Refinish a wooden fireplace surround
- Preparation of your fireplace surround
- Treating resinous timber
- 1st coat adhesion primer
- Making good
- Finish Coats
Like all my other posts preparation is key to producing a quality finish. This post is about how to re-decorate a plain timber fireplace surround to a finish of your choice.
As the fireplace surround looked like had some sort of stained finish to it, I opted to use 120 grade sandpaper to sand it down to provide a key. You should always fully prepare any surface prior to painting and using sandpaper is one of the best options.
Always beware with fireplaces that the mantelpiece is always used for something. A lot of the time people put lit candles and the wax that comes off them sometimes will go onto the mantelpiece. This will need to be scraped off before painting can commence.
I used a small palm sander which is attached to a dust extractor. And simply rubbed over the whole surface of the fire surround making sure I got into the nooks and crannies.
If you don’t have a sander you need to do it by hand. And if you do it by hand you and need to clear up the dust afterwards. I usually use a dusting brush and a damp cloth to pick up any resilient dust. Just be careful not to breathe it in as you do not know what was on the surface before
First coat adhesion primer
My first coat of paint was an adhesion primer. I like using Tikkurila Otex Akva as I find it sticks to anything, Is water-based and dries and extremely quickly.
I opted to spray finish the fireplace surround. This would allow me to get enough coats on in a day as it atomises the paint therefore allowing it to dry quicker.
As most of you would not own spray equipment, for this project I would use a small microfiber rad roller and brush.
Use one of the adhesion primers I’ve mentioned earlier. As these are water-based (Bullseye 123, STIX and Otex) it will dry much quicker, allowing you to get more than one coat on in a day.
Cover stain and BIN are oil based but do dry quick. On bare timber I like to use water-based as a first coat primer. Using BIN as a full primer I find it is very brittle. It’s OK as a general stain blocker once stains come through, but not as full coat primer.
You only need to apply one coat. Once the paint is fully dry you can try a scratch test. A scratch test is simply using the back of your nail along the paintwork. if you have prepared properly this coat of paint should have stuck well.
You will have noticed at this point, staining with start to show through the water-based adhesion coat. This is perfectly normal as a next step is to apply a stain blocker.
Treating resinous timber (tannins)
The fireplace surround in question was made from pine so therefore the knots are quite resinous these will need to be treated to prevent staining.
You have several options for this. You can use shellac knotting directly on the knots. Shellac knotting has been used for years by French polishers to produce a deep, high polished finish it can also prevent resin coming through on knots.
You can also use a product called zinsser bin. This can be sprayed on directly onto knots from an aerosol can. It too is a shellac based stain blocker. It uses denatured alcohol as a thinner more commonly known as methylated spirits in the UK.
There are now water-based stain blockers which claim to block resinous timber. I have used these with some limited success. On this particular project I opted to use Tikkurila Multi stop. To be honest I found this work quite well on the fireplace surround.
I did use tikkurila Multi stop on the hardwood windows and cill but I found it didn’t work with that particular timber. I also used it on the skirting (baseboards) and found it worked well there. These too were dark stained pine with knots in them.
You can also use Zinsser Cover Stain to block any tannins that come through after the Multi Stop has been applied. I like zinsser cover stain because it’s dry within an hour and is oil-based and no staining is going to come through that. It can be painted over within an hour.
Making good is still a preparation process. It basically means to make good any holes and indentations you can see with appropriate fillers.
At this point you will see that there are lots of gaps and holes to be filled. Use decorators caulk to fill in any long gaps where the timber meets. Painters caulk is basically flexible filler ready to use in a tube.
You will need to purchase a mastic gun to use the decorators caulk. Using a sharp knife you will need to open the end of the tube by cutting it and cut a 45-degree angle in the nozzle. Simply place the tube in the gun and squeeze the trigger and run the decorators caulk in line with the area to be filled.
Also use 2 pack filler. two pack filler is a solvent based filler you have to mix with a hardener. This dries very quickly and very hard. Go round and look at the holes you can see and use the filler in these holes.
Do not overfill with this filler you will find it hard to sand down. It is better to underfill and to apply second filler, rather than overfill.
The client opted to use Helmi 30 as their preferred finished coat. Helmi 30 is a satin finish so it dries with a slight sheen, not a shine. You can use any water based finish coats over the top. Benjamin Moore do some very good paints, expensive but so worth it.
I applied the first coat of paint as a spray finish. After this first coat has dried I then used fine surface filler to fill any surface blemishes. These were sanded down and touched over with a small brush. Once this was dry I then applied my second finish coat.
Again you can use a small microfibre roller and a brush to do the same job. You will find with a microfiber rad roller sleeve it gives a very good finish on your fireplace surround.
You may get some staining coming through the subsequent coats. If this happens simply purchase an aerosol can of BIN. This is very handy to simply spray on to the areas of staining.
As it dries quickly it will not hold you up and will allow you to paint 10 minutes or so after you have applied it.
As a fireplace surround is a piece of furniture make sure you give it a good couple of weeks before you put anything on the mantelpiece.
The reason for this is that water-based paints take anything between 3 to 4 weeks to ‘fully cure’.
Although the paint is dry within an hour it needs to go through a curing process of hardening. Just be mindful of the curing process before allowing anything or anyone to lean up against it or on top of the fireplace surround