Installing A Wood Mantel On A Stone Wall

In our new place, the living room has an existing fireplace with a really large, river rock stone wall that runs from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. We are very excited to finally have a house with a fireplace, we’ve always wanted one, but never had one (which is why we built this faux mantel before).  One problem though…  it was missing a nice wood mantel.  We have to have a mantel to decorate for the holidays right?  I am a blogger after all… and come on, where else would we hang our socks for Santa?

We wanted to have something that was rustic but simple.  Because of the stone, our house lends itself toward a farmhouse/country style so the rustic wood also fits in there!   When we started ripping out this wall, it meant we needed a new place for our TV.   So, we immediately made designs for our new mantel.

This project however was a whole new beast that we have never faced before, a stone wall…. (or if you have a brick fireplace it is the same deal)  We couldn’t just tape the mantel on, so we had to do some research to figure out what to do.   Once we figured it all out we wanted to share what we learned with you about installing a wood mantel on a stone wall.  This was a little tricky and it required a new tool (a hammer drill) that we really need to add to our tool box.

DIY rustic wood mantel

Installing A Wood Mantel On A Stone Wall

Wood Mantel On A Stone Wall Supplies:

  • (1) 2 x 6 x 8’ pine board (for the ledger)
  • (2) 1 x 10 x 8’ pine boards (top and bottom of mantel)
  • (1) 1 x 6 x 6’ pine board (middle supports)
  • gray stain
  • (36) 1 1/2” wood screws
  • (12) 1 1/2” pocket screws
  • (2) 1/2” wedge anchor bolts
  • (3) 1/2” drop anchor bolts
  • (7) weathered fence wood slats
  • (1) 5/8” x 12” long concrete drill bit
  • wood glue (for thin strips of weathered wood)

Wood Mantel On A Stone Wall Cost breakdown of the project $100

  • wood = $30
  • stain = $10
  • pocket and wood screws = $10
  • anchor bolts = $50
  • weathered wood = free

Wood Mantel On A Stone Wall Tools we used:

  • circular saw
  • drill
  • hammer drill (for drilling through concrete)
  • Kreg Jig
  • ratchet wrench
  • nail gun

Here is a before picture during our move into our new place.  Sorry about the mess, heck this actually looks pretty darn good compared to what it was some of the time!

Installing a wood mantel on a stone or brick fireplace wall before

We decided to do an eight foot long wood mantel, that would float above the fireplace.

Here I am posing for the mockup.  We are trying to get an idea of how it might look (so we take a picture or two) and how high above the fireplace we wanted it.  It was not easy posing for this picture.  Hold a heavy eight foot board level from one end isn’t fun.  I tried my best though, with all my manly strength.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone or brick fireplace wall before

Here we wanted to see how a layer of old weathered fence wood would look over the pine structure.  We were excited to see that it really tied in all to colors of the stone wall.  (sorry about the bright lamp, with that wall still in place, there NO natural light at all in the space)

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (5)

After we found the right height, we leveled a string from wall to wall, to use as a guide where the top of the mantel would go.  We also taped where the edge of the mantel would go for reference when we started drilling holes.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (16)

The first thing that we needed to do was, anchor a ledger board on the wall with bolts into the concrete wall. Behind the rock wall is the foundation wall. The ledger board required, holes drilled through 4” of mortar and 2” into the foundation wall. (Do not drill into the fireplace flue!!!)

Once the mantel location was decided upon, we had to map out the holes for the bolts.  We started with only three, but then added two more, for a total of five.  We decided not to drill through the stone, in case we wanted to make any changes in the future.  The mortar can be easily patched, but stone?  Not  so much.

We drilled 5/8” holes in the thickest portion of mortar that we could find within the mantel dimensions.   Keeping it in the thick mortar areas, prevented the mortar from chipping away from the stone and keeping the stone nice and secure.

We had to use a hammer drill to get the holes drilled. This type of drill saved my life.  We tried to use a regular drill but it took about 10 times as long and it was not easy once we hit the foundation wall.  We definitely recommend that you use a hammer drill if you have access to one.  (We borrowed our uncles drill THANK YOU!)

Here is a picture of the level that we used.  This is a level commonly used in laying out fencing.  Also, here is the long 12” long 5/8” masonry drill bit that we had to use to get the hole deep enough.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (12)

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (15)

Below is one type of bolt that we ended up using.  It is called a wedge bolt.  But they are only 7” long, and we also needed bolts that were 10” long.  So, additionally I had to use a drop anchor and a 10” long threaded bolt for those deeper bolt holes.   The drop anchor was a little tricky to use, but once I had a system down, it was pretty slick.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (17)

To add the blots, you need to clean the hole out with a vacuum to remove any loose debris.  Then just tap the drop anchor all the way into the end of the drilled hole.  When pushing in the drop anchor, you need to push it in with a metal rod that is the same diameter as the anchor to avoid engaging the wedging mechanism.  Once the anchor is in place, you use a smaller rod inserted into the thread portion of the anchor to engage the wedging mechanism, til the anchor is snug.  Then you bolt the ledger board in place, with your 10″ bolt that is threaded into the anchor until secure.

