Remodel Fireplace Mantels: Stripping the Finish Off

What You'll Need
Drop cloths
Chemical paint stripper
Carbide tipped scraper
Paint brush
Rubber gloves
Orbital sander

Taking the time to remodel a fireplace mantel can upgrade the look of your fireplace and the room in which it is placed. Begin your remodeling project by stripping the existing finish off.

Steps To Remodel Your Fireplace Mantel

Step 1 – Preparing the Room

Remove any objects stored beneath the fireplace mantel. Drape several drop clothes under and around the fireplace. Aim for 4 to 6 feet of coverage.

Step 2 – Preparing the Mantel

Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands, apply the chemical paint stripper with a paint brush. Let the stripper sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

Step 3 – Remove the Paint

Using a carbide-tipped scrapper, remove the layers of existing paint from the mantel. Scrape with a gentle, smooth, back-and-forth motions until you have exposed bare wood on the entire mantel.

Step 4 – Sand the Mantel

Using sandpaper, sand the entire mantel down in slow back-and-forth motions until the mantel feels smooth. If you have access to an orbital sander, use it to sand the flat portions of the mantel. You will still need to sand by hand on any areas with contour.

Step 5 – Clean the Mantel

Remove any remaining paint chips from the mantle surface. Using a soft rag and alcohol, clean the dust and debris from the mantle.

Step 6 – Finish Sanding

Check the mantle for any existing rough spots. If necessary, resand these sections. If you do have to resand, clean the sections a second time, using a rag and alcohol.

Step 7 – Completing the Project

At this point your mantle has been stripped down to bare wood and sanded to a smooth finish. You are now ready to apply a new finish, either a stain, sealant or a combination of both. For the most protection first apply a coat of sealant and allow it to dry for 24 hours. You can then apply a coat of stain. When picking your sealant and stain make sure to buy products that are suitable for high-temperature situations. This will increase the length of time between refinishing jobs and offer better protection for your mantel.