Caring for Limestone mantels
Limestone is a form of sedimentary rock that comes from the beds of evaporated seas and lakes and from animal shells. It may be 150 million years old but it is one of the most porous of natural stones.
Mantels are treated with a good penetrating sealant before they leave the workshops so they are protected before installation. The sealant makes an invisible film within the pores that allows the stone to breathe.
For day to day care it is sufficient to brush lightly with a soft brush or cloth to remove dust. In the event of a spillage, blot with paper towel to avoid making a larger mess, the sealant will help reject liquids that can leave a stain. If dirt has built up on the surface and a more thorough clean is required there are proprietary mild soap cleaners that are best used to loosen the dirt. When the mantel is completely dry sealant can be re-applied to maintain the protection.
Caring for Marble mantelpieces
Dusting with a dry cloth should be all that is necessary and an occasional waxing with a clear proprietary wax. The most exposed section to staining and dirt is the shelf so this should be more regularly waxed. White spirit should not be allowed near the marble nor should any greasy substances. Marble is porous and wax is its only protection. Any spill should be cleaned up as soon as possible. Blot spills with a paper towel or clean rag, wiping a spill may spread it over a larger area making a larger mess. Use only cold water or preferably a proprietary cleaner, blotting the area several times. If a stain is still present when dry a chemical poultice may need to be applied. The only way a stain can be removed is to literally pull it out of the marble with both a chemical and a material that will absorb the stain.
Caring for Marble Mantels
Cast iron is porous in nature and is initially protected either by a wax that is heated in to the surface or oil. Water or damp is to be avoided as if left untreated will cause the mantel to rust. If rust does appear where the surrounding plaster meets the mantel or elsewhere, rub with fine wire wool and protect with WD40 motor oil.
The wire wool will not spoil the finish on your mantel if a fine grade is used. Remove dust from mouldings and corners with a stiff brush and dust with a dry cloth. An occasional light oil will keep the mantel protected.
Caring for Wood mantels
Different manufacturer’s use different finishing methods. Those supplied by Mantels are finished in the traditional manner with shellac and wax but the advice will be the same for all wood.
Treat as a piece of furniture, do not stand hot cups on your mantel and avoid alcohol spillage. Remove dust from mouldings and corners with a fairly stiff 1” paintbrush, dust with a dry cloth. Do not use spray on wax as this contains solvent that will dissolve the beeswax and remove the finish. Use a proprietary polish containing beeswax as per the instructions.
Caring for Cast Iron Mantels
Cast iron is porous in nature and is initially protected either by a wax that is heated in to the surface or oil. Water or damp is to be avoided as if left untreated will cause the mantel to rust. If rust does appear where the surrounding plaster meets the mantel or elsewhere, rub with fine wire wool and protect with WD40 motor oil. The wire wool will not spoil the finish on your mantel if a fine grade is used. Remove dust from mouldings and corners with a stiff brush and dust with a dry cloth. An occasional light oil will keep the mantel protected.
Caring for cast iron and steel inserts/baskets
There is no need for rust to appear on any metalwork, the only cause for this will be contact with water.
Black leaded inserts and baskets are protected by graphite polish which is oily and is rubbed in to the surface. After application and it has been left some hours to dry it can be buffed up to give the ironwork surface a patina giving depth and light to the finish. It is also most effective at protecting the iron or steel from corrosion and rust. The graphite polish is easy to apply and usually only required intermittently during the year.
Bright polished inserts and baskets require more maintenance and will discolour with heat and be more prone to rust than the above. Regular oiling with WD40 protects the iron and it is best to have a rain cowl fitted on the roof to reduce rain penetration. Keep the area dry and never use a damp cloth to clean over this finish. Some baskets are made in stainless steel which does not rust in which case baby oil wiped over with a soft cloth is very effective at keeping it clean.
There will always be changes to the appearance of a fireplace when it has been in close contact to a gas fire or even more so solid fuel. This is normal and should be expected as it is a working and functioning appliance.
Caring for Hearths
Never stand on the hearth as the weight could scratch or even fracture it. For marble or polished granite wipe over with a dry cloth to dust and occasionally spray wax for sheen. Honed granite should be wiped over with a damp cloth and occasionally re-sealed with the relevant sealant to protect from staining. With slate for general maintenance wipe over with a dry cloth. Every now and then wipe over and rub in slate oil with a soft cloth, making sure that the hearth is completely clean from grit so as not to scratch the surface. The oil helps to protect the surface and brings out a jet black colour to the slate. Ashpans should be used to collect the cinders and ash created with a solid fuel fire, empty between fires as piled up ash builds up heat that can crack the back hearth.
Limestone hearths need regular cleaning with a proprietary mild soap cleaner and thoroughly sealed at regular intervals to be kept at their best. Standard household cleaners are not formulated to clean stone. The back hearth underneath the flu area is particularly prone to smoke and soot damage. (debris may come down the chimney after it has been swept or if there is rain penetration). Cowls can be installed to help lessen this problem and debris usually reduces within a month or so after being swept. It is best to hoover the debris and soot so as not to spread this acidic material, keep well sealed. Black back hearths require very little maintenance.
Caring for Gas coals
These can be gently removed from the gas fire, brushed over lightly to remove carbon deposits and placed back in position. Should they be losing the black colouration there is now a specialised fibre paint that will restore the colour. If they are beginning to break up small bags of coal are available for replacement.
Caring for Gas fire pebbles/logs and driftwood
These are made from expanded ceramic fibre and discolour very quickly.They can be gently removed from the fire, brushed over lightly and placed back in position but will require replacing more regularly than coal. Under no circumstances should real stone pebbles be used as when hot they could explode and pass into the room as hot debris. This could cause injury to people and damage to furnishings.
All gas appliances should be checked by a qualified Corgi registered gas fitter annually.
Carbon monoxide detectors are a very sensible precaution to have within the home wherever gas appliances and solid fuel is used and we strongly recommend their use, likewise the equally important smoke detectors.
Fireguards should be used particularly with children, the elderly and when the fire is left unattended.