the wire brush.

Mix a small amount of vinegar with water in a spray bottle. Rinse the grates by spraying them down with the acid-based solution to neutralize the caustic action of the remover.

Dry well. Wipe down with a dry cloth to remove any dust.

Spray the grates with stove paint -- a high-temperature paint designed for such applications. Allow proper time for drying, according to manufacturer instructions. This is best done outside for good ventilation.

Replace in fireplace.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your grate is not too discolored after cleaning, polish the cast iron with graphite grate polish or a spray like WD-40 and burnish it with a cloth to restore its deep black color.
  • There may be a slight owner the first few times you use it.

References

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