Specialists in antique fireplaces & fine antiques since 1969

Using cast iron in antiques - from fireplaces to benches

19 October 2020

Used in the creation of everything from fireplaces to outside tables and chairs, cast iron has been a popular material of the modern home since its popularisation in the 18th Century.

But what is cast iron? Where did it come from? And what’s the best way to utilise it in your home?

Cast iron continues to be a stylish and durable material that brings a level of style to any room it’s included in

To answer all these questions and more we’ve created this comprehensive guide to cast iron antiques.

If you’re interested in purchasing a cast iron fireplace for your home be sure to take a look at our antique fireplace collection.

What is cast iron?

Cast iron is made from ‘pig iron’ (iron with a high carbon content). The iron is melted down and poured into a mould before being left to cool. It is a brittle metal that, as it is resistant to damage from oxidation, can be used to fashion a variety of antiques used both inside and outdoors.

Due to cast iron furniture’s size and weight it is more suited to items that are likely to remain in one place in the home. This can include:

  • Fireplaces
  • Tables
  • Benches
  • Garden chairs
  • Planters
  • Plaques
  • Firebacks
  • Ornamental lamp posts
An entire bench or chair can be made from cast iron to create an ornate piece of furniture

A brief history of cast iron

The earliest examples of cast iron can be found in China dating back to the 5th Century BC, being used to make ornaments, weaponry and houses.

It eventually made its way to the West in the 15th Century, where iron workers used blast furnaces to create cast iron cannons for the English navy.

In the 18th Century, casting methods (and furnace temperatures) had evolved to the point where the production of intricate fireplaces and furniture could be made using cast iron at a rapid rate.

This eventually led manufacturers to produce cast iron fireplaces and furniture that was both stylish and affordable.

Antique cast iron in the home

At Westland we have a wide variety of cast iron antique furniture available for you to use throughout your home. This includes:

  • Cast iron fireplaces - As a durable yet affordable material, cast iron is used in a number of fireplaces and fireplace styles, ranging from Victorian fireplaces to Rococo and Art Nouveau designs.

    Some cast iron fireplaces function as an ‘all-in-one’ fireplace due to the implementation of an internal grate. This allows the fireplace to have both interior and exterior functions, which makes it easy to install.

  • Cast iron seats and benches - The strength of cast iron, as well as the intricacy of design afforded by using a mold means that cast iron can be used to create a variety of garden seats and benches, such as this Coalbrookdale Garden Cast Iron Seat Bench from our collection. While the entire bench or chair can be made from cast iron to create an ornate piece of furniture, designs can also implement wood to add a more rustic, homely touch to your garden.
  • Cast iron ornaments - Cast iron’s resistance to oxidation allows it to be worked into cast iron ornaments that can take pride of place in and outside the house, including plaques, fountains and sculptures. If you’re looking to add a stylish and long-lasting new element to your home or garden, the sturdy yet intricate designs of a cast iron ornament may suit you.

Conclusion

Regardless of how it’s used in or outside of the home, cast iron continues to be a stylish and durable material that brings a level of style to any room it’s included in.

Cast iron can be used to fashion a variety of antiques used both inside and outdoors

We hope that this guide to antique cast iron has been useful. If you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us - we’re always happy to talk antiques!