Watching Paint Dry or How to Paint Your Mantle

living room fireplace

A few days ago I was sitting on the sofa contemplating repainting my fireplace mantle. I’ve put it off for awhile because my plan was to make it darker. To do that I had to strip the old varnish and stain it. One small  problem. The mantle is embedded into the stone on the fireplace, so striping it would have to be done in place. All I could think about was the mess. The more I thought about it, it occurred to me the reason I didn’t like the mantle was  that it looked a great big dark spot against all the white and nothing in the room had that finish. I finally came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was paint it white to match the rest of the fireplace and bookshelves. So Today, I’m sharing how to watch paint dry or how to paint a mantle.

Of course, I forgot to take a before picture.

Seems to be my M.O. lately!

So this is what the mantle looked like in February, right after I painted the fireplace shelves white.

paint, paint brush, liquid sandpaper

Supply List:

(Luckily, the project took more time than supplies and I had everything I needed on hand.)

Here’s what you will need.
Paint Brush
Cabinet and Trim Paint
Liquid Sandpaper
Drop Cloth
Damp rag ( to clean up any spills etc.)
Paint key

coat one of paint on fireplace mantle

Step 1:

Clean your mantle with warm water. Let dry. Your mantle should be super clean. Any spots or dust will result in paint chiping and flaking later. Tape off any areas that you don’t want paint on.

Step 2:

Using a rag, thoroughly wipe down your mantle with the liquid sandpaper. Don’t miss any spots! Work it into the creases and crevices.

Liquid sandpaper takes the place of sandpaper. It’s actually a deglosser that removes the shiny, slick surface of the poly so that the paint will adhere.

Read the directions.

Mine stated that I needed to paint within 30 minutes of dry time. Please note that Liquid Sandpaper can only be used on surfaces that don’t have any large chips or divets or rough areas on the surface. If you have any of those, you should sand and repair your mantle first.

Step 3.


I used a water based semi-gloss cabinet and trim paint. Try to apply in long even coats, slightly overlapping for even coverage. Check occasionally for runs or drips.

As you can see, if you look closely, one coat was obviously not enough. After I painted the first coat, I sat around watching the paint completely dry before putting on the second coat.

This is why I titled the post Watching Paint Dry. Cause you do a little bit of painting and a lot of watching and waiting!

Step 4:

Apply the second coat of paint. Paint the second coat just like you did the first, making sure to check for runs or drips.

Watch paint dry.

I put 2 coats on in one day . One early in the morning, one late afternoon.

Step 5:

Early on day 2, I added coat three. And…you guessed it, watched paint dry!

painted fireplace mantle

On the third day I put my mantle back together.

I love the way the entire fireplace area looks. It’s so clean and now everything matches.

My OCD is happy!

I’ll probably style it a little differently soon, but for now I’m happy with it just the way it is. Aren’t you glad that I shared watching paint dry or how to paint a mantle with you?

It seriously takes an art in being patient that’s for sure!

Until next time…

Watching paint dry

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