One of the many decisions we had to make when building our house was to choose a fireplace surround and mantel. We decided to do stone all the way to the ceiling with a chunky slab of wood for the mantel.
The guy who made the mantel typically just puts a clear coat on it, which would have looked way too yellow to work with the color of our stone. I knew I could figure out how to finish the mantel to coordinate with the stone fireplace, so I asked him to leave it unfinished.
I tried several stains and combinations of stains, and paint colors in various proportions. In order to remember what I had done, I wrote the formulas on masking tape. Experimenting was done on the back of the mantel.
We set the mantel slab back on the supports to take a look in the light at different times of day. We have a winner!
I found a scrap of wood similar in color to the mantel and painted the winning color on it. Background color really influences how a paint will look, so it was important to paint the sample on a similar background. I took my little board to Home Depot and color matched a quart of Behr flat. Yep, the mantel has big cracks running down it, giving it a somewhat rustic look.
Two coats and the color was good, but it looked a bit too sleek, so I did what I usually do- added a glaze. My go-to glaze is no longer available, so I had to create my own. I stirred together Valspar mixing glaze with one of the darker paints from the mantel experiments.
Paint Glaze Formula
1 cup Valspar Mixing Glaze
2 T. Valspar Thorny Brush paint
Brush on quickly to one side, wipe off in long even strokes. I wiped in the direction of the grain, which was still somewhat visible.
After the glaze was completely dry, I brushed one coat of General Finishes polyurethane over everything, two coats on the top. This took a couple of days since I had to wait for one side to dry before I rotated the slab and did the next side.
The corbels? The mantel guy’s usual corbels were a little too simple for me, so I drew up this pattern for him to use. I was nervous that he wouldn’t be able to do that much detail on such thick pieces, but he did a great job.
This little tutorial on finishing a mantel to coordinate with stone is going way too long, so I’ll leave you here and come back next time to show you the fun part- options for decorating the mantel.