Iron alloys, like steel and wrought iron, are incredibly common choices when it comes to domestic or commercial perimeter fencing. Alloys work by blending a base metal, in this case iron, with another element like carbon to boost its strength and durability, or to create an alloy with specific properties for a particular task.
Let’s take a look at these similar but distinct iron alloys, wrought iron and steel, to see which offers the most favourable features for gates and railings.
Wrought iron is formed by taking raw iron and combining it with carbon, but wrought iron has a very low carbon content when compared to steel, which allows it to remain relatively soft and malleable. Interestingly, the term “wrought” actually refers directly to the process of bending and shaping the malleable metal into its design. The term was originally a past tense form of the word “work” in the English language. Wrought iron is more corrosion resistant than pure iron, but will still oxidise and rust when exposed to the elements.
Steel is another iron alloy, but this one benefits from a much higher carbon content, creating a much stronger material but one that is stiffer, and less easy to work into shape. But the payoff is a huge boost in tensile strength, and much better resistance to oxidation and erosion. Some types of steel, like stainless steel, are completely rust proof!
Which is Better?
Steel and wrought iron are both fantastic options for crafting gates and railings from. Both offer high strength and some weather resistance, but the differences can certainly make a difference! Wrought iron is far more prone to oxidation and rusting than steel, but its lower strength allows it to be worked into designs far more easily, making wrought iron options much cheaper than steel.
Truthfully, cost and aesthetics should be the major factors at play when making this decision, and wrought iron manages to beat out steel in both categories! While being easier to form and cheaper to buy, wrought iron gates also benefit from that unique, ‘old-world’ aesthetic and regal style.