Wood Fireplace Mantels take a lot of Heat!
When it’s time to snuggle and be cozy, there’s no better place to be than before a blazing fireplace.
And if you’re like me, you’ll also get that fire going when you wake up in the morning or come in after the sun goes down, whether with gas-fired logs or the real thing.
But all that heat and time so close to the fire takes a toll on a wood fireplace mantel unless it’s become stable and dry long before it enters your home.
Get “Old” Wood For Your “New” Fireplace Mantel
Choose your wood, then pick a style.
Choosing reclaimed wood for a fireplace mantel will be the best decision in the whole process that you will make.
The reclaimed wood for mantels that I’m calling “old” here, was likely harvested 50 years ago or more and has long since cured in place in a barn or a building and will no longer shrink or twist under any circumstance.
Wood needs to cure slowly over a long period otherwise it can shrink & twist. And a wood mantel exposed to high heat at close range can be affected and become warped even when it’s been kiln dried as well, unless it’s also reclaimed.
When Looks Are Deceiving
Rustic mantels and mantels with a live edge by their nature may look rugged and therefore reclaimed, but don’t just assume that they are.
And while some method of kiln drying should be considered as a standard baseline procedure for any wood fireplace mantel, it needs to be done at low temperatures over a prolonged period of time.
Higher heat for a much shorter period of time, are additionally required to remove any bug infestations that may go unseen deep within the wood.
Of course the slow, steady drying I’ve been talking about has proceeded this.
Bugs in the Wood
Ick! It can happen but doesn’t have to. Seeing granules of fine sawdust is the giveaway that the high heat in your fireplace still isn’t hot enough to kill any live borers that may be in your wood.
A trusted reclaimed wood supplier can guarantee that this should never happen to you. But have no worries that you’ll actually see them if you find that they’re there.
Additional chemical treatment might be necessary if you do.
On the other hand, the bore holes and worm trails that have been created are considered added value in most circles. Some woodworkers even go out of their way to replicate them and we certainly applaud their creativity for that.
It’s a testament to the unique organic style that comes with the package when you purchase an authentically rustic, reclaimed wood fireplace mantel.
Can a Live Edge Mantel Survive?
“Live Edge” means different things to different people.
We all love the way it looks. And it’s easy to get excited about the concept of a live edge bark mantel.
But don’t get confused about what that really means.
Some people have the idea that a live edge mantel with bark is going to stay that way and the bark won’t fall away. But no, that’s not going to happen
and the bark will fall away. The truth is that no bark can withstand the heat of a fireplace for any length of time – even if it is reclaimed.
Or admitedly, a live edge mantel could be maintained if it’s epoxied or coated well with a binding surface edge. But I shudder to consider some noxious agents that might get heated.
A Live Edge Mantel can also be described when talking about natural patina or original surface, or perhaps even hand hewn styles.
That definition of live edge would refer to a surface that’s “live” because it’s as it was in it’s original form, or as it was when recovered.
Going with the Grain
No close up look at reclaimed wood fireplace mantels would be complete without a reflection on grain.
As an alternative to rustic mantels, smooth planed mantels mantels that reveal intricate and elegant grain patterns, create more of a Classic and refined wood mantel.
Heart Pine particularly is legendary for the uniqueness of it’s grain patterns and their variety.
And counting up 200 years of growth and more from rings in the grain would not be unusual.
Cut to Your Specifications & Finished with Natural Wood Oil
It might be just that fun and easy.
Or give us your dimensions and share thoughts about what you you like from mantels examples here.
We can custom create one to your exact specifications and have it ready within 2 – 4 weeks.
Your reclaimed wood fireplace mantel can also be finished with an eco-friendly, non-VOC wood oil that will have no out-gassing or noxious complications from heat.
And then that’s the time for getting cozy.