How To Remove Rust Spots From Cast Iron

Why Does Cast Iron Rust?

Cast iron is a ferrous metal which is prone to rusting in damp or wet conditions. The familiar orange-brown flakey coating is caused when iron reacts with the oxygen and moisture, forming iron oxide. The rate of rusting depends upon the specific conditions, but will generally form over a shorter amount of time in warmer, wetter envrionments. Seaside areas will encounter the fastest rusting of cast iron items, as salt water is an electrolyte which conducts ions, thus speeding up the rusting process.

rust on gate latch

Cast Iron Door & Window Furniture

Cast iron door and window furniture is an elegant choice for period properties and modern homes alike. A classic, timeless look in sleek black and rustic pewter. These finishes offer a level of rust protection, however, interior door and window furniture is not designed to cope with the elements and should not be used outdoors. Interior cast iron hardware can also be prone to developing rust spots, especially in damp rooms, or on windows with gaps. 

Exterior door hardware and garden gate furniture has a hardwearing UV and rust protection coating. These are designed to be used outdoors, but please note that in coastal areas, the protective coating will wear and weather at an increased rate due to the salty air.

Black Front Door Handles

Ring Gate Latch

How to Prevent Rust On Your Door & Window Furniture

Prevention is always better than cure!  The best advice is to treat your cast iron hardware as soon as it is unboxed and maintain with regular attention. This isn't an onerous task and is well worth it to keep your cast iron furniture

Tips for preventing rust:

  • Apply a light oil onto moving parts when first fitting and maintain with an occassion rub of oil.
  • Linseed oil is excellent for giving rust protection.
  • Be extra careful when fitting screws to ensure the protective coating is not damaged.
  • Keep your cast iron product as dry and clean as possible.

What to do when rust spots appear

With constant use, the protective coating of cast iron hardware will wear over time, especially around the moving parts and the screw holes. Even with the most careful use, there with be rust spots. This is the nature of cast iron products, but do not panic! There are measures you can take to limit the spread and maintain the item. The most important point is not to use anything abrasive to try and clean the rust off, as this will cause further damage the surrounding coating.


Tips for repairing rust spots:

  • Wipe clean with an oiled rag.
  • For ironmongery which already has a black finish, apply a layer of black enamel paint such as Hammerite. This can be bought from any good DIY store.
  • Pewter items are slightly trickier to repair but Hammerite do a range of colours in their "direct to rust metal paint".

Rustic Style

As a final note, it is worth considering a different view of the rust issue for cast iron hardware. All ferrous metals are prone to rusting - ie mild steel, cast iron, wrought iron - and depending upon the surrounding conditions, even with the most careful use, this type of ironmongery will develop the ocassional rust spot. But instead of seeing this as a negative aspect, it can be a desirable asset. There has been a recent rise in the popularity of shabby chic and rustic interior design styles. Weather worn items are now collectable items and products are often purposefully allowed to rust, to achieve that perfect rustic style. So embrace the rustic character and don't worry too much much about the ocassional spot of rust. 🏡

rustic cottage style






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