Mantle &
Fireplace Re-finishing


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Final Mantle & Fireplace

My take on Art Deco and/or Streamline Moderne.



Original Mantle & Fireplace

   The fireplace was made of an ugly brick which I had painted white years ago.  The mantle was boring, and the hearth was red tiles.  I wanted to stucco it in black, with curved corners and make a nice mantle.

Stuccoing the Fireplace

I chipped out the red tiles in front of the fireplace, and removed the damper control (broken anyway, when I made a fire I had to reach in -- before lighting -- and open the damper).  We were going to get a nice gas insert.

Next step was to apply diamond mesh to the fireplace.  The curves around the corners "automatically" formed.  I like when things like that happen.  I bought a box of Tapcon screws and used the whole box.

There are going to be three coats, in order from the mesh: the scratch coat, the brown coat, and the finish coat.  A really knowledgeable salesperson at Merkley Supply here in Ottawa, guided me.  The first two coats could be made from mixes, I had to mix the finish coat.

The scratch coat is applied over the mesh, and is scratched with the trowel to provide extra adhesion to the brown coat.

I also applied scratch coat to the hearth in front of the fireplace.  The next coat is the brown coat.  It's real purpose is to make the surface the exact shape you want it.  Not when I do things.  It was just another coat, sorry I have no picture of it.

The finish coat was a mix of Portland Cement and lime.  (You'll have to do an Internet search for "stucco" to get more details.)  It's also supposed to contain an aggregate, which should be sand.  Instead of sand, I found sand-blasting grit, which was pitch black, at Merkley Supply.  I also bought black dye to colour the cement .

You're supposed to use a trowel when applying stucco.  Right.  That worked for the scratch and brown coats, but was a mess on the black, gritty finish coat.  I used my hands to sculpt the finish coat.  I had bought some paint-on stuff to make new cement stick to old.  I needed this for the hearth; I was going to put a scratch coat over existing cement.  I had most of the can left over, so I applied it to the brown coat before applying the finish coat.

Here's the finish coat applied.  The fireplace is made by Valour and was installed by Hubert Heating in Ottawa.  The installation is NOT perfect because my stucco surfaces are not smooth.

Adding the Mantle

My wife did not want me to remove the existing mantle; neither did I.  Of course not, the existing mantle gives me lots to work with: Flat wood top surface, a wood edge to screw my mantle (sides) into.

Here's what I did:

I attached 1" x 6" clear pine or spruce around the outside.  Actually I think there was a several inch gap in the center, but that covered by the center medallion (see below). 


For the medallion, I used a piece of 1X6 8"long and put it vertically in the centre.  I ran another piece of 1X6 back to the wall (across the top, see pics).  This top 1x6 (front to the wall) is supported by two more 1x6 to produce the step effect.  These step 1x6's stick out from the top 1x6 the width of the 6 dowels (see below).

I used a rasp and sandpaper to round down the corners.  I cut 12 pieces of some wood dowel that I had laying around and rounded one tip on each.  I glued them to the front of the mantle.  At Rona (like Home Depot) I found some wood trim strips that had the repeating rectangle design.  I attached that to the 1X6. 


When I painted the mantle, I used masking tape on the wall.  After painting, I removed the tape, and lots of paint came off.  My friends in a gathering, in one voice, said "you have to remove the masking tape before the paint dries."  Yes but I always do at least two coats (after primer), and I would have to re-tape each time.  No thanks.

I touched up the messed up paint on the mantle (just a bit along the wall), and decided on another fix.  I got another dowel rod, painted it and just placed it at the junction of the wall and the mantle.  1/4 round molding? Nah, I got full-round molding.

The brass vase is something I bought years ago.  It's just sitting on the mantle.

Finally.  Actually not too long a project, but messy at times (the stuccoing).

My friends are too nice to tell me they don't like the fireplace; my wife likes the room (including fireplace and sconces and other furniture).  I'm happy.