I have been getting a lot of questions about our reclaimed wood mantel, so I’m here to tell you all about it! If you are curious as to how I made our fireplace look like brick (yes, its FAUX!, go check out my post on my DIY Faux Brick Fireplace Surround)!

I knew when we bought our home that I wanted an old wood mantel – something with a story.  Luckily, there is an incredible timber company about 100 miles north of San Diego – Vintage Timberworks – in Temecula, CA.  If you are a SoCal resident, I HIGHLY recommend them.

I went to find our mantel on my day off – which means without my husband.  Now, I love making home decor decisions without him (usually because I feel a bit more free to do what I want – sorry babe!), but, making this kind of decision was a bit scary on my own.  Mostly because Vintage Timberworks has THOUSANDS of pieces of wood, and what if I picked something my husband hated – its not like we could just return it! But, I put my big girl panties on, and after I strolled around for awhile, completely indecisive, I finally happened upon the piece we now call our mantel!

It was a old hand hewn barn beam shipped all the way from the east coast.  I don’t know the full story on it, obviously, but the fact that it was in an old barn on the east coast (I used to live in Atlanta and have a love affair with all things Southern/Eastern/just give me ALL the American history!) was good enough for me.  We already knew we wanted it to be 54 inches long, and Vintage Timberworks was kind enough to cut it down for me for free.  And total, the whole thing was only $200! Can’t beat that!  Then they loaded it up in my car and down it came with me back to SD!

My husband and dad then hung it for me on Christmas Eve – the best Xmas present!  I’ll have to get hubby to tell me a bit more about the actual hanging process, because that I didn’t care to document – oops!

Once it was up, we left it bare (unwaxed) for several weeks until all the holiday clutter, and glitter, was cleaned up.  I really did love it unwaxed and natural, but the wax really made it pop and look a touch more sophisticated; and given that most of our wood furniture is dark, it gives our home a more cohesive look.  I also think it really brought out the details in the wood!

So – on to the actual project!

What you’ll need to transform your wood mantel:

  • Sandpaper – 120 grit and 220 grit
  • Dustbuster or vaccuum!
  • Wood Wax of your choice (we used Fiddes & Sons in Rugger Brown)
  • Two Old t-shirt strips or flour sack towels that you WILL throw away
  • Old/Small brush that you also WILL throw away
  • Reclaimed wood mantel (or really anything else you want to wax)


How to:

Step 1: Wax the HECK out of it!

Our mantel was very rough, so I really went at it with the sandpaper.  I don’t have any good photos of that, mostly because its exactly what it sounds like.  Think you are done sanding? Nope, sand some more!

Step 2: Roll it over and over again (like a log down a hill – yes, seriously; but not seriously DOWN an actual hill); then dustbust!

This helps get the sawdust you made from sanding out of all the little crevices in the wood.  Also don’t fear if chunks of wood come off during this step or step 1, you want to get the rotting/dead pieces out anyway, and I promise it will just give the piece more character!

Step 3:

Install on your wall! (If you have questions on this, PLEASe ask and I will get hubby to give me the rundown)!  Here is the before when the mental was installed and styled, but unwaxed:

I really do love how it looked unwaxed too!

Step 4:

Tape off the whole thing – make sure you get the tape up and behind the mantel itself (it most likely wont sit totally flush against your wall if it’s a reclaimed wood piece, as they generally are not completely straight).  Below is a photo of the taped off mantel, AFTER it was waxed, but you get the idea!

Step 5: Open up your wax and stir it so it is all one consistency – also be sure to follow the instructions on your particular wax container.  Then use your flour sack towel and/or old tshirt, dip it in the wax and slather on!  There is no exact science to it, just be sure you aren’t going to cray that you get wax on your wall/other surface beyond the tape – it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to get off! Also be sure you are rubbing the wax fully into the wood and don’t have any globs of it in certain places.

Step 6: Once you have used your cloth and covered the entire thing, there will inevitably be little crevices you can’t get to – this is where your brush comes in! Once you get all the crevices done, let your mantel dry for a full 24 hours.

Just a little old paintbrush will do – but remember it wont be usable after you’re done for more than tossing in the trash!

Now take a look at the before and after photos below to see how big a different the brush makes!

Before brush
After brush!

Step 7: After 24 hours of drying time, take another flour sack towel and/or old tshirt and buff out the wax.  Put a bit of elbow grease into it.  Buffing gives it a nice sheen and really smoothes out the surface to the touch.

And finally, the big reveal!:

The wax really maxes it pop! And of course Napa makes her obligatory appearance!

And a few more views of the final product (with a little touch for Valentine’s day next week)!

faux brick reclaimed wood mantel

And that’s it!  So what do you think friends?  To wax or not to wax, that is the question! I personally love both looks, but waxing was the way to go for us – and the wax we used was great, so I highly recommend it as well!

What DIYs would you like to see next?  Our faux brick fireplace surround perhaps?

Sound off in the comments below!