Well, we are about halfway done on the mantle place and boy what a difference it has made not only to the fireplace but also to the whole room itself, causing it to feel open and light.
The dark stain is lovely due to the fact that it shows the house’s age, but it has a red hue to it which doesn’t match our style. Also, the wood used throughout the house is wood and grain that you actually can’t find very easily anymore due to the forestry industry and we really wanted a process to showcase the beautiful grain, which the stain covered up. We decided a Whitewashed look would be perfect for this space.
This was a long process, longer than expected. We tried many different techniques through trial and error. First, we tried removing the antique stain with a paint and stain remover, but it seemed to have only removed the varnish. Next, we used a paint scraper to see if that would get deeper into the stain, but no luck.
What Finally Worked
Finally, Rob dug out the palm sander and Dremel kit. This did the trick. First what you will want to do is use plastic dropcloths to close off around the room you are sanding. We didn’t do this and there was sawdust EVERYWHERE. Next, using a mask and safety glasses, take your palm sander with an 80 grit sandpaper and go back and forth with the grain on the wood. This will take between 1-2 hours or more depending on the size and how deep the stain has set into the wood.
Once you have gotten the wood clean from the Stain and varnish, Move your sandpaper to a 100 grit paper and go back over the entire mantle to get it a bit more smooth. Repeat again with a 120 grit to have it at the level you need for finishing.
When it comes to smaller areas, cracks, and crevices, use the Dremel with the sandpaper adapter on the end. You can also get these in the different grits and repeat the same process as with the palm sander, moving from the 80 grit to the 120 grit. Soon you will be left with bare wood. We left a few spots darker for a more antique look.
How To Get The WhiteWashed Look
After sanding, we were left with an orange, yellow-tinged wood to the mantle, which still didn’t match the vibe that we wanted for the room. We searched Pinterest and found that bleached wood with a whitewashed vibe was the look we were going for. We tried it with household bleach as all the DIYs said and it didn’t do a thing except stink up the house. We knew you could whitewash it with a paint, but we wanted something to bring out the grain, not cover it.
White Oak Pickling stain showed up in our feed and gave the exact look we were going for. We tried it. I covered the floor and taped the wall like you would if you were painting. Next, I painted on an area with the white pickling, and within a minute took an old rag and wiped the stain off. I continued this process over the entire fireplace making sure to wipe the stain away before it soaked in too much. It was achieving that perfect look with the grain of the wood shining through. After finishing we decided to do the process once more to get it a bit more white and were very happy with the results.
How Are We Going To Finish It?
Because the fireplace is not functional anymore, we are planning on finishing the wood off with a wax coating. You can get this at most paint and hardware stores as well as places that sell chalk paint. If it still functions, you should look at doing a proper sealant as the wax will melt with heat.
With the wood now done, we realize that the fireplace still falls a little flat. We had painted the brick from a gross yellow to a white but with white walls, it just doesn’t have any pazzaz. So, our next step for the fireplace is to find a beautiful antique-inspired tile that we will put over the brick on both the fireplace and hearth. We are hoping to have it all done by Christmas so wish us luck.