I recently discovered a great product which allows me to preserve the raw industrial look of bare steel hairpin legs in an interior setting. Bare metal legs always look great at first, but left unprotected they will dull, then rust over time.
Penetrol is marketed as a paint additive, but has also been used by sculptors for years as a protective clear coat for metal. It will deteriorate when exposed to the elements, but forms a finish durable enough to keep rust and tarnish off of metal furniture elements which stay indoors. It is affordable, simple to apply, and doesn’t change the appearance of the bare metal much at all. In most areas it can be bought at any hardware store, and works by penetrating the microscopic pores and crevices in the metal surface, preventing any water from entering.
To prep your metal surface, just clean it with laquer thinner on a cloth rag.
Since it is advisable to scuff your surface before applying most clear coats, I lightly sanded these legs with 120 grit sandpaper. I’m not entirely sure this was necessary, but it can’t hurt.
Next, using a clean rag, apply Penetrol to all your metal surfaces. As soon as it is dry to the touch you can recoat. I used 3 coats on this set of legs. You can simply set them upside-down to dry.
And the finished product. This black walnut coffee table will be residing alongside industrial chic decor, and will maintain it’s patina for years to come.