How to Mount a Fireplace Mantel & Brackets

Updated February 21, 2017

Fireplaces add warmth and beauty to a home. Adding a mantel to a fireplace helps finish the appearance of the fireplace and enables it to fit into the decor Several styles of fireplace mantels are available, ranging from rustic country to sophisticate. However, regardless of the style, the methods of installation are the same.

Sand the mantel's surface with fine sandpaper. Wipe off the sanding dust with a clean, soft cloth. Prime the mantel and paint or stain it if desired, using a paintbrush. Allow the mantel to dry.

Position the shelf of the mantel upside-down on a soft blanket or rug and attach the legs of the mantel to the shelf according to the manufacturer's instructions. Secure all seams tightly.

Turn the mantel over carefully. A helper may be needed to turn the mantel over. Position the mantel against the wall in front of the fireplace firebox. Use a tape measure to ensure the mantel is centred around the fire box opening while a helper holds the mantel in place.

Place a level on the top of the mantel shelf to check that the mantel is sitting level on the floor. If the mantel is not level, place thin shims under the legs until the mantel is standing level against the wall.

Trace the outline of the mantel on the wall with a pencil to use as a reference point while positioning the cleats.

Move the mantel away from the wall and place it facedown on the floor. Use a tape measure to find the width of the shelf on the backside of the mantel. Cut a piece of two-by-four with a circular saw to match the measurement of the mantel shelf. This will be the top cleat.

Position the top cleat where it will be secured to the mantel, but do not secure it yet. Measure from the bottom of the top cleat down the length of the legs of the mantel. Cut two pieces of two-by-four to match this measurement. These pieces will be the vertical cleats behind the mantel legs.

Measure the thickness of the mantel shelf and legsthat will be flush against the wall. Measure this distance from the outline of the mantel on the wall and make a mark. Do this in several places along the outline of the mantel and connect the marks with a level. This line is where the cleat should be attached.

Place the cleat so that the top of it is even with the cleat mark on wall. Use a masonry bit and hammer drill to make four ½-inch pilot holes through the cleats and into the brick of the fireplace. These pilot holes should be evenly spaced along the length of the cleat.

Secure the cleat to the wall with a drill and 2½-inch concrete screws placed through the predrilled pilot holes and into the brick. Attach the leg cleats, using this same method.

Pick the mantel up off the floor with the assistance of a helper and position the mantel over the top of the installed cleats. If the measurements were done correctly, the mantel should easily slide over the top of the cleats.

Secure the mantel to the cleats every 16 inches along the top back edge of the mantel shelf and down the mantel legs, using 2-inch finishing screws and a drill. Insert the screws far enough into the mantel to conceal them.

Attach the trim pieces with finishing nails to the inside of the mantel's opening to hide the space between the mantel and the fireplace brick. Use a countersink to conceal the nails.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer drill
  • Regular drill
  • 3/16-inch masonry bit
  • Tape measure
  • 3-foot level
  • Hammer
  • Circular saw
  • Finishing nails
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Soft cloth
  • Primer and paint or stain
  • Paintbrush
  • 2-by-4 lumber
  • Finishing screws
  • Shims
  • Blanket or rug
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About the Author

Lynn Rademacher started writing in 2001, covering technology, family and finance topics. Her writing has appeared in "Unique Magazine" and the "Ortonville Independent," among other publications. Rademacher holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from South Dakota State University.