Who remembers this fireplace mantel? And, who has been watching social media stories over the last several weeks and has been seeing Deb stripping the paint off of it? Well, she was ready to give up so I took over the process for awhile to give her a break. This fireplace mantel was in ROUGH shape and needed so much work. But, what wouldn’t at over 200 years old, I guess. We found this on the Facebook Marketplace several months ago and fell in love with it. So we decided to try to use it for our real wood burning mantel in the family room. And I’m proud to say that the 200 year old fireplace mantel is home.
This was a long process. There is so much detail on this fireplace mantel that was covered up with layers and layers of paint: beige, teal, gold, and white to be exact. Deb decided that stripping the paint off of it would make it look so much better. So one Saturday, she grabbed the heat gun and got to work. This project moved on in to Sunday, which was when she said she had enough. I took over for several hours using the heat gun to melt the pant and a small paint scraper to dig in all of the little crevices.
It is also pretty rickety. So after about 750 hours of stripping off the paint, Deb had to put it all back together. She was very meticulous about each piece of trim. She made sure that they were stripped and sanded and looked the best they could being as old as they were.
The contractor saw Deb finishing the mantel and came over to check it out. Remember, this one is going to go in the family room on the real wood burning fireplace. Well, lots of people don’t know this, but you have to have so much clearance around different fireplace units. There is a specific equation with all of them regarding any combustible material close to the fire box. I did the measuring before we bought the fireplace and thought it would work. After looking at all of the measurements again, the top of the mantel stuck out too far from the wall for the height. Basically it needed to be a lot taller.
We knew we had to add a base to each side because of the damage on this mantel but we were thinking a small base. The contractor broke the news that it had to be hung on the wall A LOT higher and it would look pretty strange. This mantel is already a beast. It is taller than Deb and I both. We will have a television above it so we didn’t want to make it too tall.
After talking to the contractor and taking a lot more measurements, we came up with a game plan. They would build 12″ boxes for each side to raise it to code. It is a little higher than we wanted at first, but not as high as we thought it would have to be at one point.
We were originally going to paint this mantel. After stripping it, we would both LOVE to leave it unfinished or simply add a sealer to it. But, we don’t think it is possible. During the repairs, Deb had to use different products that won’t take the stain like real wood will. Note the gray patches. They will be very noticeable. So I am thinking of a technique that I used a long time ago when we had our shop. I may white wash it or even give it a solid coat of white paint. And then add a dark stain on top of the paint. It will make it look older and it will be darker and maybe mimic wood. Kind of like this technique that we use to make new wood look old.
Also.. we want to distress the bases that were built to make them blend with the old wood. We will do that by beating them up with different tools such as hammers, screw drivers, etc.
I am not sure yet what I will do, but I would love to work on it this weekend. So stay tuned to social media stories and here on my website. Because I will be sure to share both places.