How to Wax a Reclaimed Wood Mantel

6 materials
3 Hours

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)!

You can always wax your mantel before installing it, of course. But when we hung ours, I wasn't sure if I wanted it bare or waxed, so we left it up for a few weeks before I made the final call!

Step 1: Sand 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 (we used 3 large bolts inserted into the mantel and wall). Or, if you know you want it waxed, go ahead and tackle those steps first and install at the end! Here is the photo of the before when the mental was installed and styled, but unwaxed!

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....

And after!

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 that's it! We love how it looks! I love the bare look too, but the darker wood tone matches the look and feel of our home better, and we're so happy with it! It's been installed for 3 years and counting this way!

I hope you'll head to the blog for more DIY and home decor inspiration!

Suggested materials:

  • 120 grit sandpaper   (Lowes)
  • 220 grit sandpaper   (Lowes)
  • Dustbuster   (Amazon)
See all materials
Ana Ochoa - Fiddle Leaf Interiors
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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