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Stripping the paint off a wrought iron table and chairs and repainting


Q. I have a mesh wrought iron round table and 4 chairs. They were once my grandmother's and the initial paint on them is most likely lead based.. I would like to remove all of the old paint, probably 2 or 3 layers, down to the bare wrought iron. It was suggested that I use a chemical stripper so as not to create any dust. Does anyone know of any chemical stripper that is a good one? Does anyone have any comments about my project that would be useful? Also, once I do strip off all of the old paint, what is the next thing I should do? I was instructed to prime the wrought iron first, then paint? Is this the right thing to do? what is a good primer? Hope someone can help.


Joseph Rainone
- Franklin Square, New York, USA

Portable sandblaster

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I think chemical strippers would be a pretty messy business given the age of the old layers, and the mesh involved.

This is NOT an ideal HOME D-I-Y project unless you have a lot of experience working with hazardous chemicals.

The BEST way to strip ironwork like this is to give it to a shop that has SANDBLASTING facilities. Sandblasting will strip it like NEW and you can then do all creative painting you want on it with modern toxin free paints!

I realise this reply is WAY out of date. However, since finishing.com is the master referencer for ALL problems of this nature -- I just thought I'd put this solution on the record for some future enthusiast!

CJ Roy
wrought iron consultant & manufacturer- Abu Dhabi, UAE

thumbs up signThanks for the plug, CJ. Despite the age of the initial inquiry, the thread remains "alive" for other people to read and contribute to, so responses like yours are very helpful to the readers if not to Joseph.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. I feel the inquirer is concerned with lead poisoning. The cure he is considering is worse than the disease. The best way to get the paint off is in an Acid bath - preferably concentrated hydrochloric acid. BTW the ancient Romans used to have "baths" supplied through lead pipes, and some of them lived to a ripe old age (unless they were back stabbed first)

Rought Iranco
- DLH, India

May 11, 2009

Q. I have wrought iron chairs and table that I would like to repaint. What is the best way to get all of the old paint (probably lead based) off? Can the surface be smoothed a bit? Is sandblasting feasible or does it damage the iron?

Beth Hobbs
- Saratoga, California

August 31, 2011

Q. I have an old metal rail up the stairs in my house that has been painted for years gone by. The paint is wearing off and is now partially black/brown and still has tons of white. The wear is where people's hands have been. I would like to remove the paint, but cannot remove the rail and send it out for sandblasting. Any suggestions outside of good old fashioned sanding?

Sally Andrew
mom fixing up her house - Ventura, California, USA

Smart Strip Paint Remover

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August 31, 2011

A. Hi, Sally.

An iron or steel rail is a pretty husky item that you don't need to worry about hurting with your paint remover [affil link]. So try what is easiest on you first. Mineral spirits or turpentine would be my first choice. If that doesn't work then try a "caustic" paint stripper; these are rather like over cleaner. The strongest paint stripper, and it won't hurt metal, is methylene chloride, but this is really toxic, aggressive stuff -- you definitely need goggles [←affil. link] and rubber gloves [←affil. link], but the real issue is whether you can get sufficient ventilation to do this with reasonable safely because you don't want to be breathing this poison.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 25, 2011

Q. I have a wrought iron kitchen railing from the early 1960's and I wanted to have it sand blasted. But a friend said it would pit the iron. The paint has already worn away in places and I love the silver gray color and want to leave it natural but I don't know if the welds are going to look ugly. Will sandblasting pit the iron? Is this the way to go?

Sharon Pekar
- Cleveland Ohio USA

July 13, 2012

Q. Hi there, I have bought an antique cast/wrought iron bed frame and am wanting to strip it and have it powder coated. I have been told to have it sandblasted and after looking online this seems the best way to strip the paint. However I have also heard that sandblasting the iron can cause damage and that I am better to blast it with a less abrasive media. I have found a company that will sand blast it and powder coat it for me at the same time, and they assure me that the sand won't damage the iron but I just want to be sure. Can you tell me if blasting with sand is going to cause any damage and if so, what would you recommend instead?


