Classy And Versatile

By Ginny Frizzi

February 15, 2012 4 min read

Wrought iron can improve the look of many houses. It's easily added to various parts of a house, including over windows, around patios, as stair railings and on top of outside retaining walls.

According to, wrought iron is a specific type of iron traditionally produced by blacksmiths. The term "wrought" is a medieval past-tense version of "work." Wrought iron was literally "worked iron," as blacksmiths made the metal by working it under a hammer.

Today's wrought iron is primarily ornamental and most frequently used to improve the appearance of homes. It traditionally comes in glossy black. While the results can be attractive, installing a wrought-iron fence or accents can be a challenge for the average do-it-yourselfer.

Anyone considering installing a wrought-iron fence should give it serious thought, according to John Wilder, who has installed many wrought-iron projects.

"First off, wrought iron is very expensive," says Wilder, noting that it can cost $50 per linear foot. "You really need to decide if you are going to stay in the house long-term because rarely will you recoup the investment in resale. Having said that, a good handy person can install it themselves. They either need to buy or rent a good hammer drill for drilling in concrete so as to properly anchor the fence. Invariably, wrought iron is installed over concrete, although I have installed it on wooden decks."

Using wrought iron inside for a stair railing usually involves the purchase and installation of between 10 and 12 feet of wrought iron, which can complement the existing decor.

Instructions for installing a wrought-iron fence can be found online, including at eHow and The process involves anchors to bolt the wrought iron into the concrete. points out that a permit to install wrought-iron fencing may be required by local government or zoning boards. In addition, the permit may define the materials that can be used, including masonry and drilling equipment. Depending upon where the installation is being done, utility lines on the property may also have to be marked.

Wrought iron is more common in the South because people spend more time outdoors, according to Wilder, who lives in Florida.

"Down here, you often see patios surrounded by wrought iron because it sets it off as living space. In the South, people might spent 10 months of the year outdoors, which means the patio gets used. This is different from the North, where good outdoor weather may only last for a few months," he says. "With patios, a wrought-iron fence is used to define space and boundaries."

It often makes sense to have a wrought-iron fence installed by professionals, according to John Wilder.

"It might measure 300 linear feet, which, at $50 per linear foot, would total $15,000 just for the fence. If you're spending that much on the fence, you're probably better off paying a bit more to have it installed."

Also, he adds, "If you lack the skills or are not handy, don't try it yourself."

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