Painting the Fireplace Mantel

Over the last few weeks I’ve been gradually painting the baseboards, door frames and other trim in the living room. It’s all been in pretty sorry condition, peeling and chipping in the corners. This weekend I tackled the fireplace mantel, which I had been dreading.

In addition to the smoke stain on the ceiling, years of wood-burning fires had left a noticeable discoloration on the white mantel.  You can definitely see the smudgy area in this pic from January:

It was also to the point where you could just poke one of those little ridges with your finger and pieces of paint would chip off. I knew that I couldn’t just slap another coat of paint on.

This bitch had to be sanded down.  So I got to work at making a huge mess in the living room.

This little power tool did a nice job.  It’s a $15 hand sander that we’ve been “borrowing” from someone for the last 4 months.  I’ll definitely be buying one of my own when it goes back to its rightful owner.  It’s very handy.  And since it’s lightweight, it’s easy for my weak girl arms to handle.

I did one pass over the whole thing with a 50 grit course sandpaper to really rip off all the old shards of paint,then did another round with 120 grit to smooth things over as best as I could.  After this, the whole thing looked pretty rough.

Looking at the condition of the wood here, I’ve decided that at some point in ancient history, they had that old glossy, off-white, oil-based (probably lead) paint covering all of these surfaces.  And when previous owners tried to paint over it, it just didn’t take or they didn’t sand it down enough or something.

The biggest problem areas are the corners of the little ridges.  The sanding took them back to that very, very old layer of paint.

Then it was on to the ultra white.  I used the same ol’ Valspar Ultra White semi-gloss for this to match the other trim and the built-in.  It took two coats, but I probably should have primed first.  Too late for that now.

I’ve already decided that if the white finish develops another smoke stain over the next few years, I’m painting it black next time.  Like this one.  Black paint would hide the (many) imperfections and hide the sooty smoke stains forever and ever.

But for now, that’ll do.

Just don’t look too close.  It looks good from across the room, but up close you can see all the chip marks and shit.  It’s a full-on Monet.


3 thoughts on “Painting the Fireplace Mantel

  1. oooh i really sort of hope (sorry) that you do get the smoke stain because I LOVE that black fireplace. at first I was like “eh” when I read it, but when I clicked the link I fell in love!

  2. The black fireplace is stunning. You can live with the white until you get the sofa in place and through the summer. It may be a good project in the Fall smoke stain or not.

  3. Pingback: Fixing the Bathroom « escape from brooklyn

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