How to: Restore A Cast Iron Fireplace

Cast iron fireplace with monochrome tiles in the hearth

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I would say that this has been the most satisfying project in the house so far – restoring the cast iron fireplace in the master bedroom using Peelaway. Here I share the products that I used, the process with tips and the tools I used during the restoration.

Having original features in your home feels like a bonus and being able to restore them truly feels like a privilege.

When I looked through the pictures provided by the estate agent I was drawn to the fireplaces in the front bedrooms.  I have always loved original features and I was thrilled to see that the fireplaces had been kept.

Agent Picture 4
The picture of the master bedroom from the estate agent’s details

As you can see, the fireplace was VERY cream! I knew when we bought the house that I wanted to restore them back to their former glory.  It would take a lot of work, but I was sure it would be worth it.

One option is to have the fireplaces removed and then sandblasted.  Unfortunately that wasn’t an option for us as I couldn’t even see the screws that held the fireplaces where they were!  I started to do more research into what could be done and started with paint stripping products.  This is where instagram can such a great source of information.  I had found a product called “Peelaway” and by just typing that hashtag in, I found so many pictures and videos of fireplaces that had been restored and the process.  The videos are mesmerising!

A snapshot of the hashtag #peelaway featuring our fireplace too!

Peelaway came with a great reputation and seemed really easy to use.  I ordered mine from here and after checking with a couple of other ‘instagrammers’  for their tips and advice, (@littleterracedhouse and @weirgroverenovation) I ordered the sample pack so that I knew whether the Peelaway 1 or Peelaway 7 would be suitable for the fireplace.  You have to be careful of lead paint and also how many layers of paint could possibly be covering the fireplace.

We didn’t have as many paint layers on the fireplace as I thought and I was confident that the Peelaway 7 would be able to neutralise any harmful elements of the paint, so that was the one I decided to use.

Now you have your Peelaway, you have your fireplace; what’s next?

With a trusty pair of rubber gloves I set to applying with the scraper provided, making sure that it was a generous layer and getting into all the nooks and details.  Then, I waited…

Cast iron fireplace during restoration with Peelaway

The instructions said to leave it for 48 hours, which I did.  Then I peeled…

This is the result of just one treatment of Peelaway and you can see how easily the paint is scraping away

Seriously, this is the best part! The best! I bought a new scraper and a shave hook that really helped to get into all the areas I needed to.  It proved to be a good buy because there was a lot of scraping required! I just tried to take a little time here and there to work on it and try and get a section done at a time.  Once I had done as much as I felt I would do I had to apply some more on the more stubborn parts.

Scraping gets rid of a lot of the paint, but wire/steel wool and wire brushes (click here for the product I used) help to get those extra little bits off.  I would often scrape an area, then wire brush it and alternate.  Once I felt that I had finished with a section I would go over it with wire/steel wool.  It is just a case of seeing how well the paint is coming off and using each of those tools.

At this stage you could then apply a rust treatment, but our fireplace was not rusty and it had always been in the house rather than brought in from outside, so I decided not to apply one.  I wiped the fireplace down with white spirit (not water) to clean it after all the scraping to get rid of any dust and then it got really exciting…

I found an iron paste for the fireplace that would keep it black but give it a nice sheen.  There were some white specks left on the fireplace too and I wondered whether this would be covered.  It is basically like shoe polish for your fireplace.  

I used Liberon Iron Paster – you can click here to buy.


There we have it – how I a restored a cast iron fireplace! It really was a labour of love but I was right that it would be worth it in the end.  I had to keep that end result in my head whilst scraping away at the paint! I love this view in our bedroom now and there is such a lovely feeling in knowing that you have restored an original feature to its former glory and created an area of your home that you can look at and feel happy with.

Cast iron fireplace restoration using Peelaway.
It is the first thing I see in the morning!

If you have any questions about the process or products that I’ve used then please comment below, contact me here or via instagram @houseofspolland Videos of the process can be found there.  I’ve tried to include links here to all the products used.

Let me know if you take on a project like this yourself – I love before and after pictures!

Lydia x

How to Restore A Cast Iron Fireplace

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