Wrought Iron & Cast Iron
Patio Furniture

Wrought Iron & Cast Iron Patio Furniture Summary:
  • Heavy and durable
  • Extremely strong and versatile
  • Medium maintenance

Enduring and Beautiful Wrought Iron

Wrought iron is a durable and versatile option for your patio furniture. The traditional and sophisticated look of iron patio furniture attracts buyers in almost any price range. Very good, high-quality patio sets can cost up to $3000, while cheaper sets can be as low as $200. Iron patio furniture sets are often less expensive than cast aluminum sets. The great strength of wrought iron patio furniture insures that bending or breakage is not an issue. It is about seven times stronger than aluminum. Much of the iron patio furniture seen today is made from wrought iron. Cast iron is much less common, seen more often in the Southern United States. Wrought and cast iron patio furniture is probably the heaviest patio furniture one can find, weighing up to three times more than a similar sized cast aluminum piece. The main concern is its susceptibility to rust. Therefore, the key to iron patio furniture is a quality finish.

What Is Wrought Iron Patio Furniture?

Wrought iron is a nearly pure iron mixed with a glass-like material. It differs from cast iron in that it is malleable, allowing it to be hammered into various shapes. Wrought iron also resists corrosion much better than cast iron. Wrought iron patio furniture is typically made from solid half-inch round bars of iron. Traditional wrought iron patio furniture was hand-made by blacksmiths in the 18th century, but today it is mostly machine-made in foundries. The process starts by melting high-quality pig iron and removing much of the impurities. The molten iron is poured over a glassy mass of silicate slag. The iron and siliacate form balls which are placed in presses that squeeze out excess slag. The iron is shaped with hammers or presses into the desired shape. From there, the iron is bent in a form. Better quality wrought iron patio furniture is welded together, while the less expensive variety is bolted.

Designs for wrought iron patio furniture range from simple to intricate. Maufacturers of high quality wrought iron patio furniture create intricate designs from aluminum castings that are made from hand-carved molds. Less expensive furniture designs are machine-stamped.

What is Cast Iron Patio Furniture?

Cast iron is an iron alloy that contains 2 to 4 percent carbon and 1 to 3 percent silicon. It is a harder alloy than wrought iron, and more brittle. Cast iron is made by melting pig iron in a furnace. The liquid metal is poured into molds, where it solidfies and hardens. The casting is removed from the mold and each piece, the arms, legs, seat, and back, are either welded or bolted together. Higher quality cast iron patio furniture is welded. Cast iron patio furniture is often very detailed with complex and ornate patterns.

Modern pieces of both cast and wrought iron patio furniture have coatings or finishes that are resistant to chipping, scratching, and rusting. The coating is extrememly important for iron patio furniture because of its proclivity to rust. The buyer should avoid cheap furniture that is only covered in spray paint.

Powder coating is one method that protects iron patio furniture well. The finish is six times thicker than paint, making it highly resistant to weather. This outer skin withstands rough treatment making it almost impervious to scratching, peeling, chipping, and cracking. The powder coat varies from smooth to textured. The outward appearance of a piece can be one solid color or intermingling colors that can simulate authentic antiques. With these handsome designs, manufacturers create the most elegant patio furniture one may find.

Maintaining Wrought Iron and Cast Iron Patio Furniture

Maintenance for iron patio furniture is a bit more than for aluminum. One needs to apply liquid wax once a year. When furniture is dirty, clean with water mixed with mild liquid detergent. The main problem is rust and it should be removed as soon as it develops. Use a wire brush or steel wool and then coat the area with several thin coats of metal paint. All moving parts should be sprayed with WD-40 as necessary. During winter months, the furniture should be taken indoors or covered. This will extend the lifetime for years. Iron is durable if coated properly by the manufacturer and maintained by the consumer. High quality and well-maintained iron patio furniture can last 25-30 years. The warranty is always a good indicator for quality.