How To Protect Your Fireplace Mantel

Lead Image for How To Protect Your Fireplace Mantel
  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 40-350
What You'll Need
Stone Sealant
Wire Brushes
Paint Brushes

Your fireplace mantel may have been chosen for its good looks, but it needs to be protected from the fire it frames. General wear and tear may also compromise your mantel's safety.

Fireplace Mantel Safety

It is essential to consider safety when you are installing your mantel. The mantel will come with comprehensive instructions, which you should not deviate from. If you are installing a stove with a mantel over, check local building and fire codes for their requirements and clearance. Combustible materials have to be kept a certain distance from the fire itself. Stoves, in particular, generate intense heat and should be installed with due caution.

Make sure that you also protect yourself when installing any type of fireplace or stove. Stone mantels can be heavy, and should not be lifted by one person.

Mantel Maintenance

Maintaining your fireplace mantel will preserve its appearance and will ensure that it lasts much longer. The methods you use to maintain the mantel will depend upon the material that it is made from. For example, with a stone mantel, stone soap is available which will not damage the surface of the stone. Washing it regularly will protect the mantel from stains caused by soot and smoke from the fire. Scrubbing the mantel delicately every month will make a difference, but take care not to use a wire brush that is so abrasive that you cause more damage than you are trying to prevent.

To protect a wooden fireplace mantel, use a treatment that is specifically designed for that purpose. Wood can fade with age and from the adverse effects of a smoky environment, so ensure that the mantel has been properly sealed. Do not place coffee cups, or wine glasses on top of the mantel as glasses and cups can leave an unsightly ring that can be quite difficult to remove.

Protecting Your Mantel’s Decor

To protect the look of your stone fireplace mantel, seal the stone with a bespoke sealant so that dust, soot, and grime can be wiped easily from the surface of the mantel without the need for intense scrubbing.

If you have a wood fireplace mantel, polishing it regularly will give it an attractive shine, and protect the wood from the elements. For both wooden and brick fireplaces, you can buy paints that create a barrier between the wood and the elements. As with most painting jobs, the surface must be scrupulously clean and free from debris. If possible, choose a paint that does not require a primer. It’s best to apply the paint with a brush rather than a roller for brick and wood, as both substances have their own grains and indentations which need to be fully covered for a high-quality finish.