The first step in choosing the best decorative wrought iron is to decide for which application you need the metal. Wrought iron fixtures can be used in the home as wall sconces, fireplace tools, and even chairs and tables. Wrought iron can be used to make a spiral staircase inside the home or outside the home, and it can be used to make decorative doors. Planters, arbors, trellises, and other fixtures outside and in the garden can also add a touch of traditional class to a space. Once you have figured out what applications you will focus on, you should learn about the different types of wrought iron.
Traditionally, decorative wrought iron was made by hand by heating iron and fashioning it with hand tools. This allowed the metal to be formed into highly decorative objects with sweeping curves and designs. Today, true wrought iron is much harder to find and is quite expensive, since simpler techniques for working with iron have been developed. Some decorative wrought iron, in fact, is not iron at all, but instead a type of steel. It is still labeled as wrought iron because it fits the aesthetic, but it is not true wrought iron by any means.
Steel decorative wrought iron may in fact be a better choice for some people than traditional wrought iron. Steel versions are often made from galvanized or stainless steel, which is much more resistant to water damage and rust than iron is. Iron is actually quite susceptible to rust and corrosion, so for outdoor purposes, steel is the better choice. If, however, you are looking for real, traditional wrought iron, be prepared to pay more and to do regular maintenance on the iron to prevent it from rusting. This may involve repainting the iron yearly or every other year, or scraping off rust that may develop.
It can be difficult to tell the difference between true wrought iron and cast iron or other materials. One way to determine whether a metalis real wrought iron is to look for its grain; real wrought iron often has a grain that looks almost like a wood grain, which results from the slag in the iron as it is heated and cured. Slag is a sort of by-product of the iron working process, and it forms a fibrous grain in the metal that adds to the aesthetic of the metal. True wrought iron will very often feature such grain, while cast iron and steel will not.