How to Repair a Wrought Iron Fence

Wrought iron fence

Wrought iron fences are strong and aesthetically pleasing but over time will accumulate rust, which can lead to corrosion, stains, cracks, and bending. They require regular maintenance to maintain their durability and curb appeal, so you have to be prepared and know how to repair a wrought iron fence.

Homeowners can usually fix rust spots or small cracks and breaks themselves. More significant damage requires replacing parts of the fence and should be repaired by a fencing professional.

Common Wrought Iron Fence Repairs

  • Restoring rusted sections: Water resting against wrought iron fencing eventually causes rust. If you don’t clean away the rust, you will be dealing with even more rust later.
  • Repairing breaks and cracks: Exposure to the elements causes breaks and cracks in wrought iron.
  • Replacing loose or bent pickets: It is important to fix these to keep the fence supported. Bent pickets on a wrought iron fence can usually be straightened with the right tools.
  • Repairing or replacing gates: Wrought iron gates are not immune to damage or becoming misaligned. Usually, you can just replace hardware or tighten bolts, but if the damage is too much, you may need to replace the entire gate.
  • Repainting: Even the best paint will eventually peel away. It’s important to use paint and primer that is specific for metal and is strong enough to withstand the outdoors. The color you choose is entirely up to you.

How to Restore Rusted Sections

Rusty wire fence
Main Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures

Rust is the enemy of a wrought iron fence! Like an invasive species, rust will continue to accumulate until it takes over your fence, so you need to nip it in the bud before that happens.

Materials needed

  • Nitrile work gloves
  • Rust fillers
  • Work rags
  • Acetone or another solvent
  • Naval jelly
  • Mineral spirits
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Sandblaster (as needed)
  • Rust-resistant primer
  • Metal paint
  • Oil-based spray enamel
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Take photos 

Take photos of the fence before you start to make sure that the changes match the look of the original fence.

Step 2: Remove rust 

Remove the rust by using a mix of ½ parts lemon juice with ½ parts vinegar. You also can remove rust by applying naval jelly with a paintbrush and wiping it off with mineral spirits. In severe cases, you can remove rust with a sandblaster.

Step 3: Plug small holes

Plug small holes with rust fillers.

Step 4: Re-paint 

Re-paint the area with rust-resistant primer and paint. Seal with oil-based spray enamel.

How to Repair Breaks and Cracks

Close-up of bents and cracks in a fence
Photo Credit: Fanjianhua | Canva Pro | License

Wrought iron being exposed to the elements results in breaks and cracks. You should be able to fix most damaged pieces of wrought iron with epoxy putty.

Materials needed

  • Nitrile work gloves
  • Epoxy putty
  • Work clamps
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Angle grinder
  • Work rags
  • Acetone or another solvent
  • Steel wool
  • Rust-resistant primer
  • Metal paint
  • Oil-based spray enamel

Step 1: Prepare the surface

Put on work gloves. Gently remove grease, rust, and dirt with 600-grit sandpaper or an angle grinder. Soak a clean shop rag in acetone or another heavy solvent and wipe down the surface.

Step 2: Apply epoxy 

Apply epoxy putty to the area you wish to bond on both sides of the joint. Use a clamp or two to hold the two pieces of wrought iron together. Carefully clean away excess epoxy with a rag.

Step 3: Sand excess epoxy

After the epoxy putty is cured and dry, sand away any excess with the 600-grit sandpaper.

Step 4: Re-paint

Re-paint the repaired area with rust-resistant paint and primer. Seal with an oil-based spray enamel.

How to Repair Bent Pickets

Bent pickets in a fence
Main Photo Credit: Martin Brigden | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Pounding on wrought iron with a hammer won’t fix the bend, but it will make you sweaty. The picket will bounce a lot without bending. Pickets are probably better handled by a professional welder, but here is a trick you can try on your own first.

Materials needed

  • Ratcheting straps
  • Scrap lumber (optional)

Step 1: Place ratcheting straps

Pull some ratcheting straps in a full loop around the bent picket and all the way to the larger tubing at the other side of the panel.

Step 2: Place ratcheting mechanism

Place the ratchet mechanism on the side of the panel away from the bend so that it pulls the bend back into alignment.

Step 3: Crank the mechanism

Start cranking, and have a helper push sideways to keep the bent bar in alignment and direct the force. Take it slow and keep an eye on all parts of the panel. If the bar on the opposite end starts to bend, back it up with lumber inside the strap.

