How to Restore an Antique Wrought Iron Bed Frame

Alex Burke

Antique wrought iron bed frames may require extra restoration care if the iron has been damaged or is rusted. Rust can be removed easily with simple tools found at a hardware store. A light hand and the right kind of abrasive can prevent pitting and scratching during the restoration process.

However, returning a bent frame to its original shape may require some expert assistance. Protecting the wrought iron with a rust resistant product before painting will help keep the bed frame around for another century.

  1. Examine the bed for bent and rusted iron or missing pieces. Straightening the iron, removing the rust and replacing missing items, such as finials or legs, is necessary before you bring the bed frame back to its former glory. Iron does not bend easily and you may need assistance from a blacksmith if the frame is bent.

  2. Make any required repairs. Missing bolts, pins or other items whose absence will weaken the bed's structure should be replaced before the refinishing process occurs. Items that need to be reproduced will require professional help from a blacksmith.

  3. Remove loose flakes of rust with medium grade sandpaper or a stiff wire brush and scour the rusty area with a fine grade wool pad. Sanding removes the rusted area and the wool pad takes off a very thin layer of the wrought iron, leaving the rusty area looking like new. Wipe down the frame with a dry cloth to remove the dust and debris caused from sanding.

  4. Sand the frame to remove old paint and prepare it for painting. Removing old paint will leave you with a smooth surface for your new paint finish.

  5. Protect the frame from further rust and decay. Treat the wrought iron frame using a protective product after the rust, dirt and debris have been removed.

  6. Prime and paint the bed frame. Use a primer made for wrought iron for best painting results. Applying paint using a spray applicator can provide a smooth finish with little to no drips.

  7. Tip

    Cover the floor or work surface with a drop cloth and place the bed frame on top of the cloth to make cleanup easier. A spray booth or sealed area is recommended when painting the bed frame to prevent dust and dirt from attaching to the wrought iron. Wear a face mask and goggles to prevent inhaling particles of rust and to keep them out of your eyes. Don't use off-the-shelf abrasive cleaning products on the bed frame. Pre-made abrasives can contain chemicals and powerful abrasive substances that can damage fine details in historical objects. If you need to lengthen or widen the bed, a professional restorer can adapt the frame.