Caring for Your School's Iron Fence

Posted on: 15 December 2016

If you are in charge of the maintenance and upkeep of the grounds at your local private or public school, then it may be your job to take care of the iron fence that lines the property. This fence likely provides basic security around the school while also creating an aesthetically appealing perimeter. If you want the fence to remain as beautiful as possible, then follow the tips below.

Invest in Careful Cleaning

You likely understand that an iron fence can succumb to rust fairly quickly. The oxidation occurs naturally and is almost impossible to prevent completely. While this is true, rust should be removed periodically. Most people think that rust spreads from one area to another. This does not happen, but rust does create a rough surface where water can be trapped close to the surface of the metal. Water accelerates the oxidation process, so it is wise to release as much rust as possible to keep more of it from appearing. Inspect the fence closely and use a fine wire brush to clean away the rust. Small brushes made for basic cleanup work after soldering or welding are a good choice for the job.

Once the rust is removed, release as much dust and dirt as possible. Cleaning should be completed with a detergent that does not interact with the iron, scratch the metal, or contribute to oxidation. Cleaners called nonionic detergents work well for this purpose. These products do not contain soaps or abrasives. Also, they are pH neutral cleaners. Certain types of liquid dish-cleaning detergents, laundry soaps, and commercial cleaners are nonionic, so look for products that are labeled as such. 

Gently wet the fence and use your cleaner to scrub the grime and dirt off. Rinse the metal afterward and use a towel to dry it afterward.

Paint and Wax the Fence

If you notice a great deal of scratched and chipping paint when you complete your initial rust inspection, then use an oil-based paint to cover up exposed areas of metal after the cleaning is completed. If certain areas of the fence are rusted deeply, then apply a primer with a rust converter to the fence first before adding the paint. Rust converters contain tannic acid that converts the rust into a stable form of metal. This helps to retain the rusted metal instead of removing it. Removing deep rust is possible, but this can lead to holes and pitting within the fence, and this can look unattractive.

You should allow the primer to dry before adding the oil paint. The oil paint will also take a few days to dry completely, so keep this in mind. The weather should be dry for several days when you decide to paint. 

When the painting is completed and the fence has had a chance to dry, you should add a layer of metal-grade wax to the surface. This type of wax helps to create a water-repellent surface across the fence. Waxes made for metal typically contain a good deal of oil. Use a cotton rag to scoop up a small amount of the wax from your container and spread a thick layer on the fence. You should do this about two to three times a year to prevent water from oxidizing any exposed metal. 

Iron fencing can be a great asset to the perimeter of a school, and upkeep is necessary to keep the fence strong and free of damage. If you are unsure about whether certain types of deep rust or other damage affect the overall structural integrity of the fence, then contact a fence professional so an inspection can be completed.

Talk to a company such as Phoenix Fence, Co. for more information.