Wrought iron patio furniture is the style to go for if you want a romantic, bohemian look on your patio. The vintage type, complete with a rusted patina, is an excellent option for patios rich in lush greenery. Why is wrought iron such a great option for patio furniture?
Wrought iron patio furniture has timeless extravagance and a classic visual appeal. It is versatile and durable. The best-wrought iron patio sets should have a protective coating and high welding quality, and they should be heavy, comfortable, and have a warranty.
This complete guide to wrought iron patio furniture will highlight beneficial knowledge, such as:
- What makes wrought iron so durable and visually pleasing?
- The history of wrought iron furniture
- The excellent qualities of the best-wrought patio sets
- Different design styles of vintage wrought iron furniture
- How do you identify vintage wrought iron patio sets?
- How to identify the best wrought iron patio furniture
- How to care for your outdoor wrought iron furniture
What Is Wrought Iron?
To answer this question definitively, we need to define what iron is. Iron is a vital building block of life on earth. It is a component of blood, sustaining life by carrying oxygen in living cells.
As a mineral, it nourishes plants. In industry, it is the cornerstone of the steel industry.
As an ore, iron is grayish, shiny, hard, and brittle. It quickly corrodes on exposure to high temperatures and moist air. It is the most abundant metallic ore on earth. The earth’s core is mostly iron. This makes the ore an affordable material for industrial purposes.
As per the Royal Society of Chemistry, over 90% of all industrial metal refining centers on iron. Metal smelting industries refine iron to make steel, a hard ore that combines carbon and iron. Steel is so sturdy; it is indispensable to the civil and manufacturing industry.
Wrought iron is iron ore with a less than 0.1% level of carbon in it.
It also has a 1% or 2% mix of slag. Slag is a byproduct of the smelting process, and it comprises sulfur, aluminum oxide, silicon, and phosphorus. This combination of elements makes wrought iron so pliable that blacksmiths can heat it or weld it, yet it will not harden.
They can soften in an ordinary furnace and will not turn into a fluid, even under intense heating. If the smelter increases the carbon levels by a minute, 0.65%, the iron will turn to steel, strong and tensile. A 2% level of carbon will turn ordinary iron ore to cast iron.
How Do Blacksmiths Make Wrought Iron Items?
Blacksmiths will ‘work’ wrought iron with a hammer while hot to shape it to its last form. The end product is a soft fibrous in appearance wrought iron item. This ore can be reheated and into a variety of shapes, and it becomes stronger over time as the smiths work on it.
For this reason, wrought iron also goes by the title of worked iron.
The beauty of this malleable ore is that it resists breakage, so it might have a dent if it gets a hard fall, but it will not fail or break.
Some patio furniture buyers might not comprehend the difference between cast iron and wrought iron patio furniture. Cast iron is iron ore with 2% carbon content; the advent of the cast iron smelting is a turning point in the art of iron smelting.
It made it possible for middle age blacksmiths to produce more cast iron items faster and cheaper than they did with wrought iron items.
Cast iron is inexpensive if you compare it to wrought iron. It is a mass-market type of ore since blacksmiths would mass-produce items from it via smelting. They would pour the pig iron or iron ore into molds, then leave it to cool and solidify.
When cast iron cools, it forms long graphite flakes and can break under stress. Cast iron patio furniture is, therefore, more prone to breakage than wrought iron patio furniture is.
Why Buy Wrought Iron Patio Furniture?
In the world of furniture, there are a few items as classic as wrought iron. Wrought iron has a colorful history and is one of man’s oldest innovations. It has fought wars, built landmark structures, railways, and warships. It is through iron working that kingdoms rose to prominence through agricultural production and conquest.
Archeologists have found ironwork as ancient as 3500 BC, and it was a staple metal of the early Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Mycenaean Greeks, and the Hittites. Wrought iron took over Europe in the 5th century BC. In the past, bloomeries would produce wrought iron in their chimney and pit furnaces.
Here, the spongy mass of iron ore would, through extensive hammering, turn into useful items. 16th century wrought ironwork is highly decorative and sophisticated. Remnants of its beautiful works remain in Notre Dame and cathedrals, such as the Winchester and Canterbury in England.
It has forged exquisite gates and railings in London. You will find its first-rate French designs in New Orleans’ old architecture. Over time, mild steel that has the qualities of wrought iron greatly diminished the use of wrought iron. Mild steel is low in carbon, easier to mass-produce, and therefore, cheaper.
The last classic wrought ironworks ceased in the 70s. Most heirloom-quality wrought iron products today have undergone restoration. Any new wrought iron product is a basic mild steel product, a part of the growing artisanal blacksmith movement trying to meet the new demand for the classic wrought iron look.
