This was the fireplace in the dining room when we moved in. We had the gas disconnected straight away as it really wasn’t safe to use, but rather than having a huge hole in the wall, we left the fireplace and surround in place until we could find something to replace it with.
Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long, as one of our lovely neighbours had an original Edwardian fireplace that he no longer needed and we were able to buy of him.
We removed the ugly fireplace and surround, and fitted the original antique fireplace ourselves. To be able to use the fireplace it has to be fitted by a HETAS registered installer who will check that your chimney is okay and that everything complies with Building Regulations.
As we are just using the fireplace for decorative reasons we just screwed it to the wall ourselves. In the long run, we are planning to use it to replace the missing fireplace in the larger guest bedroom. But for now, it looks a lot better than the “thing” that was there before.
From a distance it already looks fine, but when you get close it is a different story.
The fireplace is covered in layers of paint, which cover up some of the detail.
It’s also chipped and flaking all over. We decided to strip back everything and start from scratch.
Here are the step by step pictures of our test area
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1. We covered the area with the Peel Away stripping paste. The more layers that need to be stripped, the thicker the paste needs to be applied.
2. Then we covered the paste with the provided paper. You have to make sure that there are no air bubbles between the paste and paper, as it won’t dissolve the paint as well.
3. In our case, it took about 24 hours for the paste to penetrate all of the paint. The longer you wait the darker the paper becomes, and you can see that it seems to be soaking up all of the gunk.
4. Then you can just remove the paper and paint-paste goo. All that is left to do, is clean the area and neutralise with the provided liquid.
5. The Peel Away paste is amazing (we used Peel Away 1) and stripped away loads of layers of paint at once. This is what the area looked like after just one application of the paste and a bit of cleaning.
You can see, that the cast iron underneath all of the paint is quite rusty, but it’s not too difficult to remove by scrubbing with steel wool. To strip the whole fireplace took a long time. There are lots of grooves and detail which makes it difficult to remove every last bit of paint.
This is what it looked like about half way through.
What a mess! And to think, that this is meant to be improving the look of the fireplace! But, now after lots more hours of stripping and sanding, this is what it looks like.
You can see, that there is still a bit of cleaning and scrubbing to do, but it already looks a lot better. The detail and lines are much more crisp and clear. All that is left to do, is covering the fireplace with black grate paste and giving it a polish.
It may have looked black before, but you can see the difference immediately. This step only takes about 15 minutes, but what a difference it makes!
The black grate polish comes in a tube that and you can just apply it straight to the fireplace. The better and easier way to apply it is to mix it with a bit of white spirit first. This thins it down ever so slightly and makes it much easier to apply an even coat.
We will have to paint around the fireplace, where I messed up the wall with the stripped goo, but it doesn’t matter too much, as the room really needs replastering anyway. As always, here are a few side by side shots for you.
This isn’t the first fireplace that we have restored, but this restoration was much easier than the first one. This was mainly down to the PeelAway stripping paste that we used. It was much more effective than the other strippers we tried before and most of the paint was removed with just one application.
You can read more about our other Edwardian fireplace restoration in the master bedroom here.
It was a lot of work restoring the fireplace, but I think that it was worth it. The surface is much cleaner and smoother and all of the lumps and bumps and flaky paint have gone.