How to Hang Fireplace Mantels

Written by f.r.r. mallory
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How to Hang Fireplace Mantels
Do-it-yourselfers can install a floating mantel without difficulty. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

A mantel is a ledge built above a fireplace firebox. Mantels often are made of wood, but they also are made of stone, masonry, metal, tile and other materials. The mantel is the horizontal ledge. A mantel surround includes a mantel and two side legs. Modern mantel floating shelves can serve the decor purposes of the traditional mantel without the side legs. These appear to float against the wall because supports aren't visible. Installing a floating mantel is not difficult.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • 2-by-4-inch board
  • Table saw
  • Long wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Flathead screws
  • Wood fill
  • Putty knife
  • 1-inch putty knife

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  1. 1

    Draw a pencil line on the fireplace wall at the height you want to install the mantel. Most communities have regulations requiring that a mantel is a minimum distance from the top of the firebox.

  2. 2

    Move a stud finder along your line and mark the location of each stud. Use a level to ensure your line is level and straight.

  3. 3

    Turn your mantel face down on the floor. You should see a cavity running the length of the mantel. Measure the length of the cavity with a tape measure and subtract 2 inches. Measure the depth of the cavity to ensure it will fit over a 2-by-4-inch cleat with the 4-inch side positioned flat.

  4. 4

    Cut a 2-by-4-inch board to length with a table saw. Position the board centred over the firebox on the line with the 4-inch side flat to the wall. Screw through the 2-by-4-inch cleat, using long wood screws and a screwdriver. Screw two screws 2 inches apart into each stud.

  5. 5

    Position the mantel over the cleat, and centre the mantel on the fireplace. Screw through the top of the mantel into the top of the wood cleat 1 inch away from the wall, using a flathead wood screw. Screw every 12 inches so that the heads of your screws are slightly below the wood surface. Fill the holes with wood fill, using a 1-inch putty knife.

Tips and warnings

  • Scribe the back edge of your mantel first if your fireplace facing is rough. Cut the contour with a jigsaw or other tools so that the mantel fits perfectly.
  • Check with your local codes regarding the correct height or place the mantel at least 24 inches above the firebox.

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