How to restore a cast-iron fireplace
House Beautiful's decorating expert Bridget Bodoano reveals how to revive a Victorian fireplace
Q. How can I restore my cast-iron fireplace?
My Victorian fireplace has layers of paint on it and I’d like to strip it back to restore it to its original glory, but I’m worried about damaging the metal underneath. What’s the best way to tackle this?
Bridget Bodoano says:
Thanks to modern, eco- friendly, water-based strippers, such as Polycell Less Mess Paint Stripper, about £13.40 for 500ml (polycell. co.uk) and Home Strip Paint and Varnish Remover, about £8 for 500ml (ecosolutions. co.uk), this process is a lot less hazardous than it used to be.
As the fireplace is Victorian it’s possible that the original
paint layers may contain lead, which can cause breathing problems. You can get lead testing kits from large DIY stores, with advice on dealing with lead on the internet.
Here's what direct.gov says about lead paint
When stripping paint always follow instructions, protect the area with dust sheets and wear goggles and rubber gloves. Use stiff bristle or nylon brushes (wire can scratch) and remember that toothbrushes are great for getting into awkward spaces.
Afterwards, smooth down the surface using fine wire wool and a rust remover, then wipe with white spirit, not water, to prevent new rust stains. Use a stove and grate polish such as Liberon Iron Paste, Zebo or Hotspot and the fireplace should be restored.