Building a fireplace mantel can seem like a daunting task, but with the right instructions it can be easy! In this guide we will walk you through the process step-by-step, from planning to installation. We’ll answer some of the most common questions about how to build a fireplace mantel, and provide helpful tips along the way. So whether you’re a DIY novice or an experienced contractor, read on for all the information you need to build your perfect fireplace mantel!
What Is the Best Wood to Make a Fireplace Mantel?
There are a few different types of wood that can be used to make a fireplace mantel, but the best option is usually going to be hardwood. Hardwoods are more durable and less likely to warp or crack over time. Some good choices for hardwoods include oak, maple, and cherry. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, you can also use MDF (medium density fiberboard). Just keep in mind that MDF is not as strong or durable as hardwood, so it’s not ideal for areas where there will be a lot of weight on the mantel (like if you plan on putting heavy decorations on it).
Another thing to consider when choosing wood for your mantel is the fire rating. Some woods are more fire resistant than others, so if you’re worried about your mantel catching fire, be sure to choose a wood that has a high fire rating. Some good choices for fire-resistant woods include cherry and maple. 
Once you’ve decided on the type of wood you want to use, it’s time to start measuring and cutting!
Supplies for Your Homemade Fireplace Mantel
You’ll need a few supplies before you get started on your mantel. A level, saw, drill, screw gun, wood screws, hammer, chisel, tape measure, and of course the lumber for your mantel. You can find most of these supplies at any hardware store. The lumber you’ll need will depend on the size of your fireplace opening.
If you’re unsure of what lumber to get, ask an employee at the hardware store. They should be able to help you based on the measurements of your fireplace opening. Just tell them the dimensions and how deep you want your mantel to be. With those two measurements they can determine how much lumber you’ll need and what kind would be best suited for your project. 
Now that you have all your supplies, it’s time to get started!
How to Build a Fireplace Mantel in 5 Steps
Step 1. Measure Your Space
The first step is to measure your fireplace. You’ll need to know the width, depth, and height of your fireplace opening in order to build a mantel that fits properly.
Once you have those measurements, you can start planning the design of your mantel. Will it be simple or ornate? What kind of materials do you want to use?
Keep in mind that the mantel should complement the overall style of your home. If you have a modern home, a sleek and minimalist mantel would be a good choice. If your home is more traditional, you might opt for a mantel with more intricate details. 
Step 2. Cut the Pieces
Now that you have all of your materials, it’s time to start cutting the pieces for your mantel. You will need to cut:
- Two side pieces at the desired length
- One shelf piece at the desired length
- Four decorative feet
- One back piece (if not using a pre-made one)
If you are using a saw, be sure to measure and mark your cuts before starting. If you are unsure of how to do this, there are many helpful tutorials online. Once all of your pieces are cut, it’s time to move on to Step Three. 
Step 3. Assemble the Mantel
Now that you have your wood cut to size, it’s time to assemble the mantel. If you are using MDF, you will want to use construction adhesive and brad nails to attach the pieces together. If you are using real wood, you will want to use dowels or screws and glue for a more durable hold.
Again, start with the two side pieces and then attach the top piece. Once all three pieces are attached, you can add any trim or details that you want. Keep in mind that if you are planning on painting your mantel, it is much easier to do so before adding any trim.
Step 4. Cut and Add the Trim
Now that the mantel is built, it’s time to add the trim. The first step is to cut the trim pieces to size using a miter saw. Next, use a nail gun to attach the trim pieces to the mantel. Be sure to start at the bottom and work your way up.
Finally, fill any gaps with caulk and let it dry. Once it’s dry, you can paint or stain the mantel as desired. 
Step 5. Attach the Shelf
Now that you have your mantel piece cut to size, it’s time to attach the shelf. The easiest way to do this is with L-brackets. If you’re using a pre-made shelf, simply screw the brackets into place. If you’re making your own shelf, use a drill to create pilot holes for the screws. Then, use a screwdriver or power drill to attach the brackets securely.
Once your brackets are in place, set the shelf on top of them and make sure it’s level. Then, use screws or nails to secure the shelf to the brackets. If you’re using nails, be sure to pre-drill pilot holes first so you don’t split the wood. Finally, caulk the seams where the shelf meets the mantel piece to create a seamless look. 
DIY Fireplace Mantel Plans
Rustic and Weathered Wood Beam Mantel
This is a beautiful and easy to follow tutorial that will show you how to create a rustic weathered wood beam mantel.
You will need the following supplies:
- Wood beams (I used two 12 foot long beams)
- Chalk paint (I used Country Chic Paint in the color Antique White)
- Stain (I used Minwax Weathered Oak)
- Polyurethane (optional)
- Rag or brush for applying stain
Step One: Cut Your Beams to Size
Cut your beams to size. I cut my beams at 12 feet long, but you can adjust this based on the size of your fireplace. If you have a smaller fireplace, you may want to use shorter beams.
