Transform your fireplace into a cozy haven with our step-by-step installation instructions on how to install a wood mantel to your masonry fireplace.
Hello Remodelaholics! I’m Tasha and I blog over at Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body about thrifty DIY projects and home renovations.
You may remember my first contributor post about how to transform an outdated, cultured marble vanity with concrete or my popular post about how we built a wood screen to hide the ugly utility boxes on the side of our house. I am very much a Remodelaholic, so I know I am in good company here 🙂
There are tons of DIY mantel ideas out there, including this easy and simple DIY mantel. You can even build an awesome faux mantel if you don’t have a functional fireplace. We didn’t opt for any of those options because we were dreaming of a solid, live-edge mantel.
We found the perfect solid walnut live-edge mantel on Hayneedle.com. We were nervous about trying to install it, especially after it arrived and we felt how HEAVY it is. But we went for it and were so, so surprised by how easy it was to install ourselves!
So, if you have been wondering how to install a wood mantel, you have come to the right place!
Note that our fireplace is a masonry surface or brick fireplace, covered with cement board and a concrete overlay. If you have a fireplace surround that is constructed with wood beams, you would not want to follow this tutorial (you would use a method involving locating the studs and using them as a lead masonry anchor to your mantel).
How to Install a Wood Mantel on a Masonry Fireplace
by Tasha of Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body
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Materials and Tools Needed:
- Wood mantle (we used this Walnut Mantle)
- Electric drill with depth gauge
- Jig Saw with metal cutting blade
- Large masonry drill bit (3/4″ x 12″ to correspond with the diameter of the steel stakes we used)
- 18 inch round steel stakes
- Fast set anchoring adhesive
- Scrap plywood
- Circular saw
- Hammer Drill
Warning: Fire Safety and Compliance Guidelines
- Combustible Material Clearance: Maintain the minimum distance specified by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) between the wood mantel and any combustible materials.
- Local Laws and Regulations: Familiarize yourself with and adhere to local laws and regulations regarding fireplace installations, and check with relevant authorities to ensure compliance with any specific requirements.
- Fireplace Installation Compliance: Verify that the installation process complies with NFPA standards for fireplace installations.
Mantel Installation Steps:
1) Start by cutting a scrap piece of plywood or pine down to the size of the back of your solid wood mantel. This will be used as a template board for the rest of the project. Remember to estimate the appropriate thickness of the backer board to ensure its good foundation.
2) Drill pilot holes in the template board to correspond with where you want your steel stakes to support your mantel. Be mindful of where your fireplace flue begins–you don’t want to drill into it. That is why our stakes were placed so close to the outer edges of the mantel.
3) Temporarily attach your template board to your fireplace using appropriate masonry screws. Be sure to check for level Screw in one side, place the level on the board, tap into a level position place and secure with a screw on the other side.
4) Drill screw holes in your fireplace, using the holes in your template as your guide. Use the depth gauge on your drill to be sure you drill deeply enough. We wanted our stakes to sit 6″ deep behind the surface into the masonry work, so we set the mantel depth gauge appropriately.
After working on your drilled holes, remove the template mounting board, before moving on to the next step.
5) Squeeze a generous amount of fast set anchoring adhesive into one hole at a time being sure to follow the instructions on the package. Place your steel stake in.
Our holes were a little bit larger than the stakes, so we checked for level and used some scrap wood to support the bottom of the stakes while the adhesive cured.
6) While your adhesive is curing, attach the template to the back of your mantel and drill the two corresponding holes in the wood. The depth of the holes needs to be set to correspond with the length of your stakes
**You may have to trim them down in the next step–we trimmed ours down to 5″ long.
6) Once your construction adhesive has fully cured, trim your steel stakes or rod to whatever length you choose using a Jig Saw and metal cutting blade or an angle grinder. We cut ours down to 5″ long.
7) Slide your fireplace mantel shelf onto the stakes. Make sure that the back of the mantel is supported well. Note: This is a two person job 🙂
That’s it! So, so, so much easier than we expected. Using the template is the key to keeping everything lined up perfectly. It worked like a charm.
If you have small climbers *children* living in the house with you. You could use a small amount of caulk adhesive on the back of the wood mantel board to secure it to the wall, and to keep it from moving off of the steel rods.
I would do this lightly, and just on the outer corners, to hold in place, but even without the adhesive, mostly the weight of the mantle should hold it in place. This is just an added precaution for homes with busy children.
Check out the final result. And yes, if you are wondering, that AWESOME barn door style sliding fireplace screen is another DIY project of ours–you can check out the full tutorial for it by clicking here.
If you love this project, be sure to pin it for later! I would love for you to head over to my blog, Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body, to check out our other DIY home improvement and thrifty home decor projects, like how we made that awesome DIY barn door style, sliding fireplace screen or how we created a painted our kitchen cabinets without sanding or priming (and they are still holding up perfectly 2 years later).
More Great DIY Fireplaces & Mantels:
Hi! I'm Tasha author and creator of Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body, where I blog about thrifty DIY home renovations, simple crafts and tips for a happy household. Join me as my firefighter husband, 3 1/2 year old twin girls and I renovate our outdated home one room at a time. We are living proof that you can create your dream home on a budget even when you lead very busy lives!