The VIB is pretty lucky to have the original cast iron stairs at the entrance.
Unfortunately, the iron is looking pretty rough in spots (worse yet, eroded at parts) and I wouldn’t be surprised if it hasn’t been touched since 1897. To prevent further damage, the rust has to be stripped and new anti-rust primer and paint reapplied.
Without further ado, here’s what we spent a good amount of time during 4th of july weekend doing:
1) remove rust by scrubbing spots with a wire brush – we used wire brush attachments for an electric hand-held drill. and even then this was exhausting and time consuming!
2) use rust remover to treat additional spots — I used saran wrap to keep it moist for the half hour it was required to stay on. I don’t think we did this right, because after applying the rust remover, not that much came off and on top of that this made it harder for steps #4 and #5.
3) wash off and dry! iron
4) use brushes to paint the ironwork with anti-rust primer – we used rustoleum oil-based primer
5) paint with oil-based rust preventing paint – rustoleum again – you are supposed to give it at least two coats, and I have yet to get to the second one, but not that I am writing this, I promise I will!
*tip: use odorless mineral spirits (which i was pretty lucky to have from the time I waxed the floor) to clean brushes, which get pretty sticky from oil paint.
I underestimated the scope of the project by A LOT, one railing took 2 full days of work for me, Sergey and even our neighbor helped! It looks great, but man, there is a whole lot left to finish before fall!
If you want to know more, here’s a Capitol Hill guide to victorian-era DC wrought iron work.