Restoring French garden gate

linnea56October 10, 2013

Restoring French garden gate

I posted in antiques too, but since I'd like opinions as to what would look best when this project is finished, thought I should try here as well.

I recently bought an antique wrought iron French garden gate at an antique store. The plan is to use it as a focal point in my front yard; and perhaps grow morning glories on it. It has a very unusual design in how several of the elements are forged. For a solid hard metal object, it just seems to have so much life and movement. It still bears a lot of the original blue green paint, but there is a considerable amount of rust, especially on the back. Part of the reason why I was attracted to it is that the color would go really well with the trim on my house. Another friend told me that that color blue is very typical on fences in France, which supports its supposed origin. The friend who talked me into buying it promised to help me remove the rust. I know my husband will not understand buying, much less displaying, anything that is rusty; so I need to get it fixed up before I bring it home. We are working on it at my friend's house.

My friend ground all the loose rust off with a rotary wire brush. But that does not mean bare metal is exposed: the surface is still rusty but now none of it is loose. We have been applying naval jelly to it in stages to remove the remaining rust. I have used this before, and though it seems to remove rust, it leaves the surface black. Therefore it will still need some kind of coating (paint, sealer, lacquer), but hopefully the rusting process will be stopped and it will not penetrate through to the surface again.

From a design perspective, and a functional one, where should I go?

1 ) Match the paint and paint the whole thing a solid color?

2 ) Seal the formerly rusted areas and leave them black?

3) Match the paint, touch up just the formerly rusted areas, and then clear coat the whole thing to retain some of the "antique" effect that a little rust gives it?

Here are some "before" pictures:

Overall view of the whole thing from the back, showing more rust:

A detail of the front, with how much rust shows there:

A small detail from the front, with the rust highlighting some of the detail:

Thanks for your help!

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For me, I'd seal it and leave it aged.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 6:29AM
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I agree.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 6:37AM
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It doesn't appear rusty to me - just a nice patina.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:12AM
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I'd paint it. Only because I have a black wrought iron trellis with Morning Glories on it and the trellis just blends into the background. MG's will completely cover your gate though, so you might think of planting something else.

I accidentally discovered how to age something but I'm not sure if it would work with your gate.

I had some large black candle holders and I decided to spray paint them red. When I put the first coat of paint on them, the black showed through and they were gorgeous! I didn't dare put more red on them. lol

If that was my gate I'd paint it, then put a small grouping of flowers in front so the gate won't be hidden.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:17AM
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Holly- Kay

I love your beautiful gate. I would want it to keep the lovely aged patina.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 9:33AM
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Elraes Miller

There is clear spray for sealing rust. I would leave the patina as is, a beautiful gate.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 10:30AM
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There is plenty of rust, I probably instinctively chose the shots that did not focus on it. :) ï The back is almost all rusted except for the finials. IâÂÂm guessing it was against some bushes for years and no one could get behind to paint that side.

Any idea of what clear spray I should look for? I know there are a lot of clear spays, but donâÂÂt know of one that is especially effective at sealing off rust. I also would not want it to be shinyâ¦matte or satin.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 2:58PM
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Elraes Miller

There is a specific clear spray paint specifically for rust. Ask in the store. An Ace is always great about stocking the unusual needs. The link is from Amazon. Local hardware stores would save on shipping.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clear rust preventative spray paint

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 8:45AM
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Thank you!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 5:41PM
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I bought an old wrought iron gate at an antique/junk store several years ago. Here it is at my previous my country phase. :) I'll post another photo in the next post showing what it looks like at my current home. It's covered 9 months out of the year. I have never done a thing to it and it still looks the same as it did the day I bought it. ;)

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 7:08PM
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The Clematis starts greening up around April and blooms from late May through July. It is starting to die back this month, yet some new buds have formed recently. I hope that they will bloom before it gets too cold.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 8:40PM
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I would take it too a powder coating company to preserve the wrought iron and prevent it from deteriorating anymore. The rust will be removed in the process and the powder coating will preserve any of paint color you choose. It's worth the money.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 12:21AM
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I've heard of powder coating, but thought it was strictly industrial. I never knew you could have it done to an individual item as a consumer. I'll look into it. I should search locally for that service. Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 1:54AM
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You can have things powder coated - I've had it done. Whatever you do, you'll need to remove all the rust because rust is like a cancer in the metal and if you just ignore it or cover it up it will continue to eat away at your lovely gate. If you want to treat it yourself, I'd take it to your local trusted paint store and show it to them. They can give you the best advice. Or, yeah, have it powder coated.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 5:30AM
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YOU don't need to remove the rust. Like I said in my previous post, it's part of the powder coating process. My DD worked for a powder coating company in San Diego, and had customers bring in everything from cabinet hardware to fencing. Some metals may not be able to sustain the heat.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 7:01PM
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