How to Fix a Broken Wrought Iron Gate

Close-up to the middle of a wrought iron gate
Main Photo Credit: Pxhere

If the wrought iron gate is beyond DIY repair, then get in touch with an experienced welder or replace it with a new one. You should maintain the fence regularly to avoid having it replaced.

Materials needed

  • Strong garden wire
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Metal brush
  • Epoxy
  • Oil-based metal paint
  • Spray enamel
  • Soapy water

Step 1: Clean and sand the broken areas

Clean around the broken or cracked area with soapy water. Remove the paint and any rust or dirt with fine grit sandpaper or a metal brush.

Step 2: Apply epoxy

Apply the epoxy to the broken parts of the wrought iron gate.

Step 3: Secure wire

Push the broken edges of the wrought iron gate together and tightly wrap the garden wire over the break until secure. Overlap the wire over the break a few times to make sure it’s secure.

Step 4: Repaint

Wait for the epoxy to dry. Sand away any excess with the sandpaper, then prime and paint the gate with oil-based metal paint and primer. Seal with spray enamel.

How to Repaint a Wrought Iron Fence

Rusty wrought iron fence
Main Photo Credit: Pxhere

As time goes on, rust will accumulate on the fence and the paint will chip away, ruining it’s appearance. Here’s how to touch it up.

Materials needed

  • Sandblaster
  • Paintbrush
  • Rust remover
  • Oil-based metal primer
  • Oil-based metal paint
  • Oil-based spray enamel

Step 1: Remove rust and old paint

Remove rust and existing paint with either a sandblaster or rust remover. You can use chemical rust neutralizers or a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar to rust proof the metal.

Step 2: Apply primer

Use a brush to apply a rust-inhibiting primer as a base coat to seal the metal from moisture and corrosion. It’s recommended to use two coats of primer.

Step 3: Apply paint

Wash your brush and use it to apply two coats of rust-inhibiting paint. It’s best to use an oil-based exterior paint that is specifically designed for metal surfaces. Seal with oil-based spray enamel.

When to Repair or Replace a Wrought Iron Fence

Despite its durability and longevity, wrought Iron fencing will eventually begin to show signs of wear and tear. You may start to wonder if your wrought iron fence needs to be repaired or even replaced. Here are a few signs that indicate that it’s time to give your wrought iron fence an upgrade:

How much of the fence is damaged?: If only a small area of the fence is affected, you should only need to repair your fence. If over 20% of your fence is damaged, then replacing it is the best option. Repairing multiple sections, again and again, will cost more than simply replacing the entire fence.

Age of the fence: A quality wrought iron fence should last decades – anywhere between 20 to 50 years. If your fence is older than this, it’s time for a replacement.

Would a different type of fencing material be a better fit for your yard?: If your wrought iron fence isn’t a good fit for your yard or doesn’t provide enough privacy, isn’t high enough, or simply falls short of your expectations, you might want to replace it.

Cost to repair vs. cost to replace: Depending on your needs and your budget, replacing a fence can sometimes be cheaper than repairing it. Repairing iron fencing costs anywhere from $120 to $1,350, while a new wrought iron fence costs between $1,300 and $4,200.

FAQ About Wrought Iron Fence Repair

What prevents iron fences from rusting?

Here are some effective ways to keep your wrought iron fence rust-free:

Wash your fence regularly
Apply protective enamel coating
Touch up the fence with paint
Get rid of rust spots before they spread
Operate sprinklers away from the fence

What kind of paint do you use on a wrought iron fence?

You should use a semi-gloss outdoor exterior spray paint that was intended for metal. Spray paint is preferred since it can get around the details on most wrought iron fences. Painting wrought iron requires an oil-based metal primer designed to control rust.

How often should wrought iron fences be painted?

You can extend the life of your wrought iron fence by reapplying paint every two to three years.

When to Hire a Fence Repair Pro

Why spend your free time sanding rust spots when you can hire an experienced and reliable pro instead? DIY fence repair is hot, back-breaking work, so if you’re looking for someone to take care of the hassle of fence repair or fence installation, Fence Gnome connects you to the best fencing contractors in your area.

Main Image Credit: Mirsad Sarajlic | Canva Pro | License

Lydian Pine

Lydian Pine is a creative writer and studio artist whose work first debuted in a short story anthology. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2020 and enjoys video games, theatre, and swimming. Lately, she has started to study entomology as a hobby.