As for the wedge bolt, as you tighten the wedge bolt, it creates tension automatically and wedges the bolt snug within the mortar.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (19)

Below is the ledger board with two small anchor bolts in place to get it level.  Once I had it leveled, I drilled the holes for all the other bolts.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (20)

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (23)

Because the holes were so deep I had to come up with a way to clean out the debris.  I used some copper pipe, slightly smaller then the hole, and a funnel to create a vacuum nozzle to push into the hole to clean it out.

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Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (29)

Now that all the holes where drilled and the bolts in place,  I just had to tighten the nuts with a ratchet.

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Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (43)

Here is a close up of one of the bolts, washer and nut, nice and tight.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (22)

The next step was to get the middle supports cut and in place.  The ledger board was not level vertically, because of the unevenness of the stone surface.  That required us to cut the support edges, that where against the wall, at a custom angle on each one.  So, I scribed the angle onto the support when it was level horizontally.  This made sure the the top of the mantel was level, even though the ledger board was not.  Then i just trimmed the board according to the line that was scribed.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (44)  Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (51)

Once the supports were cut to length, I used my Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes for a strong tight fit.

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This is a picture of the finished ledger board ready for the supports.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (58)

Here are the supports in place, 6 1/2” long x 5 1/2” wide.  Two in the middle and one on each end.

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Here is a picture of the installed top pine board,  9 1/2” x 8’ long.  Just drilled through the top to the supports and ledger board.

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Clamps are handy when you need an extra hand.  All I did was screw the boards to the supports.  You can also see here that the mantel sticks out from the wall on the edges, because of the uneven stone surface.  We dodn’t mind how it looks, since you can’t really see it from any other angle in the room.

If you really wanted, you could scribe the stones onto the top board and cut it around the stone, for a nice tight fit.  That would take a lot more effort, but it is definitely doable.

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Here it is all assembled and ready for the weathered wood skin.

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We decided to stain it gray, incase any portion of the pine it showed through the joints of the weathered wood.  The images below show the sequence of the weathered wood installation.

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Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (79) Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (80)

This is how we decided to miter and wrap the corners.  We didn’t have enough wood to cover the top and bottom, but you don’t really see those very much (especially since it is stained to a similar grayish color)  and it makes the top easier to dust without getting slivers!

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall (81)

Well here it is in all it’s glory!  Just wait until we really get to decorate it for the holidays.

The total dimensions are 8’ long x 10” wide x 7” tall.

Installing a wood mantel on a stone wall final image

Now that the mantel is done and we have a cool place for the TV (away from little greasy fingers and keeping eyesight intact), here is a picture of the wall starting to be torn down, and all the randoms from the dresser the TV used to be on now on the mantel and no I didn’t actually arrange anything to look nice, I just didn’t want the munchkins playing with it

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Installing A Wood Mantel On A Stone Wall

What do you think? 

Do you like how it turned out?

Here is a link to our faux mantel that we built in Texas, just in case you didn’t get a chance to see it finished.

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I am the husband of the amazing Cassity of Remodelaholic. I love to problem solve and to design and build things inside and outside the house to make life better. I am a professional Landscape Architect by trade and love the outdoors.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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65 Comments

  1. Wish I had not seen this my fireplace is like yours the whole wall. I really want that mantle . Now talking. The hubby into doing it. I am now down to begging him but I think it’s. Close just so I stop sticking these pics in his face

  2. Love the job you did! We will be attempting this in the living room. My question (and it may be a stupid one) is how do you know where to drill? My luck is we will drill into an area that is the flue or that isn’t cement. Our fireplace is floor to ceiling but actually sticks out from the rest of the wall by about 2 feet. Really nervous to mess something up!

  3. Thanks for this idea! We have a similar situation and are looking for ideas. Our fireplace is wall-to-wall and floor to ceiling made of geodes (there is also a fireplace in the basement, but it is brick and not nearly as difficult to attach a mantel.) It is quite pretty, but is missing a mantel. I’m hoping my handy DIY hubby can take your ideas and perform a similar miracle on our fireplace.

  4. Do you know anyone in the Eugene area to do this same project for me? 6 foot mantel would work for my rock wall. What would it cost to pay a contractor to do it for me?

    1. Hi Ginger — I’m not sure what it would cost. You’ll have to call around and get a quote if you want a contractor to do this for you. Thanks for reading!

  5. Thank you so much I am doing a mantel for a friend and I have over 100 year old wood to do it but I wanted to look like a beam and I had this in my head but I couldn’t get my husband to understand so this helps so much now I can show him I am so excited thank you
    Kendra

  6. Love this and really need a mantle. My fear is the age of my fireplace. If the mortar crumbled I’m afraid it would be a mess I can’t fix. The rock is sandstone so I’m afraid it would crack if I went that direction. Does mortar become unstable over time to make it crumble?

  7. Man I wish there was a video of this.
    I had a handyman tell me about how difficult it would be. And that maybe all the stone would have to come down.