The owners of a recently renovated home in Bucktown wanted to add a custom staircase to their front porch. They had transformed the entire exterior but needed additional elements to make it secure and safe, and were looking for a staircase that featured limestone treads as well as matching fencing.
We first asked for rough measurements and photos of the space along with some designs they liked to get started on the project. As this was an exterior project we made sure to explain the difference between a painted finish and a powder coated one, to ensure the client understood the benefits and complications of going with either option. We typically recommend powder coating for fencing, but often recommend paint for stairs as powder coated projects become more complicated during the fabrication and installation process.
We explained that we do not recommend concrete treads as they have a tendency to collect water, cause the metal to rust, and generally drastically increase the maintenance cost associated with the beautiful design, so in the end the client decided on going with limestone instead. For the metalwork itself, we utilized wrought iron steel and matched the design of the fencing to the railings we fabricated for the property. We also prepped the stairs for the limestone which was then later installed by the general contractor.
Another great option for a project like this would have been to galvanize the metalwork, but this does limit the color options of the final piece to just silver, as galvanized metal cannot be black. To ensure the durability of the structures we ended up painting them first with a zinc oxide primer and then followed that with an oil-based Rust-Oleum top coat to ensure the product would last.
We recommend that all painted exterior products be coated with additional paint every few years to prevent rust from developing. If rust does start to appear, it often spreads very fast and needs to be addressed quickly, otherwise the entire project has to be redone from scratch. Oftentimes if rust is already visible, then it has already spread through internally, and many times when we cut old rusted metal products we find that the rust started on the inside and worked its way out. This in turn threatens the structural integrity of the metal and while with structures like stairs it’s not a big deal, with railings attached on a high rise which could fall, or stairs with a high elevation, maintenance is a must!
Next time you’re in the market for an exterior wrought iron staircase give us a call. We have over 4 generations of experience in the field and we won’t recommend anything to you unless we know it to be safe and the most logical choice for your project. We are your leading Chicago metal fabrication facility!