Wrought iron can be made into artful gorgeously exquisite forms and patterns that make for excellent decoration. This material is commonly used for staircase railings; window grills as well, gates, and fireplace screens to name a few.
The use of wrought iron dates as far back as 2000 BC to what is now known as Turkey.
Many centuries ago, this region went by the name Anatolian peninsula. Wrought iron was widely used in the beautiful and artful construction of the 19th century in this region. However, the advancement in metallurgy in the 20th century saw the use of wrought iron diminished due to the coming up of inexpensive metals that were easier to work and weld.
While wrought iron is incredibly beautiful and charming, blacksmiths find it comparatively expensive and time-consuming to work with.
That said, the resulting work is delightful to look at. The large-scale commercial practice of wrought iron craftsmanship diminished in the mid-1970s. What this translates to today, is that true wrought-iron pieces seen today can only be either antiques or specialty pieces that have been crafted by a local artisan. This explains why getting a fireplace made of wrought iron is such a novelty in this day and age.
A lot of people are unable to make the distinction between wrought iron and cast iron. A good number of people tend to think that the two metals can be used interchangeably.
The term “wrought iron” is commonly misused when describing designs similar to historical wrought iron pieces—irrespective of the metal used to craft them. With a bit of understanding and the general distinction between metals, it’s fairly easy to distinguish between a wrought iron item and one that is not made from wrought iron.
To do these, let’s go ahead and explain the difference so that you can see why wrought iron is quite a preferred choice in the construction of fireplace screens.
The difference between cast iron and wrought iron
Well, the difference is in the constitution of the metals and their inherent properties.
For instance, cast iron is the generic term used for a broad range of alloys. Cast iron, for some reason, is also frequently misinterpreted as pure iron. While in fact, it’s an alloy comprising of 4% carbon and a mixture of low quantities of manganese, sulfur, phosphorus, and silicon.
Cast iron comes from smelting iron ore and a mix of other alloys in smaller quantities.
It’s important to know that cast iron, once smelted, is poured into a mold and allowed to solidify and assume the shape of the mold.
Wrought iron, on the other hand, comprises mostly iron and 1% to 2% of added slag.
What is slag? Slag is the term given to byproducts of iron ore smelting— slag is a mixture of silicon, phosphorus, and aluminum oxides.
Wrought iron is removed from heat and pounded with a hammer while still hot for the blacksmith to achieve the desired form. The work is laborious, to say the least, and takes a skilled wrought iron artisan to work the metal
Today, mild steel can be bent into the desired shape with ease using machines even while in a cold state. To the untrained eye, cast steel and iron pieces that have been painted black and shaped after medieval patterns can be easily be mislabeled as wrought iron.
Authentic wrought iron fireplace screens or any wrought iron metalwork can only be truly designated as wrought iron if the metal piece used has been forged by a blacksmith through heating the metal and hammering it into the desired form or shape.
Why Make a Big Deal out of Having a Wrought Iron Fireplace Screen?
In comparison to steel or cast iron, wrought iron is not brittle and is malleable to the degree that it can be bent into beautiful scroll patterns as well as other gorgeous designs that require flexibility. Such designs are near impossible to achieve with cast iron because the metal lacks such flexibility. When bent, cast iron will often crack.
While wrought iron can bring out some exquisite fireplace screens when worked by an experienced artisan, the metal is, unfortunately, susceptible to rust when its bare surfaces are exposed to oxygen. This problem is however easy to overcome as most fireplaces made of wrought iron will come painted to prevent oxidation. For indoor spaces, the paint will usually suffice in protecting your fire screen from developing rust,
If your fireplace is outdoors, powder coating on your wrought iron will offer a better protective layer that can stand up to the harsh elements of the outdoor environments where exposure to precipitation and humidity can be relentless. Powder coating comes highly recommended because of its durability and inability to fade, crack or chip for many years of heavy use.
When considering a metallic fireplace screen that is minimal and filled with artistic beauty, a wrought iron fireplace will do the trick.
For one, a highly skilled blacksmith will do amazing things with wrought iron that bring aesthetic beauty. Such beauty is artful and simply hard if not impossible to conjure with any other metals. Wrought iron can be used as the only material in the screen or combined with glass especially if your fireplace is powered by propane, natural gas, or gel logs.
Is That All?
Wrought iron can also be combined with a mesh in the case of fireplaces fueled by wood. The mesh can prevent errant embers, sparks, and ash from falling on your hardwood floor, carpets, rugs, or furniture. The wrought iron will provide a sturdy frame as well as gorgeous decorative features.
Fireplaces provide a timeless charm that enlivens a home or a commercial establishment. With that, it also can be hazardous to kids and pets in the home.
A protective barrier such as a fireplace screen then becomes necessary. But that’s not to say that the beauty of the fireplace should be obscured. A wrought iron fireplace screen will see to it that you have a safe fireplace by serving as a screen but also adding aesthetic beauty that accentuates your fireplace with traditional decorative beauty.