Iron beds were not just painted white back in the 1800’s. That is what most peoples concept of a bed is……..white.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most beds had a variation of colors or accented castings. Many beds of the day were painted with two colors. Generally the perimeter was painted in a particular color, and I’ve seen every imaginable color, and the interior was usually painted white for contrast. Beds with finely detailed castings often had those castings gold guilded or accented in a manner to highlight them and help standout from the rest of the tubing.
One of the prettiest finishes I’ve ever seen was on a bed I had gotten in from back in Vermont. It had a French Blue on the perimeter tubing and the interior rod designs were done in a traditional white. Also….. the castings were quite detailed and had been highlighted with some sort of “wash” to help them stand out from the rest of the bed.
Because of it’s age, the paint had slowly started to crack and a definite aging process had turned the interior white to ore of an off white color….not a pure white. It took quite a lot of experimenting to try and achieve that same effect with new paint.
To get our beds to look like that original two colored finish we had to first sandblast the bed. Then a coat of primer was applied,. Then a top coat of white, over the entire bed. Then there is a thin “crackling agent” applied to the frame. After that dries, the perimeter is painted French Blue and the interior and castings are painted an “off white”. When all of that dries, small crackles will start to appear all throughout the bed. Then an umber wash is put on and rubbed off. This gives an “aged” look. From her your individual taste can be applied by rubbing off areas that may appear to get more ware than others. The final result will be a finish that looks like an one that has been leaning against a barn in Pennsylvania for the past 200 years.
Take a look at the antique iron beds in the photo that we did with our Two Tone Crackle. Like it?
I hope you’ve found this blog informative . I invite you to revisit my website
to answer any and all questions you might have about antique iron beds.
I also invite you to take a look at the multiple “Before & After” photo’s on our company Facebook at