Monday, March 25, 2013

DIY Fireplace Mantle

We needed to update our downstairs fireplace with a wood mantle, so naturally we decided to do it ourselves!

Here's what it looked like when we first moved in, and as you can see, the mantle is just a 6-inch brick ledge. The brick ledge was very bumpy and uneven, and difficult to place items for display.

And here is what it looked like as we started the project:
We sold the wood-burning insert, because
we were told by the chimney sweep that it was installed improperly and was unsafe to use.  We love seeing the logs burning, too!

Supply list for 105-inch mantle:
  • One 1x8"x10' common pine board (cut to fit) top board
  • One 1x6"x10" common pine board (cut to fit) front board
  • Ten 2-inch angled brackets + 40 screws
  • One 8-foot piece of decorative trim molding (cut to fit)
  • Four 2-inch square flower blocks (found by the trim molding)
  • brad nailer and 18-gauge finish nails
  • miter box & miter saw
  • wood putty, wood glue, sandpaper
  • Heavy Duty Liquid Nails & caulking gun
  • primer & paint (I bought two 8-ounce samples)

First, Ed used a masonry chisel and hammer to gently chip off the rough clumps on the bricks (on the top of the ledge) to level them out.

Measure (and measure again!) and cut your wood; then glue and clamp the boards together in an L shape, and install the brackets.  This forms the top shelf (8-inch board) and the front facade (6-inch board).

After about an hour, you should be able to remove the clamps, and "dry fit" the mantle.
Next, we installed some small blocks for braces underneath where the brackets are, since the wood mantle overhangs the brick ledge about 2-inches. (sorry, no pic) The blocks keep the mantle level so it doesn't lean forward.
The mantle wouldn't fit tight against the uneven bricks, so we also nailed on a length of "shoe molding" along the back to give it a more finished look.

Here's the fun part!  Starting at one end, we glued on a 2-inch flower block; we cut three pieces (31-1/2 inches each) of decorative "ivy" trim molding, and applied it in this pattern using glue and nails:
 block-trim board-block-trim board-block-trim board-block.

By using the flower blocks, we were able to purchase only one length of the decorative trim board, plus the blocks add visual interest, by breaking up the length of trim.  If necessary, use caulk to fill any gaps. We had a secure fit, and didn't need any caulking.
At this point, we were finally ready to install the mantle using the Liquid Nails; Hubs applied it to the bricks and then we placed the mantle into place and put four 5-lb weights on top of it for about an hour.
Lastly, it was all up to me to apply a coat of primer and two coats of paint. (My advice to you is prime & paint it first before you install it into place. I learned the hard way...painting next to the wall was a pain.)
I'm thinking about adding a bit of tinted paste wax to bring out the detail of the trim and blocks.

So, what do you think?  I know I'm going to love decorating this pretty mantle for every season!
Our next project is the much-anticipated Kitchen Cabinet Makeover! Go check it out!

What DIY projects have you tackled in the past? Or maybe you are knee-deep in one now? I'd love to hear about it, just leave a comment below or catch up with me on Facebook!


  1. Oh my goodness...I love your mantel! I'm excited to check out your kitchen remodel, too!!! XO, Aimee

    1. Aimee, I finally got around to decorating the mantle, and I'm so happy with how it's turned out. So much more versatile now...easier to change the look for the season and holidays!
      Blessings ~ Juju