Worked mild steel is captivating and labor-intensive. All the same, its beauty cannot match that of wrought iron items. They are worth every penny and will last generations, satisfying a wide range of tastes. Buying wrought iron furniture is joining a movement that is thousands of years in the making and will be of high significance for years to come.
Classic Visual Appeal
Wrought iron furniture is in style despite its centuries-old aesthetics. It is the type of look that appreciates. Wrought iron patio furniture is both visually appealing and long-lasting. It is also very comfortable and will fit right into any environment.
You can have ornate designs that complement the classic patio look. There are also modern, sleek, but unfussy designs for the contemporary patio setting. You can mix and match patio wrought iron furniture seamlessly, combining colors and textures to bring your look together.
Some of the most popular classic and contemporary wrought iron patio furniture designs include:
Rococo and Baroque Wrought Iron Style
The Rococo and Baroque age were wrought iron’s most ornate design eras. Any ore items from this period were worked on using a hammer and anvil. Most of the elaborate looks have medieval and classic imagery.
It was a popular form of metallic items design popular with cathedrals and palaces in Europe. Baroque style wrought iron made rich and bold screens, railings, balcony railings, and gateways that feature in every tourist’s selfies.
Puddling and Henry Cort Designs
These creations made malleable wrought iron by puddling—a process invented by Henry Cort in 1784. The ore was then hand designed to make quality creative products, which do not have a machine look to them.
Another unique feature about this process is how it eliminates all impurities from the iron. During heating, the metal doesn’t touch the charcoal fuel, and after the puddling process, more impurities were removed by shingling.
Jugendstil or Art Nouveau Style
Art Nouveau is a late 19th century and early 20th-century decorative style that deeply impacted architecture and design forms. It is French for ‘new art.’ Furniture pieces in this style have a futuristic look. Jugendstil, which loosely translates to “Young Style,” is Germany’s take on the 20th-century crafts and design movement.
Jugendstil patio furniture is inspired by nature and deviates from the classic wrought iron styles, focusing on artisanship and creativity. Art Nouveau patio furniture will have a moving fluidity in shape and form.
If it has patterns, they will be organic and will have embellishments of whiplash motifs. Sets made in this aesthetic splendidly combine diverse metals, wood, and large glass surfaces.
The first picture that comes to mind when buyers think of metallic furniture is a cramped up sitting quarter and a rigid look. Some have wrong notions of bland monochrome patio furniture. This does not have to be the case with wrought iron patio furniture.
You will find metallic patio furnishings in a wide range of colors, finishes, and ergonomic designs. Wrought iron is highly customizable, making it easier for buyers to find the perfect look and fit for their comfort spots.
Choosing Wrought Iron Furniture for Your Cozy Retreat
Below are some tips that you can apply when choosing wrought iron furniture for your cozy retreat.
- Your sun terrace or deck is the perfect spot for relaxation and entertaining. For this reason, you do not have to go for the classic wrought iron black shade. These fittings come in a wide range of colors, including bright greens, blues, yellows, reds, and white.
- Add as much brightness as possible to your patio to make it plush and cozy. Most of these hues will elevate the wrought iron look. The bold buyer can mix different colors creatively for a unique look.
- These furniture sets are so versatile that you mix and match dining room sets with smaller chairs and tables to create an outdoor dining space. For an intimate look, use smaller wrought-iron tables. Such settings are perfect for the person who hosts large parties and needs lots of space to hold food.
- Metallic benches are excellent for the outdoor feel. You will find them in a variety of colors. Some might have high or low backs and may or may not have arms. If you dislike the metallic feel when sitting on them, add some upholstery cushions.
- The cushions will turn the bench into a snuggly sitting spot and add a dash of color to your patio. To tie up a mix and match selection of patio layouts, use matching cushion accent colors.
- Use iron ore tables to suit all your outdoor needs. You can have a small wrought iron stand as a drinks holder and larger pieces for food platters.
- Every patio and deck serves an iron rocker for those cool evenings when you just need to unwind. Wrought iron rockers come in various styles. Throw in an extra stool, and you have the perfect spot for your feet.
When window-shopping for metallic patio furniture, you will most certainly come across aluminum sets. Do you know there are cast aluminum sets that display that coveted wrought iron look at half the costs of the real deal?
Aluminum might be rustproof and weather-resistant, but it is neither as heavy, durable, or tough as wrought iron is. Besides being one of the oldest patio sets material, wrought iron is beautiful, sturdy, and less prone to denting. If you live in an area frequented by strong winds, go for wrought iron sets.
The strong winds will not blow them away or break them. While wrought aluminum makes ornate garden sets, it cannot beat the classic wrought iron outdoor sets look. This exquisite patio furniture material may cost more than the ordinary patio furniture set does, but it will last you a lifetime with good care.
