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Beautiful wood, beautifully finished, transforms a “faceless” fireplace

Blazing logs turn any fireplace into a delightful magnet for family and friends. Inevitably, though, the fire dies down and — if the fireplace is little more than a hole in the wall – so does its attractiveness. But for every “faceless” fireplace there is a way to give it elegant substance and style.

When you start looking in home centers, lumberyards, fireplace specialty stores and on the Internet, you'll find mantels and surrounds crafted in every conceivable style and from many types of wood. Most come as ready-to-install kits that are to your requirements, and all they need are staining and finishing to bring out the wood's natural beauty and then a fairly simple installation.

To add extra style to this fireplace, slabs of white-streaked black marble were set around the opening and on the floor as a new hearth. Before the mahogany mantel and surround were installed, they were finished with Minwax® Wood Finish™ Red Oak followed by three coats of Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane in a gloss sheen. After the topcoat was completely dry, the unit was fixed to the wall with construction adhesive and a few finish nails, making a forgettable firebox the living room's new center of attention.

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