Asked on Nov 7, 2019

How do I remove two layers of crackle paint from my fireplace mantel?

Robyn GarnerSusanWilliam


I have a lovely fireplace mantel and surround with nice detailing. The previous owner, who was an furniture artist, painted the mantel and surround with green crackle paint and an cream overlay of this same paint.What do I need to use to remove both layers of crackle paint - supply list would be great and appreciated, along with instructions.

Crackle painted fireplace. I want to paint it a satin or flat white.

7 answers
  • K. Rupp
    on Nov 7, 2019

    You could strip it. But I would just start sanding! I usually skip that step. The downside of not stripping is that there will be a lot more dust so you will want to have your Vaccuum connected to the sander or just right there ready to vac everything up . Wear a mask for dust protection because the dust is so fine you can hurt your lungs. Start with a very very coarse sandpaper around 100. The lower the number, the more wood will be taken off and it will be much easier. Get yourself an orbital sander and a sanding kit. you will want to get an orbital sander for large areas, and for Sanding tough crevices and grooves

    You will need some specialty sanding materials. Sanding tools that can get into really tiny crevices can be purchased at a woodworking store like woodcraft and rockler. Woodcraft is where I got mine. You can buy sanding blocks with wedges and points to get into those hard to reach areas. There are even sanding cords you can buy to go around crevices of spindles etc. that you might want to have on hand when you do other projects. These are a few that I have that work great!!!!:

    For a general page of sanding supplies:

    Sand everything down with that coarse sandpaper and then do it all over again with a 220 sandpaper. Vaccuum and use a tack cloth to get all the dust off.

    If you are going to stain it, you will want to use a preconditioner on the wood so the wood will accept the stain evenly. this depends a lot on the type of wood it is as well. Then you will need a good stain if you go this route.

    If you paint it:

    Then the quality of paint is a huge factor!! You will want to use something super heavy duty for around the fireplace especially when there will be ash. You will want to use a paint that you can just wipe down. ! If you are putting the time in to prep this surround well you will want a good paint that will last. Benjamin Moore ADVANCE!! $50 per gallon but it's so worth it!!! Use their Benjamin Moore primer they suggest for underneath advance. That paint is an excellent cabinet paint( it has self leveling properties and dries like an enamel) and you don't need a topcoat. You want to lightly sand in between coats with a 220. At the Benjamin Moore store, they have a direction packet on how to use ADVANCE to get the best result. I have used it many times and I always pick this paint for furniture, cabinets or anything that I want to last!! I seriously just wipe it down when it gets dirty. Anyway, hope this helps. So here is your list:



    orbital sander

    sanding blocks, wedges, any of the above sanding supplies!

    100-220 sandpaper


    preconditioner/stain, or paint

    Good luck! Looks like a beautiful project!

    • Susan
      on Nov 8, 2019

      Thanks for your detailed instructions and step by step process.

      I think I’ll opt for the Citristrip due to the age and detail of the fireplace, to remove the paint, rather than sanding.

      But may use your suggestions on the priming and repainting process and products to use - Very helpful and detailed. Thanks so much!

  • I would strip it. Paint on citristrip, let it sit until it bubbles, then use a plastic putty knife to scrape it away. I always discard the goo in a cardboard box as I work. You may need to repeat this until the paint is gone. For the detailed bits, use a wire stripping brush and scrape away the paint. When you're done, you will need to clean the whole thing with mineral spirits until it's not sticky anymore. Let it dry and sand what you can to smooth the wood. Then refinish it how you want.

    Citristrip is nice because it doesn't smell awful as you work.

    • Susan
      on Nov 8, 2019

      Super strait forward advice and guidance. Thank you so much. I’m ready to take on this project now!

  • Robyn Garner
    on Nov 7, 2019

    I also use CitriStrip - no fumes/odor for indoor use. Agreed that you must have a box or lined garbage can at hand to scrape the gunk into. You can use a wire brush for the detailing but be cautious as it may be too rough and a toothbrush may be needed. Sanding paper rough to fine. Cleaning cloths and your choice of finishing materials.

  • Betsy
    on Nov 8, 2019

    Hi Susan: Like Robyn, I use CitriStrip. I use a plastic putty knife to strip the paint once it's ready to be removed. I clean the crevices and fancy work with a toothbrush. This stuff is really nice and works on horizontal and vertical surfaces. Good luck

    • Betsy
      on Nov 9, 2019

      You can do this, I have faith in you. If the tooth brush doesn't work for you, you can get a cheap bristle hair brush from the dollar store, they work, too:) Good luck

  • Susan
    on Nov 8, 2019

    Great straightforward advice! Photos very helpful too. Gives me the confidence I need to do this project myself. Thank you.

  • Robyn Garner
    on Nov 8, 2019

    Susan, You CAN do this yourself and you WILL have a great result! 😎👍

    Just make sure you cover everything around where you're working so nothing else gets ruined. Especially when you use the toothbrush, be careful as it will fling gunk if you're very exuberant lol! Wear glasses when you do that part so you're safe.

    Yes, use a flexible putty knife so you don't gouge the wood (don't dig at it). All will be fine as long as you let the CitriStrip do the work for you. I see you're nervous about this so just start at one small section so you can build confidence.

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