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Just like new 

We look at metal products in the garden that require general maintenance to prevent degradation from the elements


By Gina Hartoog


The change of season brings along some extra chores inside and outside your home. Your home and belongings outdoors are exposed to the elements and must be properly maintained to ensure their longevity. 

Our climate in South Africa may be temperate – we don’t have hurricanes and tornados, but the more subtle elements like wind, the sun’s UV rays and rain can also have a negative effect on metal objects that are kept outdoors.


Withstanding the weather  

Products that are used outdoors are manufactured from materials that are able to withstand an onslaught by the elements.


This does not mean that they will last forever; neither does it imply that they are maintenance free.


Mild steel, galvanised iron, aluminium and other metals can also be susceptible to damage if they are not properly maintained.


Rain and dew do have an effect on metal items. Rain leaves behind some elements and minerals, which may cause corrosion on metal items, but acid rain can be particularly damaging.


Dirt, dust, ash, insects and bird droppings can also damage metal or cause unsightly marks on the finish.


The UV rays of the sun are harmful and may cause fading and cracking of surfaces. UV degradation is a common problem with items that are continually exposed to the sun and can even occur through glass, damaging furniture and fabrics.


Rust occurs when iron is exposed to air (oxygen) and water. Rust can occur on all items that contain iron, including steel, a mixture of iron and carbon.


Generally speaking, the higher the temperature, the faster rust will occur, but it also depends on other factors. Temperatures may be moderate, but if the humidity is high, rust will occur faster.


At the coast items made from iron and steel are very susceptible to rust due to humidity and the high salt content of the air.


Rust causes degradation of the product, which weakens it and shortens its lifespan. In some cases, safety is critically compromised and may result in a serious accident, depending on what the item is used for.


Repairs and maintenance

A little TLC each year can keep your metal products in good condition.


Garden furniture

Inspect metal, steel or wrought iron garden furniture, especially if it is stored where it is exposed to the elements.


Don’t only look for rust, but also for fading and sections of loose or flaking paint. It is in these unprotected areas where rust will start to form.


Knock off any flakes and/or rust using a chisel and sand down the section. Rub down with a wire brush to remove loose particles.


For any metalworking job, surface preparation can be time-consuming, but it is essential. The furniture must be properly sanded and cleaned before you apply a rust remover, then primer, followed by the undercoat and two layers of topcoat.


Remember to adhere to drying times indicated by the manufacturer. This can be time-consuming, but is essential for a proper job.


Visit your local DIY store and have a look at the range of products. Some products can be applied direct to rust as they contain built-in rust neutralisers, primer and undercoat and help to cut down on work time. Also look for a product that contains UV inhibitors to prevent fading by the sun.


The key to keeping your newly restored furniture in good condition is to keep it clean and dry.


Avoid banging the furniture together as this can cause the paint to chip off again.


Wash down your furniture regularly with warm, soapy wash. Use a bristle brush or even an old toothbrush to get into the cracks and crevices to remove a build-up of dust and grime.


Rinse well with clean water and dry thoroughly, or allow to air dry in the sun. Use covers to keep the sun off your furniture.

Rusty window frames and burglar guards

Use paint stripper to remove the old paint layers and chip off pieces of rust using a chisel.


Next, rub down the frames with a wire brush to remove the last traces of rust. Wipe down the frame with soft cloth to remove dust and other loose particles.


Now inspect the condition of the frame. Any cracks, gaps and holes can be filled using an epoxy putty.


If you do make repairs, allow the epoxy putty adequate time to dry (follow the manufacturer’s advice).


Coat the frame with rust remover, allow to dry and then apply primer. If you need to renew the window putty, you can do it at this step.


Allow to set properly before applying an undercoat to the frame and new putty. Finally apply two coats of your chosen enamel paint.


Even if your frames are in good condition, consider a maintenance coat. Experts recommend a coat at least every 12 months. For new glazing, apply the first maintenance coats within three months and again at six months.



Your entrance gate is the first thing visitors see when they arrive at your home. A gate in poor condition won’t give the right impression.


You can restore your gate using the methods described above, again taking care to prepare the surface correctly before applying your selected products.


Because the project can be a time-consuming one, follow the weather forecasts over the next few days as rain can damage a paint job that is still wet.


Don’t paint on a windy day. Dust and insects may blow against the wet paint and spoil the finish.


Take extra care with the topcoat in your chosen paint colour. Use smooth, even strokes to completely cover the area. Allow the paint to dry completely before applying a second coat.


Correct maintenance will ensure that your gate remains in good condition even if it is exposed to the elements.


Keeping your gate clean will also help to prevent rust. Once or twice each year wash it down with warm soapy water. Rinse well with clean water and hand dry. 


Product spotlight

Window putty

Large areas of loose or missing putty in a window frame can leave the pane unstable in the frame.


Upon inspection you may find that most of the putty is still intact, but some areas are chipped or loose. A ‘patch up’ job isn’t usually advised, but if the crack or chip is relatively small, you can attempt a repair.


Strip paint from the surrounding area, then soften up the putty around the crack with linseed oil. Make the repair using a new piece of putty.


The putty needs a week to set before it can be painted, but do not leave it longer than 17 days without applying a first coat.


If the putty is fairly old, brittle and there are large areas missing, it is best to remove and replace it completely.

End box


Oxirite is a 3-in-1 anti-rust paint.

The product can be applied direct to rust, without the need for a primer or undercoat on iron or steel.


On galvanised metal surfaces, a coat of Galvanised Metals Primer is advised. For special metals, like aluminium, copper and bare zinc, prime with Anti-Rust Adhesion Primer.


Oxirite is quick drying and can be overcoated within an hour of the first coat.


Care should be taken when planning your paint job as the second coat must be applied within eight hours of the first. If you are unable to overcoat in this time period, you will have to allow the product two weeks to cure before applying another coat (24 hours for the forged finish).


Oxirite can be applied by brush, roller or by conventional or airless spray.


Surfaces must be clean and dry before painting. Stir thoroughly before applying the paint. There are 30 colours to choose from in a smooth, hammered, satin or forged finish. Available in 750ml and 2.5 litres.


Visit Oxirite metal paint


Alcolin Anti Rust

This is an acrylic-based corrosion resistant primer that can be used on new metal, galvanised iron and already rusted surfaces.


The product prevents flash rusting and contains both anti-corrosion and corrosion converting pigments to prevent surfaces from rusting.


It is water and UV resistant and is formulated without lead or mercury – a non-toxic formulation.


The product can be used as a primer for rust prevention on roofs, steel framing, metal poles, gates, handrails, window and door frames and other interior and exterior surfaces where rust may occur.


Surfaces must be clean, dry and free of dust and grease before the product is applied. Available in 1 litre and 5 litres.


Visit Alcolin


Alcolin Rust Converter

A carboxylated acrylic copolymer-based rust converting primer, scientifically formulated for use on rusted iron and mild steel, fencing, balustrade, gates and burglar guards.


The product chemically reacts with red rust and converts it to a blue-black inactive compound to prevent further rusting.


Surfaces must be clean, dry and free of dust and grease before the product can be applied. Available in 0.5 litre and 5 litres.


Visit Alcolin

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