What are the Different Types of Wrought Iron Shelving?

Dan Cavallari

For an aesthetic appeal that cannot be matched, many homeowners choose wrought iron shelving for a variety of purposes. Most people do not know that much of what is advertised as wrought iron shelving today is not actually wrought iron at all, but instead cast iron or even steel. True wrought iron is very expensive and difficult to find, whereas less expensive materials such as steel are quite common, lighter, and equally long-lasting. The designs and structure of wrought iron shelving can vary significantly as well, from large, multi-shelved models to hanging shelving with only one or two tiers.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

The ornate designs most shelving features are part of the appeal of wrought iron shelving. The design chosen is a matter of preference, though a purchaser will want to be sure to choose a shelving unit that is solidly constructed and sturdy enough to support the weight of whatever items will be placed upon it. Visual appeal aside, the shelf should sit flat on the ground if it is a ground model, and it should not shimmy or sway, especially when loaded with items. Many shelving units accomplish stability by including four solid legs, while others feature curved legs or more ornate supports. Regardless of the style, be sure the shelves are stable.

Wall shelves also come in a variety of designs. One-tier wrought iron shelving may be made entirely from metal, or it may be made with a combination of metal and wood for aesthetics and strength. The shape of the shelf can vary according to application: some shelves are designed to be mounted on a flat wall, while others are mounted in corners between two walls. Some shelves are rectangular, while others are semi-circular or even triangular. Choose a design that fits the aesthetic of the room in which it will be mounted.

True wrought iron shelving is likely to be quite heavy, and it will need regular maintenance to prevent rust and other damage. Similar shelving made from steel is lighter, and it is less susceptible to damage from rust, assuming the right type of steel is used. Cast iron shelves will also be quite heavy and be subject to much of the same damage that wrought iron is subject to, but the process of making cast iron shelves is much easier, making the cost of cast iron significantly lower.

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