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My Mother lives in Corpus Christi on the beach and her wrought iron has to be repaired and painted almost every year.
I have found that preventative maintance is the best key to preserving this material especially around humidity and salt air.
Once you get the furniture back in shape, tackle the rust as soon as you see it and not wait until it is a big job.
First use a wire brush attached to a power drill using eye protection. Wire brush the stuff down to clean bright metal. use Naval Jelly on the bad spots.
When you get it clean and shiny, apply a good primer. Rustoleom makes one and I would recommend it.
Then after the primer has dried, apply the finish coat of the same maker. Then apply a finish coat, just like the automakers apply to their finish.
This should get you back in shape. I would apply many light coats of primer. This is your first line of defence. But, make sure that all the rust has been wired off and clean.
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