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Exterior metalwork requires regular attention to prevent decay. Maintenance and cleaning should be done regularly, and it is important to spot the early signs of wear and tear that could affect the longevity of metalwork, including railings. As well as providing architectural and aesthetic benefits, most exterior metalwork serves a practical purpose so proper maintenance is always worthwhile.

Iron railings are prone to damage caused by rust, corrosion and fractures, so maintenance should consist of cleaning, painting and oiling. It can help to identify the type of metal before working on it; ferrous metals (containing iron) are extremely durable if correctly maintained and protected from water and rust. Exposure to the elements can cause iron to expand to up to 10 times its original size, causing sections to be forced apart or become distorted.

Early detection of problems with metal gates or railings can avoid trouble in the future. Signs that work needs to be done on exterior metalwork include any damaged paintwork, such as discoloured paint, pitted surfaces or blistering. Corrosion or failing joints could cause squeaking, sagging or binding. Moisture and dirt can also cause problems, so look out for moss or plant growth that could be damaging the metalwork. If exterior metalwork is damaged, it is important to avoid cheap repairs. Inappropriate materials will hasten the damage to property. When hiring a professional to maintain exterior metalwork, be sure to find an experienced and reputable company such as Scott Anson Painters and Decorators Ltd.

Exterior metalwork is fairly easy to maintain and will usually only require the occasional hose down and wipe with a damp cloth. If railings are affected by sap, bird droppings or other debris, more regular cleaning with a mild detergent would be advisable but avoid abrasive solvent cleaners or hard brushes that could cause damage. A more thorough inspection and repair job should be carried out annually; replace rusted screws or fixings and tighten any lose bolts. If necessary apply new coats of paint, following the manufacturer’s instructions for length of time between coats.

Preparation is crucial to success when painting exterior metalwork. Brush off any old or flaking paint to ensure the new paint will bond to the metal. Scrape away moss, plants or other debris so that the new paint has a clean surface. Prepare the metal by roughing it up with sandpaper and cleaning away any dust and grime. Final preparations before painting should include protecting plinths and other connecting surfaces by fixing old newspaper with masking tape. When applying paint, remember that two thin layers will achieve a much better finish than one thicker layer, and be sure to leave plenty of drying time.