The longer your deck furniture lasts, the more you save over time. The beauty of the wrought iron set is that it has an evergreen aesthetic, meaning you will not have to change it a few years down the line.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Wrought Iron Patio Furniture
Wrought iron is the material to go for when you need permanence and strength. It is long-wearing and does not sacrifice durability for good looks. It is a fantastic blend of ruggedness and elegance.
That said, not all iron ore furniture is of excellent quality. Below are a few crucial features that you should look out for when picking the best wrought iron patio furniture.
Wrought iron sets are elegant and sturdier than aluminum sets, but they have an Achilles’ heel: iron rusts. To keep it rust-free, manufacturers coat it to prevent oxidation on exposure to air and water. The coating process is laborious and long.
It kicks off with a wash and treatment than an undercoat made from an epoxy primer. Afterward, the blacksmith will layer the set with a powder coating made from thick polyurethane. A furniture set maker that cuts the corner on this process will have an inferior patio set that only has a spray paint coat as protection.
The Quality of the Welding
To keep the furniture free of rust, the best manufactures will weld the intersections of iron components. The circular welds are then sanded and ground to create a smooth transition. Poor quality patio furniture will have shoddy, tough joints that will rust over time.
Before buying patio furniture, especially chairs, most people take a seat to feel how comfortable they are. However, to identify the best wrought iron furniture, there’s something else you should do before taking out your wallet, lift the furniture. Yes! Wrought iron sets should be hefty and solid. Light items are of inferior quality, so don’t skip this test to help you avoid buying counterfeits.
Metallic furniture has shed that clucky uncomfortable persona and is now made with your relaxation needs in mind. Artisans handcraft wrought iron furniture for coziness. On the other hand, low-quality mass-produced furniture will not be as comfortable. So, this is where you need to do the “seating” test to be sure your furniture will be as cozy as you’d like.
Every proficient wrought iron furniture artisan will stand behind their creation. The best manufactures have up to seven-year warranties on their goods. There are those who even give two-decade-long warranties. This is a guarantee that the pieces are of high quality and will serve you for a lengthy period of time.
How to Care for Your Outdoor Wrought Iron Furniture
Your wrought iron furniture sets will last longer if you devote some time to their care and cleaning. To maintain your fancy furniture, follow the tips below:
- Your patio set might be life-proof, but inclement weather might weather away its protective coating. Protect it using protective covers or moving it indoors away from heavy rain or snow.
- Your wrought iron furniture can withstand a lot of outdoor use punishment and won’t bend or break. Heavy falls, however, will chip at the coating. To minimize any damage to the frame, touch up the outer coating or paint before rust sets in.
- Once a year, before the rainy season sets in, wipe your patio sets down using a soapy solution and a non-abrasive cloth. Once the furniture is dry, seal it with a spray wax to fortify it against rust and rain damage.
- If your wrought iron patio set break, do not despair. It is easy to fix. Contact your manufacturer, and they will have it back on your patio in no time.
How Do You Identify Vintage Wrought Iron Patio Sets?
If you are looking for an antique set’s sturdy quality and style, there are a few features that you should keep a keen eye on.
- The vintage set will have a higher price tag than cast aluminum, iron, and steel sets. A side chair, for instance, can go for $100, while a dining set may cost $1000.
- Unlike cast iron pieces, wrought iron patio sets will not have mold lines since their ore is ‘worked’ by a blacksmith.
- A wrought iron item should be heavy to move around.
- It should have rust if it does not have a coat of varnish or paint.
- To differentiate between wrought iron and wrought aluminum patio sets, perform the magnetic test. If the furniture attracts the magnet, then it is iron.
- Wrought iron has a textured surface caused by hammer marks. Uniform surfaces are steel or cast iron.
Elegant and timeless wrought iron patio furniture is one of the best investments you can make for outdoor spaces. High-quality furniture will last a lifetime and have timeless elegance. To purchase the best wrought iron sets for your patio, study the following aspects of the items:
- LiveScience: Iron (Element) – Facts, History, Where It Is Found, How It Is Used
- RSC: Iron – Element information, properties and uses
- Carolina Rustica: How is Wrought Iron Made? – History of Steel
- Machine Design: What’s the Difference Between Cast and Wrought Iron?
- Timeless Wrought Iron: The Complete History of Wrought Iron
- John Desmond: The evolution of decorative ironwork
- Study: Art Nouveau Furniture: History & Characteristics
- The Art Story: Jugendstil Movement Overview
- Ofdesign: 21 wrought iron garden furniture – Highlights the graceful air
- Today’s Patio: How To Identify Quality Wrought Iron Furniture
- The Southern Company: Wrought Iron Furniture is Still in Style
- Country Living: Wrought Iron Furniture
- Love to Know: How to Identify Vintage Wrought Iron Furniture