Home Improvement

Proper Fireplace Mantel Care and Maintenance

One of the first thing a person sees when he/she walks into a room with a fireplace is the fireplace mantel. The fireplace mantel sets the stage for the room as a whole. When properly cared for and maintained, a fireplace mantel can be a beautiful part of a room for years to come.

General Care and Maintenance

Keeping a fireplace mantel free of clutter is one of the most basic maintenance tasks. Not only is clutter an eye-sore in a room, but excessive clutter can result in excessive amounts of weight on the fireplace mantel, possibly causing structural damage. Clutter also increases the length of time and amount of energy required for regular cleanings of fireplace mantels.

Food and beverages should be kept away from fireplace mantels, as they can sweat or spill, causing damage to the mantel. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately.

Regular dusting (once a week is recommended) of the fireplace mantel is crucial for the upkeep of the mantel. Dusting of the fireplace mantel should take place after each use of the fireplace, as there will be a coating of soot and smoke throughout the area in which the fire was enjoyed. When left to set, soot and smoke can cause stains and damage.

All items on the fireplace mantel should be removed, and cleaned as well, when cleaning the fireplace mantel.

Periodic deep cleaning (as opposed to regular dusting) is necessary for all fireplace mantels, however, this process is different depending on the material from which the fireplace mantel is made.

Wood Mantels

Care should be taken with wood mantels to avoid exposure to moisture. Water, household cleaners, and some foods can damage the surface of a wood fireplace mantel if allowed to stand for an extended period of time.

Solvents, detergents, and abrasive cleaners should not be used to clean wood fireplace mantels. These products can cause scratches, permanently damaging the finish of the wood and exposing the wood to further damage.

Regular cleaning should be done with a soft cloth and a mild household cleaner. Oil based cleaners, such as Murphy’s Oil, should be used periodically to help keep the wood looking new and beautiful. Water based cleaners should be avoided, as wood can easily absorb the water, causing damage to the wood.

Using a quality oil on the wood fireplace mantel can enhance the natural beauty, while protecting the finish on the wood. Waxes and furniture polish should be avoided, however, as they can create buildup over time.

There are specialized treatments available for the maintenance of wood fireplace mantels. Sealants should be used on wood fireplace mantels to protect against the wood fading with age, from exposure to moisture, and from exposure to the smoke from the fireplace.

Coffee cups and wine glasses should not be set on wood fireplace mantels, as they can leave unsightly rings which are often difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

In order to maintain an attractive shine and to protect the wood from the elements, polishing of a wood fireplace mantel should be done regularly.

Cotton swabs are useful for cleaning in crevices and around decorative details on wood fireplace mantels.

Stone Mantels

Since stone fireplace mantels are almost always coated with a protective sealant to keep the stone from staining due to exposure to the elements, cleaning the stone mantel with normal household cleaners should be avoided. These cleaners may damage the protective coating.

A mild soap and water mixture should be used to clean stone fireplace mantels. There are also specialized stone soaps available that will not damage the surface of the stone.

Regularly washing the stone fireplace mantel will protect the stone mantel from soot and smoke stains. Scrubbing the stones with a soft bristled brush on a monthly basis will also help to eliminate the build up of soot and dust, helping to keep the stone mantel looking beautiful.

If a stone fireplace mantel is not sealed, the manufacturer’s cleaning and care instructions should be carefully followed to avoid damages to the stone mantel.

It is vital to clean any stains on stone fireplace mantels immediately. The longer a stain is allowed to set, the more ingrained it becomes.