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How to Clean Slate Fireplace


Want a clean slate fireplace hearth or fireplace surround? Here are the instructions you need for routine slate cleaning, deep cleaning, stain removal and polishing. Choose from either inexpensive home cleaning remedies or more expensive but powerful commercial slate cleaning products.

Natural slate is a durable product with an earthy, welcoming vibe. Because it is porous, however, it tends to absorb moisture and stains. And dust and dirt can accumulate, especially in the corners, and over time become difficult to remove.

Routine Cleaning of Slate Fireplace Hearths and Surrounds

  • Dust, sweep or vacuum the fireplace slate.
  • For routine cleaning, use a cloth to clean slate with a few drops of dish washing detergent or Spic and Span in a half bucket of water. Rinse with clean water; then wipe dry with another cloth. Allow to dry overnight before using additional cleaners or polishing.

Clean slate with soup and water for a routine cleaning

How to Deep Clean Slate

When the surface is thoroughly dried after a routine cleaning, try either of the cleaning processes recommended below:

Commercial products to clean slate

  •  Using a soft cloth, wipe the slate down with a thin layer of teak oil. With another clean cloth, remove any excess.

Clean slate with teak oil.

How to Remove Stains from Slate Hearths and Fireplace Surrounds

If the deep cleaning left any stains, try any of the procedures listed below to get stains off of slate:

  • One method of removing stains is to clean slate with a paste mix of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Wait until the bubbling ceases, then apply the paste to the stain. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then wipe off with a clean, moist cloth. Do not get this paste mixture on grout between slabs of slate.

clean slate stains with hydrogen peroxide and baking soda paste

  • If soot and smoke stains are the primary problem, you can clean slate with Paint N Peel without using harsh chemicals.

Remove soot and smoke stains with Paint N Peel

  • For persistent stains that don’t respond to the hydrogen peroxide paste, scrub with Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) carefully following manufacturer’s directions.

clean slate with trisodium phosphate

How to Polish Slate

Some of the commercial slate cleaners include a polishing agent. And if you have used teak oil to clean slate, that often provides a sufficient gloss.

In the eighteenth century, slate hearths were polished with hot mutton fat. As a 21st century alternative, we recommend teak oil or furniture polish.


Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance

How Much Firewood Do I Need?

How Much Firewood Do I Need?

How much firewood should I buy, and when should I buy it?  How can I predict how much firewood I will need for the fireplace for the entire season? These are questions that may lead busy homeowners to postpone ordering their firewood.  Here are some answers from fireplace experts.

How much firewood?

While there’s no surefire way to figure out how much firewood you will need for a year, and in colder winters you will certainly use more than usual, here are some guidelines for estimating. In 1998, Vermont

  • homeowners who heat primarily with wood burned almost 5 cords;
  • those who burned wood as a supplement to other home heating systems used just over 2 cords; and
  • those who burned firewood only for pleasure used less than half a cord.

What’s a cord of firewood?

Glad you asked. A cord of firewood is 128 cubic feet of closely stacked wood, including the air space between fire logs. The terms “face cord,” “rack,” “truck load,” and “pile” have no agreed meaning or legal meaning. In fact, Oregon consumer laws ban the use of these terms in commerce! So, a stack of firewood

  • 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 8 feet long is a cord,
  • as is a stack 2 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 16 feet long.

When buying wood, try to negotiate with the seller in terms of real cords or percentages of real cords. You can also use the examples above to estimate amounts, or you can just look at the amount he is offering and decide if it’s worth the price to you.

When to buy or gather firewood?

Firewood needs at least 6 months to season, so early spring is a great time to buy or gather your wood. Any insects living under the bark are dormant and likely to die before fall. Prices are generally down and supplies are good. Try to buy only what you will use in a year. You can carry over some wood into a second year, but it may give off more smoke than recently seasoned wood and it is more likely to harbor insects.

You will find that land owners whose property has been logged will welcome you if you ask permission to salvage firewood. Loggers leave behind about 50% of each tree, cluttering the landscape but providing you with free firewood. With a chain saw, safety goggles, and a firewood splitter, you can tailor your firewood to the dimensions of your fireplace while you save money.

