A Tough Coated 1700’s Fireplace Mantle

Hello Milk Paint lovers!  This is Jenn Baker of Eight Hundred Furniture, LLC.  I’ve got a great project to share with you today.  How many of you have found an old window sash at your local antique store or a fabulously crusty picture frame that has amazing patina?  Now how many of you have scratched your heads as you wondered how you’re supposed to display your gorgeous finds without bringing paint chipping into your home?

Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint has just the product to solve your problem!  Say “hello” to Tough Coat.

tough coat

Tough Coat is a non-yellowing water-based top coat that is perfect for sealing in chipping paint.  Best of all, it’s low odor, low VOC and it’s self-leveling to help minimize the appearance of brush strokes.

I have been using Tough Coat more and more on my painting projects and it is officially a must-have product in my paint cabinet.  I recently used it on an old mantle from the 1700’s!  (It was taken out of a home that was built in the 1700’s, so that’s how the seller knew the date.)  It was absolutely gorgeous but it was very crusty and had TONS of chipping paint all over it.  It was the perfect chance to break out my stash of Tough Coat and let it shine!


I like squeezing out my Tough Coat into a smaller container, like an ironstone mug or a ceramic bowl.


I apply Tough Coat with a foam applicator or a paint brush, depending on the surface.  If I’m doing the top of a table or dresser, I’ll use a foam applicator because my surface is flat.  For my mantle, I used a regular old paint brush.


When you put Tough Coat on an old wood piece, you’ll notice that the wood will darken slightly.  I personally LOVE this because it brings out the character of my piece and creates contrast between the wood and the chipping paint.


See what I mean?  The left side is untreated and the right side has one layer of Tough Coat.

I’m so pleased with how my mantle turned out!  It’s absolutely stunning and now it’s 100% safe to use.

All of the original paint is sealed in and isn’t going anywhere.  The texture is gorgeous.


Some parts of the trim are missing, but the majority are in tact so I’m calling it a “win” considering how old the mantle is.


I’m sure you’ve seen statement pieces like this during your antiquing trips before, haven’t you?

Now you don’t have to shy away from bringing pieces like this into your home.


Open up a bottle of Tough Coat and let the magic begin!  Here are a few tips for working with this product:

  1. Gently swirl your bottle to combine the contents – don’t shake it.  This will create air bubbles that may show up in your finish if you don’t brush them out.
  2. After application, Tough Coat will be dry to the touch within 30 minutes to an hour.  This makes for a quick makeover, but it does require 30 days to fully and completely cure.  Be gentle with your piece during the cure time.
  3. Don’t over brush your Tough Coat when you apply it.  Just put it on and let it be.  If you brush too much, you’ll create brush strokes.
  4. Tough Coat is for INDOOR use only.  If you’re looking for something to use outside, consider our Tung Oil.
  5. Tough Coat is not food safe, so we do not recommend it to be used on breadboards or wooden bowls.  Use Hemp Oil for those projects instead.

I hope you’ve been inspired to give this amazing product a try.  Be sure to share your masterpieces with MMSMP on social media so others are inspired too!

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4 thoughts on “A Tough Coated 1700’s Fireplace Mantle

  1. Terri

    great tip. We have several windows, furniture pieces that could use some help and have been wondering how to approach without ruining. Thank you!

  2. Gayleen Frye

    Just purchased your milk paint & bonding. I am reading through it all, so much! Anyway I am wondering on durability for say a kitchen island that I want to milk paint. Do you use the hemp oil, tung oil or top coat? Is it possible to use the hemp oil, then poly? I love the look of the hemp oil, just want it lasting & durable!

  3. Teresa

    This is absolute prim perfection. If it is ever for sale, please let me know!


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