cast iron beauty

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.