How to restore a cast iron fireplace – part 3, the reveal!

Stubborn AND scary

Stubborn AND scary

Parts 1 and 2 of this tale may have had you crying – why didn’t you just get it blasted?

Well, we did consider it. But actually, the metal isn’t in the best of shapes in places – My Love has dimples – so, blasting it ran the risk of these worsening. There was also the cost to consider.

There’s also the fact that I am exceedingly stubborn. If I start something, I finish it.

And finish it I did. The (perfect) timing of finishing getting all the paint off meant we could get a fire installed before the plasterer turned up.

Choosing an actual fire was a pretty dull process which I won’t bore you with. But after many hours of research and show-room wanderings we went with a Gazco and a vented flue (cheaper and more effective than sorting the chimney out. And, no, we didn’t consider a wood burner, we’re way too lazy……)

So, when the gas man turned up with his pneumatic drill, here’s the moment the bricks came tumbling out:


There was a lot of dust…..

We later returned from work to find the fire in place. Hurrah!

With the fire installed the plastering could start. The filthy dirty messy plasterer. Now, he was actually (shock horror!) pretty good at covering the fireplace as we nagged him constantly. But we then neglected to put the dehumidifier in that room whilst the plaster dried. So days later when we took off the covers:

Rust on a cast iron period fireplace

Rust central

Yep, that baby can RUST. Unprotected, it can rust up in just a couple of days like a good’un. I won’t lie, this reduced me to tears. Actual real big ploppy tears.

But I pulled myself together and began mournfully scrubbing My Love with my wire brush and wire wool. Scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing. To little avail:

Rust on a cast iron period fireplace

Oh! My Love!

(True facts:

  • Constant rust dust in the air tastes just like blood.
  • Your bogeys will go an interesting maroon colour.)

And then one day on a chance visit to Screw Fix my glorious hubbie came home with these:

wire brush drill bits

This is quite possibly the best thing he has EVER bought me (and he’s bought me Tiffanys diamonds…..)

You pop one of these little darlings on a drill and away you go! You gotta be careful not to overdo it or press too hard so’s not to damage the metal but gradually you can not only get rid of the rust and any pesky paint chips but also bring up a beautiful sheen to the metal.

It still took HOURS, so don’t be fooled, but it was exceedingly satisfying.

And then finally, we were ready for the last stage. And, strangely, the quickest.

All you do is smear on grate polish (which costs just a couple of quid) and then buff it off:

cast iron fireplace black grate polish

Dot it on….

Period cast iron fireplace black grate polish

Rub it in….

Period cast iron fireplace black grate polish


At the bottom of the fireplace I hadn’t bothered to remove all the rust, knowing this would be covered up by the carpet. But I thought I’d give the grate polish a go and see how it fared. Result: pretty good!

Period cast iron fireplace black grate polish

Hiding the rust

Period cast iron fireplace black grate polish

The end.

And, that was it. Done. My long-running affair finally over.

Thanks for sticking with these blog posts but I hope they’ve been interesting and – importantly – may one day be of use to someone else.

Oh, you want to see the finished thing in all its glory? I thought you’d never ask! Go on then, take a peek!


Filed under Fireplace

7 responses to “How to restore a cast iron fireplace – part 3, the reveal!

  1. Looks fabulous!! My favorite picture is of the bricks tumbling out. (They were supposed to come out to make room for the fire, right??) What did you line the inside of the fireplace with (the part you painted gray)? Did you have to use something heat-proof? I want a fire insert for our fireplace … but that’s not at the top of the priority list quite yet. Maybe next year!

  2. It really is beautiful! Can’t stop looking at it. Total fireplace envy over here. You’ve done a fab job 🙂 Now go get yourself a slice of cake. All that hard work deserves a treat!! xx

  3. Stunning, so much hard work, so much worth it. Awesomesauce lady xxx

  4. Pingback: This Week’s News… | lansdowne revisted

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