The fireplace mantel is a major focal point in many rooms, so painting it a different colour can give your home an instant makeover for very little money. While the process of painting a mantel is relatively straightforward, using white paint makes it slightly more complicated. If you use your fireplace regularly, your mantel is exposed to soot, which can leave behind unsightly stains and ruin a pristine white paint job.
Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into 1 gallon of water in a large bucket and stir in a few drops of dish soap to create soap suds.
Use your cleaning mixture and a nylon scrub brush to clean any dirt, soot or greasy spots on the fireplace mantel.
Wet a rag in clean water and wipe down the fireplace mantel when you're finished cleaning to rinse away the soap.
Sand the mantel with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper to prepare the surface. If the mantel was previously painted, you do not need to sand away all of the existing paint; just remove any flaking paint.
Wipe the fireplace mantel with a tack cloth to remove any dust created while you were sanding.
Paint the mantel with an oil-based white primer and a paintbrush or paint roller. The oil-based primer will cover any soot stains or discolouration on the mantel and prevent them from showing through the white paint.
Apply two coats of white latex paint to the fireplace mantel when the primer is dry. Let the first coat of paint dry before you begin to apply the second coat.
Sand the painted mantel once it's dry with an extra-fine-grit sanding sponge used wet. Keep the sponge wet as you work to create a smooth finish on your fireplace mantel.
Choose a semigloss or high-gloss white latex paint for your fireplace mantel. This will make it easy to wipe clean anytime it becomes dirty.