Garden antiques are all the rage these days, but like anything that’s in demand, prices have rocketed and yesterday’s scrap iron has become tomorrow’s object of desire. And the only difference between that old pig trough you found at the bottom of your garden and the trendy planter you see at your local antique shop is the application of some rust converter and a pot of paint.
The great thing though is that, unlike most antiques, cleaning and repainting cast iron antiques does not decrease their value. In fact the opposite may be true. You may find that beautifully restored old pig trough is now worth a bob or two and your restorative efforts have turned a nice profit on your investment and your hard work.
Use some imagination because anything from an old iron barrow wheel to part of a plough share can make an interesting focal point in your garden. All you need to do is to get rid of that rust which is gradually corroding it away. Old Stop Rust garden benches, tables and chairs, plant stands, rainwater hoppers, old wheels, fireplaces and fire backs, wash tubs, boot scrapers, agricultural and gardening equipment – they are all potential candidates for a spot of rust converter and a coat of paint.
That whole process of cleaning and protecting cast iron has been made much easier by the advent of rust treatment products like the Jenolite range. There are two products in the range – Rust Remover and Rust Converter. Rust remover is perfect for completely removing surface rust but the chances are that your antique object has spent many years, possibly decades, exposed to the elements, and it has built up a thick layer of rust that would be impractical to remove.
The solution here is not to try to remove it, but to convert that layer of rust into a rust proof layer. So, first get to work with a wire brush – either by hand or on a power drill – taking care not to damage your antique. Cast iron has a high carbon content making it extremely brittle and it may be all the more fragile for its age and condition. Once most of the dirt and loose rust has been removed, give it a really good wash and then, when completely dry apply a coating of rust converter. This clever chemical reacts with the remaining rust to create a rust-proof barrier and leaves a polymer coating which is ready for painting in less than 24 hours. It’s important to make sure that no untreated edges are left and that the rust converter is worked well into all corners and crevices. Unlike some rust converters, no primer is required when this brand of rust converter has been used.