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Home improvement & diy

How to Build Your Dream Fireplace Mantel as a DIY Project

 (modified Aug 3, 2022)

A beautiful fireplace can be both a conversation starter and the centrepiece of many great family memories. If you have a fireplace in your home but don’t have a great mantel, you can do something about it without calling in the experts.

DIY fireplace mantels are one of the more challenging projects you can take on, but they’re also one of the most rewarding. If you start with good preparation, the task shouldn’t be overwhelming, even if it’s one of the first major DIY projects you tackle. Everyone has to start somewhere - why not start with one of the central focal points of your living area. Here are some excellent fireplace mantel DIY ideas you can use in your own home.

Choosing Materials

You can take all kinds of approaches when you decide to add a fireplace mantel to your home as a DIY project. One of the most popular options is to use reclaimed wood as the base material for your project. It will give your new mantel a classic rustic look, and it’s a great way to use old wood you might already have lying around the home.

If you don’t have any reclaimed wood lying around for your DIY fireplace mantel, there are other sources available. Some include the local classifieds, reclaimed lumber dealers, and dumpsters at local construction companies and home improvement stores. If you prefer to use new materials, your local home improvement store should have what you need.

Pick Your Style- Floating vs A Full Framed Mantle

For innovative fireplace mantel DIY ideas and step-by-step instructions, there are some great resources available. One of the most comprehensive blogs is Vertical Chimney; they list everything you’ll need and walk you through each part of the process.

Before starting, you first have to decide what type of mantel is ideal for your home. Do you want a floating mantle or a full-framed mantle? Creating a full framed mantle from scratch is a little more complicated and requires more skill, but with some preparation, you can easily take it on as a home improvement project.

DIY Decorated Fireplace Mantel Christmas

Supplies You’ll Need for Your Mantle

Once you’ve settled on your DIY fireplace mantel style, you’ll want to make sure you have the supplies you’ll need for the job. This list may be slightly different depending on your choice, but there are some common items. Here’s a list of what you may need depending on the scale and approach of your mantel project:

• Wooden boards

• Wood trim

• Reclaimed wood

• Wood varnish

• Crown molding

• Caulk

• Screws and nails

• Paint

• Brushes

• Shims

• Sandpaper

Keep in mind you may not need all of these materials for every DIY mantel project. Using an old railway tie to create a floating mantle, you won’t need crown molding or wood boards. Each project is unique, and your supply list will differ accordingly.

What type of Wood is used for Mantels?

It’s usually best to use hardwood for a fireplace mantle such as Walnut. This will be more durable and it looks great as well.

Tools You’ll Need for Your DIY Fireplace Mantle

Any job is made easier with the right tools on hand; this rings true when installing a DIY fireplace mantel. Before you begin your home improvement project, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the tools you’ll need at your fingertips. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

• Screw gun

• Power drill

• Hammer

• Table saw or circular saw and bench

• Hammer or power nailer

• Caulk gun (If using crown molding)

• Level

DIY Wooden Fireplace Mantel

Measuring, Cutting and Sizing Your Mantle

Now that you have all of the supplies and tools you need and you’ve settled on one or two fireplace mantle DIY ideas for your project, it’s time to make your final decision. Then you can begin measuring your mantle and then begin sizing and cutting your wood to fit your designated wall space. You’ll want to take your time with this process stage to make sure your measurements are accurate and that your mantle pieces will fit together snugly.

The process is more complicated if your mantle design includes crown molding, so you’ll want to take extra care to measure the angles accurately, or you won’t be pleased with the results. For a complete step-by-step guide, This Old House is a great resource.

How Thick Should a Fireplace Mantel Be?

A fireplace mantle should be at least 6 to 8 inches thick if you plan on using it for placing items with any significant weight on it. If this isn’t a concern anything over 3 inches will work.

Installing the Mantel

With all of your measurements completed and your cuts made, it’s time to install the mantel. It’s a good idea to get your level ready at this point to make sure your mantel is appropriately aligned. A crooked mantle may be an interesting conversation piece, but it’s not what most of us have in mind when we take on a DIY fireplace mantel project.

You don’t want to rely on your eye at this point as some walls can be deceiving - a level will ensure you get it right and that you’ll be happy with the finished project. If you are removing an existing mantle first, you may want to consider renting a dumpster as well if there’s a lot of leftover debris to remove.

Applying the Finishing Touches to Your Mantle

After installing your mantle, you’ll want to add the finishing touches; this might be a coat of paint or a rustic varnish finish depending on the look you want to achieve. It’s a critical step in the process and one you won’t want to rush.

Before you begin, make sure to place a drop sheet down on your flooring to protect it and cover any areas of the wall you want to protect as well. The extra few seconds this will take to set up can be the difference between a DIY mantle that you and your family will love and one you’ll be disappointed in.

How Do You Build a Simple Fireplace Mantel?

Reading through this blog post, you’ve realized that maybe building a mantel is something you’re not right equipped to take on perhaps a floating mantel is more your style. The easiest mantle to install is a floating mantle. With one piece of wood, you can add a great deal of added appeal to your living room or basement family room.

What is a Floating Mantel?

A floating mantle is simply a mantle without a frame holding it. It’s tied directly into your wall without any column-based supporting structure.

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