First, thank you so much for all of the positive feedback in regards last weeks post. Even though I have not been posting consistently, it makes my heart happy to know that you still care and like to read my blog. In my last post, I forgot about my salvaged mantle makeover that we installed in my office last year. It was a project that required a little more patience and ingenuity than the norm, but the results were totally worth it.
My husband owns a tree service, and sometimes he will use his bucket truck to help tear down a chimney when a house is getting demolished. Two years ago, when he was asked to remove a chimney, the demo company gave him permission to look thru the house first and take anything he wanted. (You know I was more than happy to tag along.) We salvaged 2 fireplace mantles, this brown beauty and a marble one, a few solid oak panel doors, a claw foot tub and a few windows.
Everything went into our storage unit, and I completely forgot about it. We use a wood burning stove to heat our home, and we don’t need a mantle, so using it in any other way never really occurred to me.
Call me old fashioned but magazines are still my favorite source of inspiration (sorry Pinterest.) Architectural Digest is one of the best and I keep a stack of them in my office to flip thru when I am beginning a new project.
My office walls were already white, all it was missing was a gorgeous mantle, so it was time to give this guy a makeover.
Just use your imagination.
I debated to either sand off the peeling paint, then paint over it, or stripping off the old paint and paint the fresh wood. I decided to strip it, but to say I had second thoughts would be an understatement.
Most of you know by now that if you plan to strip a piece of furniture, do it outside, wear proper gloves made for chemicals, safety glasses, and a respirator. Check all your supplies and read directions fully before beginning, and I always have extra supplies on hand just in case!
The product I used was a gel, and you brush it on, wait a while, then scrape it off. Make sure to read the instructions, the length of time varies from product to product.
It’s actually fascinating to watch, but not so much fun to scrape off.
At this phase of the project, I was extremely frustrated, there were multiple layers of paint on this mantle. Brown, white, and a layer of black, which I think was either oil base paint, or a thick layer of residue from whatever the previous owners burned. It was like tar.
So gross right?! Does anyone else think it is ironic that someone who is constantly painting things is writing a post on removing it?
I don’t remember how many coats of stripper I used to get to this stage. I just kept going until most of the wood was exposed. It took me all day.
Eventually, I sprayed the whole thing down with a de-greaser, and scrubbed it to death….I don’t normally recommend turning the garden hose on a project, especially when it is wood. But in this case, it was already warped, and I was desperate to get it finished.
It was threatening rain all day, and I was able to get it done just in time. I left it outside under a tarp for a day until some of the fumes evaporated.
After bringing it inside, and I waited a few more days to make sure it was really dry before moving onto the next step, fixing the warping issue. I couldn’t install this in my office if it wasn’t going to lay flush on the wall.
The fireplace was warped and coming apart before I started stripping it, and it got much worse during the process. This is one reason why I second guess my choice of stripping over just sanding. When you use as much stripper and chemicals as I did, some of the “glue” that hold the piece together is also going to be removed.
This is where my husband came to my rescue. Armed with wood glue, clamps, scrap wood, and a nail gun, he was able to solve all my warped fireplace mantle problems. 🙂
He filled every gap with wood glue.
He used pieces of scrap wood to help flatten out the mantle, then used a clamp to hold it in place.
He did this all the way around the fireplace mantle.
At the same time, he went around with the nail gun and nailed the edges and any other pieces that were separating.
I then went around with wood filler and filled all of the holes and gaps.
Once the filler was dry, I sanded the whole mantle with coarse sandpaper, to remove any old finish that was left.
And started to apply my favorite primer, Sherwin Williams All Purpose Primer. This is the point where you might be thinking, why strip it just to paint it again, EXACTLY!!!!!! There was so much work involved with removing the paint, it would have been easier and cheaper to just sand well and paint over the existing finish. However, so much of the paint was chipped, I am not confident that sanding alone would have been enough to get a smooth painted finish. I guess we will never really know.
This is where I must go, I haven’t had time to shoot after pictures, I have a Jujitsu tournament this weekend and I have been using most of my free time to prepare for it. Next week I will share them, I promise!!
Wish me Luck!!