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How do I care for a wooden or cast-iron fireplace?

Repairing dents in wooden surrounds

If you accidentally dent your wooden surround, don't panic. Most dents can be repaired, so long as the wood hasn't split or splintered. Wood is a porous material. If it gets wet it will soak up the water like a sponge, causing it to expand. This characteristic can be used to invisibly repair dents.

What you will need
  • A cup of hot water

  • Toilet paper or kitchen roll

  • Wax for finishing

 

What to do
  • Make sure the damaged area is free of dust or debris

  • Take a couple of sheets of toilet paper or kitchen roll and screw them up

  • Dip the paper into the hot water, taking care not to scald yourself

  • Hold the wet paper against the dented area for 20-30 seconds, depending how deep the dent is

  • Remove the paper and immediately dry the area

  • The dented area should have raised

  • Repeat if necessary

  • Allow the surround to dry for at least 24 hours

  • Once the timber is dry, you can wax the repaired area using the instructions in our waxing section

 

Waxing a wooden surround

Waxing a wooden surround will revive old finishes and give protection at the same time. It protects the materials underneath the wax while adding a sheen to the surface. It is normal to wax a wooden surround every 1-2 years, but you can do so more often if you like. Wax polishes are available in both tinted and clear finishes.

What you will need
  • Wire wool (0000 grade)

  • Lint free duster

  • Gloves

  • Hand wax product such as Fiddies Supreme Wax

 

What to do
  • If the wood has been waxed before, you will need to remove the old wax so that you don't simply create a build up of wax on the surface

  • Wax can be cleaned off by applying turpentine to the wood with a soft rag, then lightly rubbing down the surface along the grain using 0000 grade wire wool (remember to wear gloves when using the wire wool)

  • Apply a small amount of wax to the surface of the wooden surround

  • Use the duster to rub the wax into the wood using light circular motions, going against the grain

  • Allow the wax to set (following the manufacturer's directions)

  • Use a soft, clean cloth to buff to a shine, using circular motions

  • You may need to use a furniture brush on carved areas

  • Repeat application of wax as necessary

 

Care of cast iron fireplaces

Cast iron is a beautiful material for fireplaces, but it needs a little TLC when first installed and from time to time to keep it looking its best. A protective coating is applied during manufacture which can give a dull appearance to the metal. Polishing a newly installed cast iron fireplace will bring the surface up to a shine ready to show it off to all your friends. The polished surfaces of your cast iron fireplace will become dull over time, so occasional polishing is necessary to restore the appearance

Cast iron will rust quickly if exposed to moisture. Direct contact with liquids, for example by spilling or by wiping with a damp cloth, will quickly cause formation of rust unless immediately dried. Cast iron can also be affected by moisture in the atmosphere. For this reason it is best not to install a cast iron fireplace in a room which gets damp, or in a freshly plastered room. If surface rust develops then polishing the fireplace will usually completely remove it, as well as protecting the surface.

What you will need
  • Gloves

  • Lint free duster

  • Vacuum cleaner

  • Wire wool (0000 grade)

  • Metal polish (you can also use WD40 or 3 in 1)

 

What to do
  • Make sure you wear gloves

  • Apply a small amount of metal polish to some wire wool

  • Use the wire wool to firmly rub the polish into the metal

  • Repeat until all the polished areas are covered (you may need to rub hard to remove rust or other marks)

  • Use a clean piece of wire wool to rub down the surface of the polished area

  • Continue until you are satisfied with the level of shine.

  • Apply a small amount of polish to a new piece of wire wool

  • Work the polish in to build a protective coating