How to build a mantle surround for an electric fireplace insert

Written by meg warren
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How to build a mantle surround for an electric fireplace insert
Adding a mantle to a fireplace insert gives it that finished look (Fireplace image by Mistik from

Having a fireplace in a room not only adds a little elegance but also makes the room more inviting and energy efficient. However, the electric fireplace inserts usually come with just a black box that resembles the firebox of a fireplace. You don't get the mantel, or the tiled surround. Fireplace inserts and a self-built mantle can provide a nice focal point to finish a living room or bedroom retreat.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Putty knife
  • Pry bar
  • Tape measure
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Self-stick tiles
  • Bond enhancer
  • Table saw
  • Pneumatic nail gun
  • Construction adhesive
  • Mitre box
  • 1 inch decorative moulding
  • 1-by-10 inch pine lumber
  • 1-by-6 inch pine lumber
  • Plinth blocks
  • Stock moulding
  • Brad nail gun
  • Spackle compound
  • Sand paper
  • Paint or stain

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  1. 1

    Remove the baseboards where the fireplace will go. Place a putty knife behind the pry bar so that you don't damage the drywall behind.

  2. 2

    Measure the area around the fireplace insert. Determine how large you are wanting your mantle to be. Draw out the plan and the design of the mantle.

  3. 3

    Measure and mark where the tiles will be on the wall. Depending on the tiles you choose to use, you may only want one row of tiles around the insert. Typical designs only call for one row if they are 12 inch tiles.

  4. 4

    Place your tiles on the wall. It is best to use a little bond enhancer to help the tiles stick better to the wall. This will help keep them stuck to the wall longer.

  5. 5

    Measure and cut three pine 1-by-6 boards to the appropriate height needed for the mantel. These boards are known as the pilasters.

  6. 6

    Cut your support boards for these three boards. Depending on the design that you are going with, your support boards should be about 2 to 3 inches tall. This will give the pilasters depth.

  7. 7

    Attach the support boards to the pilasters, with wood glue and a pneumatic nail gun. You should have created a 'U' shape with the boards. This will raise the pilasters away from the wall.

  8. 8

    Apply construction adhesive to the edges of the boards before placing them on the wall. Once put in place use the nail gun to attach them to the wall.

  9. 9

    Measure and cut your top mantle piece on a 1-by-10 inch piece of pine lumber. Mitre the corners of decorative moulding and attach it to the edges of the 1-by-10.

  10. 10

    Apply construction adhesive to the top of the mantle boards that are attached to the wall.

  11. 11

    Flip the 1-by-10 over and place it on top of the pilasters. Nail it down with the nail gun.

  12. 12

    Attach Plinth Blocks at the top and bottom of the pilasters with four nails.

  13. 13

    Attach stock moulding to the front of both pilasters, with a brad nail gun. Create a decorative square out of the moulding.

  14. 14

    Fill any nail holes with interior grade spackle compound. Allow it to dry. Sand over the spackle with a piece of sand paper.

  15. 15

    Paint or stain the wood to match the room's decor.

Tips and warnings

  • The use of a hammer in this project is not advised, because one miss can leave the imprint of the hammer head in the wood. You can rent a nail gun and brad gun at most hardware stores.

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