Retaining traditional ironwork such as gates and railings can be hugely beneficial to the quality and character of a traditional building. Such period features add to the look and value of a property, and are costly to replace if removed.
Many buildings in Scotland have lost their original boundary ironwork (railings and gates) through damage or deterioration, or in support of the war effort during the Second World War.
To work out how best to maintain or repair ironwork, you first need to know what type of iron you’re dealing with. Cast ironwork is generally flatter in appearance and heavier in design than wrought ironwork and is more often found in Scotland. Wrought ironwork, which is less common, tends to be quite ornate and delicate, as wrought iron is highly workable.
Regular inspections will help you to spot any signs of damage or decay so that you can deal with them promptly. Trapped water, lack of protection, fractures and impact damage and the progress of decay are common causes of problems with iron railings and gates.
Quality maintenance and repair work is vital. Poorly designed repairs and replacements can cause severe damage and spoil the look and character of historic ironwork. Replacements should always be on a like-for-like basis, and you should aim to replace only those sections of ironwork that are missing or beyond repair.
Boundary ironwork was traditionally painted a single colour and periodic painting – to match the original scheme – will protect ironwork and keep it looking good.
You may require permissions for work including repairs and the reinstatement of railings and gates, particularly if your property is a listed building.