Ornamental Iron & Metal Designs
Nothing gives a home the look of elegance and permanence like ornamental metalwork. Metalwork designs can be used to define boundaries, add visual balance, provide security and give support to landscape plants. Fencing, gates, balconies, pergolas, gazebos and decorative grills are just a few of the many ways ornamental metal is used to add beauty and value to residential properties.
What Wrought Iron Is and Isn’t
The ornamental railings such as those seen on buildings in many areas in Phoenix are just one example of the traditional use of wrought iron to enhance properties. The term “wrought iron” comes from ancient methods of working metal, during which it was “wrought” or hammered, joined and bent into various shapes. The composition of the metal was different in the past also.
Originally, wrought iron was made of iron and a glass-like slag, a substance that is essentially an impurity that serves to make the metal workable and corrosion-resistant. Today’s wrought iron is made of mild steel, which is less hard and is less expensive than the original iron. Generally, true wrought iron is only used in conservation efforts to preserve structures from the past. Many people still use the term “wrought iron” very broadly to mean any type of metal worked into ornamental shapes.
Ornamental Steel Metalwork
Mild steel, which contains less than 25% of carbon, offers many advantages for ornamental metalwork for today’s homes. It is very hard and very strong, yet is easily worked into an infinite array of designs. It is also weld able, which allows it to be fabricated into complex designs easily and cheaply. Mild steel is the most common form of steel used. It is often made into fencing, railings, balconies and other home structures. It can be painted or powder coated in many colors and textures. Mild steel does rust, however, so coatings must be maintained to prevent deterioration of the material.
Ornament Aluminum Metalwork
If humidity, the metalwork is near a pool, or daily lawn sprinkling is a constant factor, aluminum may offer advantages for metalwork designs. Aluminum will not rust like ornamental iron and can withstand the salt that is often a constant presence in the atmosphere. Aluminum can be shaped into as many ornamental designs as steel and can be finished to look almost identical to traditional wrought ironwork. If the homeowner prefers, it can be coated in a wide range of colors to suit home exterior designs. Aluminum is durable yet lightweight, which makes it easier to install on upper floors of homes.
Which One Is Right For You?
For the most traditional look and material, wrought iron, worked by a blacksmith using methods that are most similar to ancient techniques, would be the best choice. This type of railing, fence or gate would be very expensive, however, and it may be difficult to find artisans skilled in these techniques. Modern processed mild steel and aluminum, worked into Old World or Modern designs offer low cost and great versatility. Many metalworking and high quality fencing companies do this type of work routinely and can help you find the perfect metalwork design for your home.
Those living in humid areas or where there is lawn watering or pool nearby should consider the long-lasting properties of aluminum that can also be worked into many beautiful and interesting patterns.
If you are interested in learning about the options of metal fencing, gates or railings for your home or business, please contact Empire Fence to schedule a fencing consultation!