Wrought-iron fences are beautiful and strong. They’re ideal for historic homes or for creating a high-end look, but they’re also expensive: Prices start at about $35 per linear foot. If your yard has just 150 linear feet, that’s more than $5,000. In some cases, wrought-iron fences can cost more than $100 per linear foot - triple that of high-end wood fences.
Wrought-iron fences are custom products; they’re not mass produced. This makes them unique, artistic and elegant - they can be shaped into many styles and designs - but it also explains the price. Handmade products are always more expensive.
The term wrought iron simply means “worked iron,” or iron that has been molded by hand. Wrought-iron fences are usually picket-style, with decorative posts placed at regular intervals. Sometimes they have elaborate, ornate designs; other times the design is more basic.
Wrought-iron fences are secure, but they don’t work as privacy fences. They are fairly high maintenance, requiring sanding and repainting every two or three years. Properly maintained, however, a wrought-iron fence will literally last a lifetime.
Most fence companies quote jobs by the linear foot, including all materials and labor. Wrought-iron fences usually start at $35 to $50 per linear foot. That works out to $5,250 to $7,500 for a yard with a perimeter of 150 linear feet.
Elaborate wrought-iron fences can cost far more. Custom work can get very expensive very quickly if you’re not careful, so set a budget in the beginning and stick to it. It’s not unheard of for a very elaborate wrought-iron fence to cost $100 to $200 per linear foot. Prices also vary based on geographic location.
Gates typically cost extra. Budget $500 to $3,000 for each custom wrought-iron gate. If you’re replacing an old fence, removal and haul away of the fence will add about $2 to $6 per linear foot to the total price.
Many modern wrought-iron fences are actually made from mild steel because it is less expensive and more durable. Actual wrought-iron is not all that common today. However, some blacksmiths still use it, particularly for historic restoration projects.
Be wary of so-called wrought-iron fences that are made with imitation products such as aluminum or composite. These products are great if you want the look of wrought iron on a smaller budget, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re the real thing. Always find out which material is being used before you agree to a price.
Imitation wrought-iron fences usually costs less than $30 per linear foot.
A wrought-iron fence should be cleaned annually. Rinse the fence with the garden hose, use a mild detergent and brush to clean away rust, rinse the fence again and dry it. The sooner you attack rust, the better the fence will look in the long run.
Every few years, you’ll want to repaint the fence. Sand it and clean it first, apply a primer made for metals and then apply the paint. Spray paints work best for getting in between all of the crevices; just be sure to choose a rust-inhibiting paint. Tackle the job on a sunny day without too much humidity for best results. Lay down a drop cloth to prevent staining your grass, driveway and sidewalks.
When you’re making an investment as large as a wrought-iron fence, take some time to do your homework before writing the check. Try these tips:
- Get multiple quotes before settling on a craftsman. Consider the price, but also pay attention to the quality of work. Ask for references and ask to see pictures of past work. Find out how long the person or company been in business.
- Check with your city or town’s planning or zoning department before building any sort of fence. Some areas have restrictions on how tall a fence can be or how close to the street it can be.
- If you’re handy, consider saving money by doing the installation yourself. In some cases, this can save as much as 40 percent. However, if you’re not exactly a do-it-yourselfer, pay the extra to hire a pro. The last thing you want is for the fence to collapse or fall over.
- If your neighbors don’t have a fence, talk to them about sharing the cost of bordering areas. Perhaps they’ve been considering a fence, too, and you’ll both benefit from the savings. However, don’t approach the conversation expecting them to say yes - the choice is theirs to make.
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