How To Restore an Antique Wood Mantel

Antiques represent the traditions of an earlier period or era, which is a common characteristic antique collectors want to find in the items they buy and collect. The goal is to keep an antique in the original condition, which is never easy.  Working on an old wood mantel is a good example. It will take time and effort to reach the ideal appearance when restoring an antique wood mantel. As these kinds of items have been subject to years of use and constant exposure to dirt and grime, restoring will involve meticulous work.

Before you think about refinishing the mantel or even taking the drastic measure of replacing it or having it remodeled, you should think about restoring it first.  There are simple and organized ways of restoring an antique wood mantel.  The goal is to keep the antique’s high value. Removing the original finish may reduce its value, and so you want to restore it to its original glory using the right tools and materials.

  • Getting ready. Get your materials ready before beginning the restoration. Make sure to use goggles, gloves and work clothes, as necessary.  As soot and grime will be present on the antique mantel’s surface, use a mask to protect your face. You will also need cleaning rags, oil soap, spray furniture polish, furniture refinisher and Polyurethane finish.
  • Wipe and clean. Before beginning with the restoration process make sure to clean the wood mantel. The time the cleaning process will take depends on the antique wood mantel’s current condition. The goal here is to remove the dirt and soot from the wood mantel without affecting the quality of the antique or reducing its value.
  • Get enough ventilation. Since you will be exposed to soot, grime and dirt ensure that you have enough ventilation in your working area. Open doors and windows so that enough air will circulate. If the mantel is not yet attached to a wall, refinishing can be done outside in the open air.
  • Refinishing. You can use a steel wool brush in adding the furniture refinisher to the mantel as you work in small areas. This will erase scratches and unnecessary spots while softening the old polish at the same time. Wipe away the softened old finish with a new rag before the refinisher dissolves. You may continue or repeat the process until the desired appearance of the antique wood mantel is achieved.
  • Monitor quality. To ensure the quality of your restoration, keep working on the finish until the old finish is completely removed. When removing the old finish pay close attention to cracks and crevices or small areas.Then, keep applying the refinisher. Depending on the pressure you use on the steel wool and the extent of the antique wood mantel, it may take some time to complete the work.
  • Complete a thorough inspection. After refinishing make sure to check all the areas again. Watch out for spots that may still need repair. Should there be cracks or splits in the wood then make sure to seal it off using permanent clear drying wood glue. Once you are able to ensure that all work required is done, take another clean cloth and apply polyurethane. Make sure to wait at least an hour before applying another coat or two for your finish.

Restoring an antique wood mantel may take some time with its meticulous process, but the time and effort you put into restoration will be worth it if you can increase the value of the antique.


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