Step Two: Apply Chalk Paint
Apply chalk paint to your beams. I used Country Chic Paint in the color Antique White. You can use any color of chalk paint that you like. Allow the paint to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Step Three: Stain Your Beams
Once the chalk paint is dry, it’s time to stain your beams. I used Minwax Weathered Oak stain, but you can use any color of stain that you like. Apply the stain with a rag or brush and allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping off the excess with a clean rag. If you want a more durable finish, you can also apply a coat of polyurethane after the stain has dried. 
And that’s it! You now have a beautiful rustic mantel for your fireplace.
Budget Shiplap Fireplace Surround
If you’re looking for a fireplace surround that won’t break the bank, try this budget-friendly shiplap option. All you need is some plywood, a few boards of shiplap, and some trim. You can find all of these materials at your local hardware store.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can tackle this project in a weekend. Just be sure to take your time and measure twice before making any cuts. With a little elbow grease, you’ll have a beautiful fireplace mantel that looks like it came straight from a magazine! 
Floating Fireplace Mantel
If you want your fireplace mantel to have a “floating” look, you’ll need to install hidden supports. This is a bit more advanced than simply mounting the mantel to the wall, but it’s not too difficult if you’re comfortable with basic carpentry.
First, measure the width of your fireplace opening and add about 12 inches. Cut two boards of this length from lumber that can support the weight of your mantel (typically around 50 pounds). These will be your horizontal supports.
Next, cut two more pieces of lumber to the desired height of your mantel plus about six inches. These will be your vertical supports.
Finally, it’s time to install your mantel. Place it on top of the vertical supports and secure it with screws or nails. You may want to ask a friend for help with this part, as fireplace mantels can be heavy and unwieldy. 
Easy Faux Railroad Tie Mantel
This is a great mantel design for those who want something unique, but don’t want to spend a lot of money.
To make this mantel, you will need:
Eight faux railroad ties (you can find these at your local home improvement store)
- A drill
- Masonry screws
- L brackets
- A level
- A saw (if you need to cut the railroad ties)
- Sandpaper (optional)
First, take your eight faux railroad ties and lay them out on the ground in the shape of a rectangle. Make sure that the ends of the ties are flush with each other. If they’re not, use sandpaper to even them out.
Next, take your masonry screws and drill them into the ends of the railroad ties. Be sure to drill through both the front and back of the ties so that they’re securely attached to each other.
After that, take your L brackets and attach them to the back of the mantel (on the side that will be facing the wall). Make sure that you attach them at an even height so that your mantel is level. 
Now all you have to do is find a stud in your wall and screw the L brackets into it. And that’s it! You’ve now made your very own faux railroad tie mantel.
Fireplace Mantel with Storage
Building a fireplace mantel with storage is a great way to add extra storage to your home. You can use the space to store things like firewood, kindling, or even candles. Plus, it adds a nice touch to your fireplace and makes it look more inviting. Here’s how to build a fireplace mantel with storage:
First, you’ll need to measure the opening of your fireplace and cut two pieces of wood that are the same size. Next, attach the two pieces of wood together using screws or nails. Then, measure the height of your fireplace and cut two more pieces of wood that are the same size. Attach these two pieces of wood to the first two pieces of wood using screws or nails.
Now, you’ll need to cut four more pieces of wood that are the same size. These will be used for the shelves. Attach the shelves to the frame using screws or nails. Make sure that the shelves are level and even with each other.
Finally, you’ll need to sand down the edges of the wood and paint or stain it. Once it’s dry, you can add your firewood, kindling, or candles and enjoy your new fireplace mantel! 
Wood Mantel on a Stone Fireplace
Building a wood mantel on a stone fireplace is not as difficult as it may seem. With the right tools and a little bit of patience, you can easily create a beautiful and functional fireplace mantel. Here are the steps you need to take:
- Start by measuring the width of your fireplace opening. The mantel should be about 12 inches wider than the opening.
- Next, use a saw to cut two pieces of lumber that are the same length as the width of your fireplace opening. These will be the sides of your mantel.
- Now, cut another piece of lumber that is 12 inches longer than the width of your fireplace opening. This will be the front piece of your mantel shelf.
- Use a drill to create pilot holes in the front piece of lumber. Then, use screws to attach the side pieces of lumber to the front piece.
- Now, it’s time to add the trim. Cut pieces of trim that are the same length as the sides of your mantel shelf. Attach them to the shelf using wood glue and finishing nails.
- Finally, sand down any rough edges and paint or stain your mantel shelf. Allow it to dry completely before decorating it with candles, plants, or other objects. 
