A random conversation with the wife of the original owner and builder of my house changed my entire opinion about our fireplace mantel when I realized it was 150 year old barn wood mantel.
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I was in Walmart about a year ago when I met up with the Lowe’s, just like you met up with everyone you know at Walmart. We go to church with this older couple and they are one of the sweetest couples we know. After chit-chatting about random things she eagerly told me that she had always wanted to ask me about the fireplace mantel in our house and had anyone ever removed it?
I didn’t have the heart to tell her I really didn’t like the mantel.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her I had never really like it, but she went on to explain that when they were building our house in 1979, her parents were also tearing down an old 100+ year old barn on the family farm. Her and her husband decided right then and there that they had to have a piece of the family history in their new house and had a piece removed to use as the mantel.
That faded, hard to clean, rough sawn wood that every time I tried to dust or clean it would either tear up the duster or snag the cloth. That same mantel that I never really liked took on a whole new meaning for me that day when I realized that chunk of wood was around 150 years old and had served a another purpose before it was a mantel. If what they said was true, that barn would have been built in the mid to late 1800’s right after the Civil War and part of it had survived to become my mantel.
For me as a history buff, I swear I heard angels and birds singing at me right at this moment. (My family would be laughing at the truth of this right now reading this post.)
It is hard to find history like that and to realize it has been in my house this whole time!
While we have been renovating the front room of our home, which is also the home for the 8 and half foot stone fireplace and mantel, I have been trying to figure out what to do with the mantel to bring it back to life, or at least make it last even longer. As you can see in the following photos, it is a faded grey, rough on the edges, and is starting to develop cracks and chips from age.
I knew I didn’t want to stain the old barn wood of the mantel because I just wanted to preserve the wood and enhance the grain in it. After talking to friends, employees at different home improvement stores, and research on Pinterest of course, I decided to try a Beeswax product to condition the wood.
The project I found was Howard Feed-N-Wax. It is a wood polish and conditioner infused with beeswax and orange oil. I simply applied it on with a soft cloth and buffed off the excess to leave behind a slight sheen to the surface of the wood.
I wanted to condition and preserve the wood mantel and not stain it.
The first step was to try and clean the wood as much as possible, not an easy task considering it’s age and rough edges. Then I tested the product underneath and on one edge of the side of the mantel and left it to dry overnight. I instantly loved the soften glazed feel the wood had already after one application of the product.
The next morning, I applied the beeswax product to the entire surface and buffed the wood to a slight sheen. The change it made in the appearance of the wood was amazing.
I’m sure I may have to apply this product every six months to a year to keep up the look of the wood which is not a big concern for me really. Learning about the history of the mantel and preserving the wood has made me fall in love with this mantel instead of replacing it.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27