Now where did I leave off?…  Remember last week when I slopped on some paint stripping goop in hopes that my fireplace mantle project would inch closer toward completion?!  Well it did.  An inch or so.  🙂

starting the second round of scraping (isn't that paint goop nasty?!)

Shall I remind you of what it used to look like???

my mantle in all of its mint green glory

The goop given me by a co-worker turned out to be just what I needed for this monster of a project. I had enough to test it out on one of the mantle posts, and it easily took off the first several layers of paint, but still not everything.

one whole post stripped

one whole post stripped

I think I figured out that the mantle was originally varnished, then covered in a few coats of black paint, a nasty nude color, several coats of off-white, and then the final lovely mint green.  Once the paint stripper made its way to the black layers, it got messy!

So Friday night I had a hot date at the Home Depot, where I picked up a whole tub of Peel Away 7 (and that super handy photocell porch light attachment!).  Then it was back down to the basement where I spread that goop like frosting all over my mantle.  Romantic, no?  Husband was away for the weekend, so it was a perfect time to stay holed up in the basement, up to my eyeballs in goopy paint, scrape-scrape-scraping away.

I coated the mantle in the goop that night and covered it with the included wax paper stuff.  Then Saturday morning after a big cup of coffee, I donned my latex gloves and got to work.

in need of another coat...

For 5 hours…  The product was definitely working hard on the many layers of paint, but unfortunately it looked as if I needed another coat (on the parts that didn’t get the original test coat).  😦

it's getting there!

So Saturday night before grabbing dinner with The Girl, I frosted that mantle again.

more scraping after the second coat

Can I tell you how gross this was?!  I don’t know if it was the varnish or the type of paint, or what, but it was dripping and gross!  But I persevered and put on a happy face!

i think i look a lot happier than i was!

Do you know what was driving me to keep at it and not throw in the towel?  The beautiful, lovingly beat up cedar being uncovered before my eyes…

i kind of love it as is!

I’ve accepted that it’s going to take one more round to get the remainder of the black paint off the surface, but I’m loving how it fills in the nicks and scars all over the wood (which is a gorgeous warm, reddish tinted wood).  The moulding along the lintel was a little uncovered treasure, hidden by the gobs of paint in all the crevices.

look at that detailing!

see that pretty moulding detail beneath the sludge?!

So here’s where I need your help.  Once I do one more round of scraping and a little steel wool sanding so that it’s pure cedar wood plus black paint stuck in the nooks and crannies, what should I do?

  1. Rub in some wood conditioner and let its original beauty shine through?
  2. Stain it a darker color?
  3. Paint it?

I think I’m leaning toward #1, but want to get some feedback.  Do you like how it’s kind of rustic and authentic?  Or do you think it would look better with a crisp coat of paint?

there it is! {please ignore all the junk in the background!!!}

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get to work on this for at least another week (but probably not until after Thanksgiving!), so we’ll all have to wait to see how it turns out!  Thanks for all your encouragement!