Build a Fireplace Mantel 

Whether you’re building a fireplace mantel for the first time or you’re replacing your old one, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure you get the most out of your DIY project. You’ll need some basic tools and materials, but it can be done in about a day. In addition, you can choose from a wide variety of finishes and options. You can paint it, stain it, or even finish it with brick, shiplap, or rock. 

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When choosing lumber for your mantel, you’ll want to consider how much clearance you have around the firebox. If you plan to have decorative objects or artwork on the top, you’ll need to leave about six inches of space. You can work with a variety of different woods, including cedar, hickory, walnut, or pine. In order to make sure your wood will stand up to high temperatures, you’ll need to use heat-resistant paint. 

After your base is finished, you’ll need to add some trim pieces. For a streamlined look, you’ll want to miter the edges. You can do this by using a table saw. For the front piece of your mantel, you’ll need to cut four angles. These should be at a 45-degree angle. You’ll also need to make sure that the top of the front piece is flush with the baseboard. You can either use a hammer and nails to attach the wood, or you can use a nailer. If you do decide to use a nailer, you’ll need to rent a nailer, which is about $30 a day. 

You can also cut your mantel in two pieces if you prefer. This will allow you to create a hinged front panel that flips down to show the storage area below. You can also add crown molding to the top of the mantel. This will also help keep the front panel from shifting, which can occur if you aren’t careful. 

Once you’ve made the bottom edge of your mantel, you can add the sides. For each side of the mantel, you’ll need to add one flat edge and one mitered edge. Depending on the size of your fireplace, you’ll need a few boards. In some cases, you’ll want to cut two boards that are both wide and long. Once the boards are cut to size, you’ll need to add some wood glue and finishing nails. This will help the board fit snugly into the openings. 

Once you’ve finished your trim, you’ll need to paint the mantel. If you’re painting it, you’ll need to cover the whole area with painter’s tape. Afterward, you’ll need to let it dry for at least 24 hours. 

You’ll want to make sure you’re following the national codes and local rules when building your fireplace. The government requires that flammable structures be no more than six inches away from the firebox. You should also account for the thickness of your mantel shelf. If you’re not sure how deep your shelf is, try sketching a design on a cardboard template.