Suzy McFall
Antique Bed owner - New Zealand

July 16, 2012

A. Hi, Suzy

Sandblasting is a manual process, or at least a manually supervised process, and iron is pretty robust. The idea is that they blast long enough to get the paint off, but not waste time sandblasting bare iron. If the blaster/powder coater is reliable, I don't think you have anything to worry about.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 17, 2012

A. Sandblasting can be done using very coarse sand at very high pressures, and might then damage cast iron.

That's why it is best if the same company does both the blasting and the powder coating. They should know exactly what to do.

I would not worry.

jeffrey holmes
Jeffrey Holmes, CEF
Spartanburg, South Carolina

January 17, 2015

I have a wrought iron kitchen table and chairs from the mid 90's. We have moved several times since I bought the set and the paint has begun to chip off of the chair and table legs. The color no longer matches my decor and I'd like to be able to repaint it a darker color. Can I just sand it and repaint with my father-in-law's paint sprayer or does it need professional attention? I'm afraid having it done professionally will cost way more than the set is worth but I really still love the set and don't want to buy new furniture. The finish was a sprayed finish to begin with because they didn't get the paint into the crevices very good if you look closely.

Karen Montgomery
- Salem, Virginia USA

January 2015

A. Hi. If you can hand sand it all, that should be fine. Remember to try to "feather" the edges around the chips a bit or you'll see a jigsaw puzzle outline around them.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 27, 2018

Q. I have double wrought iron gates that badly need stripping and repainting. I cannot find anybody to take on this job and as I am nearly 80 years old, is there a reasonably easy way for me to do the job. Many thanks.

marlene COLLIER
- Scotland, United Kingdom

April 2018

A. Hi cousin Marlene. Unfortunately, neither the lack of availability of local help nor your age changes what is involved in stripping and painting wrought iron gates. If the existing paint is well adhered and there is no major rust, you can just wash it and paint over it.

But if the existing paint is flaking off, something has to be done to remove it, or it will continue to flake off, taking your new paint along with the old. I would suggest the easiest, if imperfect, thing to do is wash it down, scour it with a wire brush to knock off any loose paint, and paint it.

If there is already a lot of rust on it, then after washing and wire brushing, you'll unfortunately have to 'paint' it with 'rust converter' and let it dry before you paint it. But there's no reason you can't do a little section at a time in between gin & tonics, or over the course of several days. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 30, 2018

thumbs up sign Thank you so much for your very helpful advice . I do appreciate it and will happily carry out your instructions which I am sure will be a great success.
Kind regards
Marlene (from a very cold Scotland at the moment)

marlene collier [returning]
- Aberdeen Scotland

May 2, 2018

A. Try Hammerite Direct to Rust Metal Paint (https://www.hammerite.co.uk) -- no need for rust converter. Specially formulated to perform as primer, undercoat and topcoat in one. Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

A. Hi again. Goran's idea is a very good one, especially considering your age; direct-to-rust paint is also available from many other suppliers like Johnstone's, Krylon and Rustoleum. Thanks Goran.
… but optimizing each step for its own purpose is always better than combining them -- I've never known a dinner to be improved by pouring the soup onto the salad, or scooping the ice cream onto the entree :-)


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Stripping and painting cast aluminum patio set

July 12, 2018

Q. I have a 50+ year old cast aluminum patio set (bench, 2 chairs, table) in an ornate "Oak Leaf" design. It has been painted multiple times but I suspect the paint changed from oil to latex along the way and it is peeling badly. Power washing has helped a bit but we'd like to have it stripped and powder coated by professionals. Is this possible? There seems to be a company in our town who uses a system called "media blasting." Is powder coating the way to go here, or should we just use the paint brush? We are very fond of these pieces because my father-in-law made the patterns for them for a Memphis foundry many years ago.
Thanks for any advice.

Linda Dobbs
- Huntington, West Virginia USA

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