How to Paint a Wrought Iron Fence

person painting a wrought iron fence

When your wrought iron fence loses its luster and starts to show signs of rust and flaking, it’s time to restore its beauty. Painting a wrought iron fence not only enhances its appearance but also helps protect it from further damage. Find out how to paint a wrought iron fence below.

Your Estimated Investment
DIY Skill LevelModerate
Approximate Time2 to 3 days
DIY Cost of Safety Gear$18 to $78
DIY Cost of Prep Tools$52.50 to $138
DIY Cost of Painting Tools$86.50 to $166.50
Total Estimated Cost$157 to $382.50

Difficulty Level

person painting a metallic fence
Photo Credit: studo58 / Canva Pro / License

Painting a wrought iron fence is a relatively easy job, but it requires a lot of time and precise work. It takes effort to remove all the old paint and rust and neatly paint all the curves and nooks. And remember, each coat of paint or primer must dry before you apply the next coat. Therefore, the estimated time for completion is between 2 and 3 days, depending on the size of the fence.

As you’ll be working with paint, you’ll need safety gear, which may cost $36 to $78, excluding safety clothing. You especially need to be careful if you’ll be working with spray paint. You’ll also need to prepare your fence, and if you don’t already have the tools to do that on hand, they’ll cost $52.50 to $138.They may also cost more if you have a large fence. You don’t necessarily need all the prep tools we’ve listed, but if you do have them, they’ll make the job easier.

Painting tools should cost $135.50 to $166.50 or more, once again depending on the size of your fence. If you choose between brush painting or spray painting rather than doing both, you can save between $8 and $80 on equipment (spray painting being the more expensive option). But because wrought iron fences often have intricate details that are difficult to paint, the job will likely be easier if you use both.

This brings the total estimated cost of painting a wrought iron fence to between $157 and $382.50. In the least expensive scenario, you’d use only a brush and a paint roller. In the more expensive scenario, you’d also use a spray gun. However, painting a big fence may cost a bit more.

If you want to find out more about the costs of fence painting, check out our general fence painting costs guide.

Let’s see which options are right for you.

What Paint to Choose

Paint is paint, right? Wrong. A wrought iron fence is metal, so you can’t use the same paint you’d use on interior walls or wooden surfaces. Instead, the best paint for wrought iron fencing is high-quality, exterior-grade paint for metal surfaces. This type of paint is formulated to withstand the elements and provide long-lasting protection against rust and corrosion.

Oil-based paint is recommended for metal surfaces. It adheres better and helps prevent rust. But in any case, you should always use an oil-based primer specifically designed for metal. Primer helps the paint adhere better to the surface. It also creates a barrier between the metal and the paint, protecting your fence from rust and corrosion.

Moreover, you’ll have a choice between using a brush and spray painting. Brushes allow for more control and precision but may take longer to complete. On the other hand, spray painting is faster and more even.

The downside of spray painting is that it creates overspray, which can stain surrounding surfaces and require additional cleanup. It’s also more difficult to control overall. Additionally, if you want to spray paint, you need a spray gun, which is more expensive than using a brush (see below). You’ll also need a respirator.

The choice between brush painting and spray painting is ultimately yours. In this tutorial, we’ll provide instructions for using brush painting for most of the work and spray painting for the small, intricate details that would otherwise take extra effort to complete.

Once you’ve decided which method you want to use, be sure to also select the right fence color.

Tools and Materials You Need

person painting a metal fence
Photo Credit: mirsad sarajlic / Canva Pro / License

Safety first. Before you begin, it’s most important that you get the right safety gear:

Safety EquipmentEstimated Cost
Disposable gloves$9 (for 100)
Safety goggles$9
Respirator (for spray painting)$17 to $60
Total$18 to $78

In addition, you’ll need to wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and close-toed shoes.

You’ll also need prep tools. There are various ways you can prep your fence, and you could technically do it with just some household detergent, a scraper, and sanding sponges or sandpaper. But is it going to be an easy job? Probably not.

So, if you’re not trying to simultaneously fit in a workout into your weekend fence painting job, it’s a good idea to have the following tools on hand:

Prep ToolsEstimated Cost
Rigid bristle brush or a grinderAround $6.50 for 3 brushes or around $27 for the most budget-friendly grinder
Coarse sanding sponges or sandpaperAround $8 for 6 pieces of sanding sponges or $16 for 10 sandpaper pieces (you may need more or fewer depending on the size of your fence)
Power drill with a wire brush (optional, but recommended)Around $40 for a power drill and around $7 dollars for a set of wire brushes
Scraper$2 to $12
Lint-free paper towels$36 for 55 towels
Total$52.50 to $138

Some combination of these tools is optimal for creating a good base. For instance, use a power drill with a wire brush, then a grinder, a scraper, and a sanding sponge. But you could probably skip the power drill or the grinder and still get decent results.

