Caring For The 3 Most Common Fireplace Mantel Materials
Antique fireplace mantels can be one of the most striking pieces of furniture that you have in your home, and they can be the focal point of any room if properly maintained. However, many people fail to realize that maintaining an antique fireplace mantel requires care and attention and that different materials require different considerations. To help you with this, below are three common mantel materials and how you should care for each one:
Limestone is a sedimentary rock, which means that the stone is a collection of sediments that have condensed over an extremely long period of time. The nature of limestone means that it is a very porous material that allows water to flow through it, rather than being a barrier against water ingress.
As such, limestone requires significant treatment in order to ensure that the surface of the material remains watertight. This is typically achieved by applying a sealant, which all good manufacturers will do before selling the product. However, this protective layer can become damaged over time, so it is important to properly maintain the limestone in order to ensure the longevity of your fireplace mantel.
In the majority of cases, routine cleaning of your limestone mantel can be carried out using a soft-bristle brush to remove dust particles. This will ensure that your mantel does not become clogged with dirt and will allow the material to breathe naturally. If there is an excessive layer of dirt on the surface of the limestone, you may need to apply a mild cleaning product in order to disintegrate the dirt prior to cleaning. In such cases where your mantel requires rigorous cleaning, it is important to reapply a sealant in order to properly protect the surface.
Marble is essentially a form of sedimentary rock that has gone through metamorphism, thus making the material much harder than its parent rock, and with a much smoother texture. Marble fireplace mantels are very aesthetically pleasing, but the shiny surface of the structure means that your fireplace will show dirt quickly and will require regular cleaning.
With marble, it is important to recognize that applying standard cleaning products may act to damage the material. As such, regular day-to-day cleaning should be initially attempted using a damp cloth. In order to maintain the material's natural shine, you may need to wax the surface of the fireplace regularly. For waxing, it is important to choose a product that is safe for marble to ensure that you don't damage the fireplace. There are a number of products on the market, such as beeswax, that can be used, but if you are unsure, it is best to contact a professional furniture or antique store for advice.
The key to maintaining your wooden fireplace mantel is to protect the area from moisture. If water is allowed to penetrate into the grain of your fireplace, it can cause warping and distortion that will ruin the aesthetics of your mantel. As such, you should avoid cleaning the surface of the mantel with wet cloth and off-the-shelf cleaning products.
Similarly, abrasive cleaners should be avoided when maintaining your mantel. Abrasive cleaners are typically uses to scratch off dirt and other blemishes using friction. This is fine for some materials, but with wood, you could seriously damage the surface finish of the material and expose the wood to further damage.
The best product to use on your wooden mantel is a high-quality oil. Not only do oils improve the surface finish of the wood, but the material acts as a natural sealant that can protect the wood from water ingress.