Old Barn Beam Fireplace Mantel
If you’re looking for a more rustic mantel, an old barn beam is the perfect choice. You can usually find these beams at salvage yards or online retailers. Once you have your beam, simply sand it down and finish it to your liking. Then, mount it to the wall using brackets or L-brackets.
Depending on the size and weight of your beam, you may need to reinforce it with some additional support. You can do this by attaching furring strips to the back of the beam and then screwing them into studs in the wall. 
Tile and Faux Brick Fireplace Mantel
If you’re looking for a more classic mantel, this tile and faux brick option from Bob Vila is the perfect solution. The tutorial provides clear instructions and photos to help guide you through the process. You’ll need some basic tools and materials like wood boards, screws, tile adhesive, grout, and paint. The finished product is a beautiful mantel that will add charm to any fireplace.
Building a fireplace mantel may seem like a daunting task, but with the right instructions it can be easily accomplished. 
Styling Your Faux Mantel
One of the benefits of having a faux fireplace mantel is that you can style it any way you want! Whether you want to keep it simple with some greenery or go all out with garland and stockings, the sky’s the limit.
Here are a few tips on how to style your mantel:
- Start with a clean slate: Before you start styling, make sure your mantel is clean and free of dust. This will help ensure that your decorations look their best.
- Create a focal point: Choose one element that will be the focus of your mantel display. This could be a wreath, mirror, or piece of art. Once you have your focal point, build your other decorations around it.
- Use different heights: Add interest to your mantel by using a variety of heights. Place taller items in the back and shorter items in the front. This will create a sense of depth and make your mantel more visually appealing.
- Add some greenery: Greenery is a great way to add color and life to your mantel. You can use real or faux plants, depending on your preference.
- Include personal touches: Make your mantel feel like home by adding personal touches such as family photos, heirlooms, or keepsakes.
- Keep it simple: Sometimes less is more! If you’re worried about overdoing it, stick to a few key pieces. A simple mantel can be just as beautiful as an elaborate one. 
How thick should a wood fireplace mantel be?
A wood fireplace mantel should be at least six inches thick in order to support the weight of the bricks and mortar above it. However, if you are planning on adding a lot of decorations to your mantel, you may want to make it even thicker. The most important thing is that the mantel is strong enough to support whatever you put on it.
What is the standard mantel height?
The standard mantel height is 54 inches from the floor to the mantel shelf. However, your mantel shelf can be whatever height you desire. If you have a high ceiling, you may want to consider a taller mantel shelf. Conversely, if you have a low ceiling, you may want to go with a shorter mantel shelf. It really all comes down to personal preference.
How much overhang should a fireplace mantel have?
This is a common question we get asked and the answer really depends on the look you are going for. If you want a more traditional look, then we recommend having an overhang of around six inches. However, if you are going for a more modern look, then you can reduce the overhang to around four inches or even eliminate it altogether. It really comes down to personal preference!
Should you put the TV over the fireplace?
It’s a common question we get asked, and there is no easy answer. It depends on a few factors such as the size and location of your fireplace, the layout of your room, and personal preference.
If you do decide to put the TV over the fireplace, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure it is safe and looks great. First, you need to make sure the television is properly mounted so that it doesn’t fall off the mantel. Second, you need to be aware of the heat generated by the fireplace. If it’s too hot, it could damage the television. Finally, you need to make sure there is enough clearance between the top of the fireplaces and bottom of the television.
What is code for a fireplace mantel?
If you are planning to build a fireplace mantel, you will need to know the code requirements. The International Residential Code (IRC) has specific guidelines for fireplaces and mantels. These codes are designed to ensure the safety of your home and family.
There are three main sections of the code that pertain to fireplace mantels:
- Section R100701 – General Requirements
- Section R1007 – Clearances
- Section R100703 – Hearths
Will a wood mantel catch fire?
No, a wood mantel will not catch fire. The only time you need to worry about a fire is if you’re using an electric fireplace insert. If you’re using a gas insert, the flames are contained within the unit and pose no risk to your mantel.
That said, it’s always important to use caution when working with any type of fire. Make sure that your fireplace is properly ventilated and that you have a fire extinguisher on hand just in case.
How far from the fireplace should the mantle be?
There is no definitive answer, but most experts recommend that the mantle should be at least 12 inches from the fireplace. This will give you enough space to safely hang stockings and decorate without worrying about the heat from the fire.
Of course, you’ll also want to take into account the size of your mantel. A larger mantel will need to be further from the fire to avoid overheating.
Useful Video: How To Build A Mantel
Building a fireplace mantel is a relatively easy project that can add both beauty and value to your home. With a little planning and the right materials, you can create a stunning focal point for any room.
If you have any questions or tips on how to build a fireplace mantel, please share them in the comments below! Thanks for reading!