So, if you just use your fireplace for romance and relaxation, buy a half cord of firewood each spring and let it season until fall. If you supplement a heating system with a woodstove or fireplace insert, buy two cords. If you heat exclusively with firewood, you’ll need about 4 to 5 cords, depending on the severity of your winters.

Posted in Using Your Fireplace Tagged with:

Summer End Fireplace Checklist

End of Summer Fireplace Checklist

End of Summer Checklist for Fireplace Owners

As summer comes to an end, fireplace owners can avoid hassles and prepare for colder weather with this End of Summer Fireplace Checklist.


Clean out last year’s ashes from your fireplace.

Fireplace Checklist: Clean out last year's ashes.

If by chance ashes are still in your fireplace from last year, now’s the time to clean them out. Sprinkling moist, used coffee grounds onto the ashes before you start clean up can reduce the amount of ash dust.

Aren’t sure what to do with the ashes when you shovel them out of the fireplace? Here are gardening uses for ashes as well as some other clever uses for fireplace ashes.


Make an appointment now with your chimney sweep.

Fireplace Checklist: Make an appointment with a chimney sweep.

While the weather is still warm, chimney sweeps have plenty of room on their schedule. After the first cold night, you could find yourself waiting for weeks to get on their schedule.

Also, some chimney sweeps offer specials during the summer to encourage business during their slower season.

Not sure how to find a qualified chimney sweep? Check this out to find out how to avoid chimney sweep scams.


Check your firewood supply.

Fireplace Checklist: Check your firewood supply.

If you have a wood-burning fireplace or woodstove, this is an essential item on you fireplace checklist. Do you have a sufficient supply? Is your firewood properly seasoned?



Check out your roof and chimney.


Fireplace Checklist: Inspect the roof and chimney.

Check your roof for loose shingles and the flashing around the chimney for leaks. Check your chimney to confirm the chimney cap is securely affixed and that no animals or nests are inside the chimney.

Once snow or ice are on the roof, you will be glad you attended to this item on the fireplace checklist while the weather was still warm.



Spruce up your fireplace and accessories.

End of Summer Fireplace Checklist:  Spruce up the fireplace and accessories.

Does the area surrounding your fireplace suffer from soot marks? Does your mantel need a cleaning or a fresh coat of paint? Have your fireplace screen, tools, and firewood holder seen better days? Does your hearth look like it is the end of a long, hard fire season instead of looking ready for a new one? Now is the season to rejuvenate your fireplace.

Pre-set your first fire of the season.

End of Summer Fireplace Checklist: Pre-Set a Fire.

Your fireplace, fireplace accessories, chimney and roof are finally all ready for that first chilly day. But there is one last item on your end of summer fireplace checklist: Pre-set your first fire. That means pre-build your fire layer by layer so it has everything it needs to go except a match.

Once the fire is pre-set, not only will your fireplace avoid that empty black hole look, but also it will be instantly ready to go when someone says, “Hey! This would be a great time for a fire in the fireplace.”


Get ahead of the game by using the 6 points of this end-of-summer checklist for fireplace owners.


Posted in Fireplace and Chimney Maintenance Tagged with:

Beach Inspired Fireplace

Beach inspired fireplaces

How to Bring the Seashore to Your Fireplace Mantel to Create a Beach Inspired Fireplace

Are you lucky enough to have a beach house with a fireplace? Or do you wish to bring mementos of your coastal holiday to your fireplace and hearth to extend the enjoyment of your lakeside or seaside vacation? Either way, creating a beach inspired fireplace is the solution.

Using Sand for a Beach Inspired Fireplace:

Sand and Shells in Jars on a Fireplace Mantel

These simple beach jars with sand and shells decorate a classic mantel.

