What are the Different Types of Wrought Iron Frames?

Dan Cavallari

Wrought iron frames may be used as picture frames, mirror frames, or frames for other structures that may or may not be hung from a wall. A bed frame, for example, can be made from wrought iron. It is important to remember, however, that not all wrought iron frames are made from true wrought iron. Some are instead made from cast iron or even certain types of steel, since the processes for making such frames are much easier than the process of making wrought iron, thereby driving down the cost and production time.

Wrought iron gates can be both practical and decorative.
Wrought iron gates can be both practical and decorative.

The designs of wrought iron frames are virtually endless and are limited only by the builder's creativity. Wrought iron is generally fairly ornate, so it is likely that the frames will feature sweeping curves, points, and other decorative features that create an overall visually appealing design. True wrought iron frames are hand-worked and will feature a grain, somewhat like the grain in wood. This grain is a by-product of the wrought iron working process, as that by-product, known as slag, can harden into a fibrous appearance. They will often feature such a grain, if only slightly; this is one way to determine whether a frame is true wrought iron or another metal.

Some wrought iron frames are in fact made from cast iron.
Some wrought iron frames are in fact made from cast iron.

Wrought iron is also exceptionally heavy, so it is a good choice for bed frames, furniture, tables, and other objects placed on the ground. A chair or sofa frame may be used indoors or outdoors and can be topped with cushions for comfort. Lighter-duty frames may be made from steel instead of iron, as can wrought iron items used for outdoor purposes, such as planter box frames. Steel is commonly used because certain types of steel, such as galvanized steel or low carbon steel, are resistant to water damage such as rust and corrosion; iron is highly susceptible to rust, which means true wrought iron and even cast iron will need regular maintenance to prevent rust damage.

Full-length mirrors are a common application for wrought iron frames. Since iron is very heavy, it can also be very sturdy, which means it is often used for frames that rest on the ground rather than hang from a wall. Full length mirrors are, on their own, quite bland and unattractive, so wrought iron frames built around the mirror glass can enhance the beauty of the piece and provide a stable, sturdy base for the delicate mirror glass.

Today, many products marketed as wrought iron are actually built from galvanized steel cable and other similarly coated materials.
Today, many products marketed as wrought iron are actually built from galvanized steel cable and other similarly coated materials.

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