What finish for fireplace mantel?
I'm going to be finishing our mantel shelf. I suspect that it's either cedar or redwood, based on a small sample patch that I sanded. It's currently a "rustic" raw slab of lumber that was rough cut. I don't care for the splintery rustic look, so plan to sand it smooth, add a stain of some kind, and a finishing coat. I have no idea if it's original to the 1970's house, but it's aged to a bland tannish-gray.
For stain, I was going to start with a clear or natural stain (oil based), and see how we like it, and see how it looks with the brick.
For the finish, I see a lot of retail mantel stores use poly. Is that the best finish, or would you choose something else? Water based poly, or oil? Any particular brand? Wipe on or brush on?
I've done a lot of furniture refinishing, painting, etc., but have never worked with either of these woods, so is there anything else I need to know?