Sand is in abundant supply just outside your beach house door. Or did you bring home some sand from your beach getaway? In brandy snifters, at the base of hurricane globes, or in other attractive glassware, pour sand in around the base of a pillar candle. To continue the seaside theme, add small seashells in the sand. You can place the shells either on top of the sand or place them against the inside wall of the glassware before you pour in the sand.


Incorporating Coral and Shells for a Beach Inspired Fireplace:

beach Inspired fireplace with shells

Shells are included in the decorations for this Oyster Wedding.

These beauties of the seas are delightful decorative accessories for your mantel. Try lining up five or seven similar shells or coral pieces across your fireplace mantel; it is simple but dramatic. Another way to display them is to gather them in glass canisters, vases, or stemware, and cluster these containers on the fireplace mantel. Alternatively, treat your best seashells or pieces of coral as candles by placing them atop candlesticks. They can also be displaced on upturned vases, wooden cubes, or even a stemmed cake plate.

If you already have a plant or flower arrangement on your fireplace mantel, consider giving it a seaside flare by adding shells. Glue gun the shells onto one end of skewers, and stick the other end into your planter or vase. Delicate seahorses are among the shells that look great displayed this way.

Or decorate your fireplace mantel with a seashell garland. Click here for directions for making your own garland of shells.


Making a Beach Inspired Fireplace with Driftwood:

driftwood on fireplace mantel

A long piece of driftwood ties together the beach inspired elements on this mantel.

Creating a fireplace mantel from a piece of driftwood is a classic way to cap a fireplace in a coastal home.

If you brought home pieces of driftwood, your mantel or hearth may be the perfect place to display them. On your fireplace mantel, nestle shells, coral, framed vacation photos, or other summer vacation mementos around and atop the driftwood. In an unused fireplace, large pieces of driftwood are a dramatic way to fill the empty, black hole.


Using Vintage Sand Buckets:

A reproduction vintage child's sand bucket and shovel adorn this mantel.

A reproduction vintage child’s sand bucket and shovel adorn this beach inspired mantel.

A toy sand bucket can add a simple charm to your fireplace mantel or hearthside. Fill it with summer’s sea shells, prop the sand shovel by it, surround it with framed photos of the kids on vacation, and you have created a simple yet delightful display to remind everyone of the fun of summer.


Utilizing Mariners’ Tools on the Fireplace:

rope in class containers on mantel

Boat rope placed inside glass containers adds a nautical feel to a coastal inspired fireplace.

Did you find fishing nets, ropes from ships, or buoys washed onto the shore during your vacation? Do you collect seaworthy equipment such as sextants or compasses? In an informal room, you can create a striking fireplace mantel display by turning fishing nets or ropes into a mantel garland. At the corners, attach buoys, seashells, or even summer swim toys such as goggles and swim fins. Add summer photos in driftwood frames to the mantel, and you have not only an eye-catching fireplace display but also a terrific reminder of your summer adventures.


Including Beach Inspired Candles on the Mantel or In the Fireplace:

candles on beachy mantel

The sea blue candles as well as the tea candles are important components of this summer mantel.

Many summer tourists bring home from their travels coastal-themed candles such as candles with shells. Also popular are tea light holders in the shape of seashells such as sea urchins. Such candles are a lovely addition to a fireplace mantel decorated with a coastal theme.

Another way to display such candles from your vacation (or candles in the seaside hues of sand, water, and sky) is with fireplace candelabra. Fireplace candelabra are designed to hold an array of candles in your fireplace, taking the place of either gas or wood logs. They are especially popular during warm weather as fireplace candelabra provide the flickering flames of a fire without the heat of burning logs.

candelabra for fireplace inspired by the beach

This candelabra is inspired by glass fishing ball floats.


A Word of Caution:

A beachy themed fireplace mantel can run the risk of being too much, too busy, too crowded. After you decorate your beach inspired fireplace, step back and take a look. If your eye does not know where to land, consider subtracting some of the elements.


Adding the keepsakes of summer to your fireplace mantel or hearth extends your enjoyment of your vacation, creates a beach inspired decor, and provides your home with a unique decorative display.



Posted in Decorating Tagged with:
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