Painting a Cast Iron Plate

  Question: I know this is not an industry-related question.



I know this is not an industry-related question. I was at an antique fair recently where I purchased a beautifully detailed cast iron fire plate. Do you have any suggestions on what type of paint I can use to paint it? It has a steam locomotive coming down a mountain and through some trees. I don't need to worry about the paint being heat-resistant. I just want to paint the scene rather than leaving it all black. I want to put it into a non-working fireplace and shine a spotlight on it. D. W.


Although yours is not an industry-related question, I just couldn't help myself because I am a railroad buff and it may be valuable to others. The simple answer is, if the paint is intact you can use any kind of paint to refinish it.

To be more specific, if the paint is not intact, you must remove any loose paint and corrosion and then prime coat the whole plate. The bigger issue is cleaning the surface to remove oily soils and loose particulates. My recommendation for a refinishing procedure is:

1. Wash the plate with an aqueous solution of powdered household alkaline cleaner or a household detergent (dishwashing detergent), rinse thoroughly with clear water and dry.

2. After it is completely dry, apply a coat of white low gloss paint as a primer.

3. After the primer is dry you can paint the scene using artist colors, either oil-based or acrylic (I prefer oils because they dry slower and have a longer blending time). You can also use model railroad paints or whatever else you may have in the various colors you want to use.

4. After the painting is dry apply a clear overcoat varnish to protect your artwork.