You’ll also need to use household detergent and a rag, or a pressure washer. Pressure washers cost $246 on average, but if you already have one, it’s really useful for cleaning wrought iron fences.

Finally, you also need materials to paint your fence. You can choose between brush painting and spray painting, or do both.

You need: 

Painting MaterialsEstimated Cost
Red metal primer$16.50 for 32 fl oz
Wrought iron paint$50 for 1 gallon
Paint tray, paint roller, and paint brush (if you’re brush painting)$8
Spray gun (if you’re spray painting)$50 to $80
Tarp or another protective covering$12 (you may need multiple for surrounding objects)
Total$86.50 to $166.50

Total estimated project cost: $157 to $382.50, although the cost will vary depending on the size of the project.

How to Prepare Your Fence

Photo Credit: dontree_m / Canva Pro / License

Preparing your fence properly is as important as the paint job itself. Don’t skip this part, and don’t leave it out. 

As mentioned above, there are different ways to prepare your fence, and you can use the tools you see fit for your situation. However, the objective is to get rid of all the rust and old paint and create a smooth surface for the new paint to adhere to.

  1. Clean your fence with a household detergent and a rag or a pressure washer. If you use a household detergent, be sure to remove the residue with a rinse at the end. If you use a pressure washer, it should remove a lot of the loose paint and rust, making the job easier.
  2. Remove rust with a power drill wire brush. You can use different brush sizes for various parts of your fence.
  3. Remove old paint. Using a grinder will make a smooth, easy-to-paint surface. But you can also scrape away any loose paint using your rigid bristle brush. If it has a scraper at the back, use it to scrape any paint in the details of the fence that are hard to get to. If not, use a separate scraper to do that.
  4. Use a sanding sponge or sandpaper to remove the rest of the paint.
  5. Smooth the surface with a lint-free paper towel.

Before you start painting, your fence should be in tip-top shape. Find out more about how you can get rid of rust and repair your wrought iron fence in our wrought iron-fence repair guide.

How to Paint Your Fence

Now that your fence is smooth and ready to get painted, you can move on to the next part of the process. Here’s how to paint your wrought iron fence step-by-step:

  1. Lay a tarp or another protective covering underneath the fence to protect the ground from paint drips and spills. If you’re going to spray paint, cover surrounding areas and objects too. Additionally, make sure to wear safety gear to keep yourself safe during the painting process. 
  2. Prep your fence (see below).
  3. Use a paint roller to apply a thin coat of primer to the larger parts of your fence. Then, use a paint brush for the smaller details. If you want to speed up the painting process, use spray paint for the details. Take your time; most wrought iron fences have a lot of detail that requires careful painting. 
  4. Let the primer dry for about an hour, then apply the second coat.
  5. Let the primer dry for about 24 hours. Then, use the same painting technique to apply the first coat of paint.
  6. Let the paint dry for about 24 hours, then apply a second coat.
  7. Let the paint dry for about 24 hours, then touch up as needed.

Be sure to paint your entire fence and not leave out any intricate sections. Also, check the instructions for all products you’re using to ensure proper drying times and application techniques. 

Here’s a DIY video to make the project easier:

FAQ

How often does my wrought-iron fence need to be painted?

Most wrought iron fences need to be repainted every two to five years.

How long does painting a wrought-iron fence take?

Because wrought iron fences usually have a lot of detail, and because the paint takes a long time to dry, the project may be time-consuming. It depends on the size of the fence and the level of detail. In general, painting a wrought iron fence is a one-weekend project.

What does a rust converter do?

A rust converter is a chemical solution that is applied to rusty metals to chemically convert rust. This process can help extend the lifespan of your fence and improve its appearance. Plus, it can make your prep work a little easier.

Apply it after you clean your fence, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time and prep before painting. 

Is a wrought iron fence expensive?

Wrought iron fences are on the higher end of the spectrum. They normally cost more than other fences, but in turn, are timeless and durable.

Get the Best Fencing in Town

Wrought iron fences are among the most popular fence types, and they have various pros and cons. While they look great and usually last a long time, they’re not necessarily right for everybody. One of their cons is that you have to maintain them.

When you see peeling paint and signs of rust, it’s time to repaint your wrought iron fence. However, giving your fence the fresh coats of paint it needs may require multiple days of hard work. It takes patience and attention to detail. 

Would you prefer to fix and restore your current fence professionally? Or do you need a completely new fence? Get in touch with one of our fencing pros in your area.

Main Image Credit: mirsad sarajlic / Canva Pro / License

Judith Gallova

Judith Gallova is a freelance writer living in Slovakia. She found her passion for writing when she created her first blog at the age of 10. Later on, she started working in marketing, and eventually combined her writing and marketing skills to become a freelance writer. In her free time, she often studies the Bible, goes to the gym, spends time with loved ones, and enjoys all things art and design.