I've a project coming up where I need to refinish 20-25 gas fireplace mantles, which are essentially a veneer top. Problems range from simple scratches to severe checking/buckling due to sun and/or moisture damage.
While I'll look for more photos and add them to this thread as I find them, I thought I'd get this going asking for HELP!
I've very little experience with this kind of salvage work, and you WON'T hurt my feelings asking any question(s).
What I do know is these tops are a veneer of some species, and it looks like a poly was used. I don't know the species, and I don't know if in fact it was a poly. They were built about 17 years ago. All of the moisture/sun damaged ones are triangle shaped, with the fireplace sitting "inside" a corner. Other fireplaces are "outside" corner units, so the mantles form an "L" and these are only scratched (no sun/moisture).
Typical "outside corner" fireplace, L shaped mantle is above this:
Typical "inside corner" fireplace, triangle shaped mantle is above this:
Typical scratched or worn mantles:
Typical moisture / sun damage (two different mantles):