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Steel vs Wrought Iron: Which is Better for Gates & Railings?

High-quality gates and railings can be the perfect finishing touch for your home. If you’re looking for ones that will last a lifetime, understanding the difference between steel iron and wrought iron can help you choose between each of them.

We’ve taken an in-depth look at both materials, comparing their key benefits and differences so you can get the best material for your garden project. 

wrought iron railings

Steel vs wrought iron 

The difference between the two materials is down to composition. Wrought iron is an iron alloy with an extremely low carbon content. It’s tough and durable but also highly malleable and capable of creating beautiful bespoke designs. Before the advent of steel, wrought iron was the preferred material for everything from swords to cutlery because of its ability to be hammered and worked into a huge range of shapes. 

By contract, steel is composed of iron and carbon. It’s extremely strong and resistant to corrosion. Once steelmaking became cost-effective, it widely replaced wrought iron as a metal of choice in buildings and other large structures thanks to its high tensile strength and affordability. 

But how do the two compare when it comes to creating bespoke gates and railings for your garden? 

Durability 

One of the top considerations for outdoor gates and railings is durability. Luckily both wrought iron and steel are tough enough to last for years without looking the worse for wear. 

The additional carbon in steel does help it resist corrosion and stand up to the elements. However, wrought iron is more resistant to vibration and shock. And unlike steel, it won’t fail suddenly with no warning. 

Because breaks in wrought iron occur slowly, over time, you’ll have the opportunity to repair your gate or fence whereas steel often needs to be replaced completely if cracks appear. This makes wrought iron a better choice in terms of longevity. 

Corrosion 

Steel that contains nickel and chromium is far more corrosion-resistant than wrought iron. However, with the proper care and protection, rust is highly preventable on wrought iron as well. 

rust

Design

For large areas of railings, steel is lighter and easier to mould in place. It heats up more quickly than wrought iron, making it easier to weld, while the carbon in the steel makes the joins stronger. 

However, the malleability of wrought iron makes it easier to shape and produce ornate designs that enhance your outdoor space.

Steel has to be have individual castings made to produce the same kinds of fine details and ornamental designs that can be crafted by a blacksmith using wrought iron. 

Both steel and wrought iron gates are easy to prime and paint so you can achieve the aesthetics that appeal to you. While both have a similar appeal, and look quite different to, there are subtle differences that could influence your decision. 

Steel could be the right choice for a contemporary garden design, because it maintains its shine for a bright, modern look.

Wrought iron, on the other hand, has more of a traditional elegance and will definitely give your property a more considered and timeless appeal. Wrought iron also develops a lovely patina caused by oxygenation over time that simply enhances its charm. 

bespoke gates and railings

Production cost 

If you’re working to a strict budget, then steel can be the more cost-effective option as it’s quicker and more energy-efficient to fabricate. By contrast, wrought iron is easier to mould, which could make it a more affordable choice for your gates and railings. 

Ultimately, the overall cost of your gates and railings will largely depend on the size of the project and the complexity of the design, although for smaller projects such as gates and railings for homes, wrought iron will work out as a better investment. 

 

Bespoke gates and railings from Bull & Blake 

When it comes to choosing decorative ironwork for your home and garden, we opt for handcrafted wrought iron for our bespoke pieces.

Our fabrication team has a stellar reputation, using our custom-built forge to create unique and stylish gates, railings and handrails for your home and garden. We use hand-aged galvanised steel for maximum weatherability outdoors. 

Whether you're looking for classic or contemporary ironwork to enhance your garden, every Blake and Bull piece is backed by our lifetime fabrication warranty for peace of mind. Contact us today, and we'll be happy to create your bespoke ornamental ironwork.

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