Return to Projects Listing
Mantel Makeover
Mantel Makeover
  • Mantel Makeover
  • Mantel Makeover

Mantel Makeover

We took our circa 1993 builders grade fireplace and replaced it with a custom built new mantel using the existing framework. It is an easy way to upgrade the look of your fireplace without all the extra expense, a great way to bring new life into your living room. (In the pictures below you will also notice we replaced the tile, for more details on how to do this you can visit to see this project in full.


Medium c5e555bc 9765 4ea9 a293 589150e39b39

First, you'll need to score the top and sides of the mantel that touch the wall. The goal is simply to cut through the caulk that was used to finish off the mantle. That is helping secure it to the wall.

More than likely, your mantel is only attached with a few nails/screws and a little glue. If there's extra trim on the inside part around the fireplace, remove it first so you can re-use it later, if you wish. Then, since this is the demo stage, simply use a crow bar and pry that bad boy off.

Move from one side to the other, to slowly ease it off. If necessary, score it a little more as you work.

C5e555bc 9765 4ea9 a293 589150e39b39
Medium 05b7d807 0b36 4f22 b6d1 5be237d46a96

Our mantel had trim on it that we didn't love, {Ionic columns circa the early 90’s} so we removed it with a wood chisel and mallet. Then we sanded off all the glue with a belt sander and an orbit sander for a smooth, workable surface.

05b7d807 0b36 4f22 b6d1 5be237d46a96
Medium e1ab60ff 4b60 4a6f 915a b06245904f79

Next we measured to where we wanted to add on to our mantle on both sides. We wanted our mantle to have a depth of 6 1/2 inches and a width of 8 1/2 inches for a nice, chunky look. Our current mantle had a 3 inch depth, and a 4 inch width.

The height of our mantle was 53 inches.

To build the two boxes that would cover the legs, we cut a 1 x 4 x 8 down to 53 inches and cut (4) 7 inch pieces (I used a compound saw).

We also ripped a 1 x 10 x 6 down to 8 1/2 using a table saw and cut it to 53 inches with our miter saw.

We ripped a 1 x 8 x 8 down to 6 1/2 inches and cut it at 53 inches.

I then used some wood glue and our finish nailer and 2-inch nails to build the box overlay.

To build the box, first attach all the 7 inch pieces as cross bars to your 4 inch and 6 1/2 inch piece. Then lay your 8 1/2 inch piece on top and attach it with glue and nails.

Repeat the above process for the other side as well. Once both sides are built, go ahead and attach them to the existing mantle using wood glue and your finish nailer.

E1ab60ff 4b60 4a6f 915a b06245904f79
Medium 80a6a969 ab8b 4c26 94c2 e733e3f5b8ed

Now you'll need to measure your center piece and build it. Again this is the same process as building the sides: A simple box with a couple of cross supports. After you build it, attach it to the existing mantle using wood glue and your finish nailer.

80a6a969 ab8b 4c26 94c2 e733e3f5b8ed
Medium ad5fa200 0104 4a43 bbef efe44f394281

You're ready to attach the mantle back to the wall. For this, first make sure your wall is cleaned and sanded. (As well as your mantel too.) Then, secure the mantle to the wall using at least (4) #10 3 inch wood screws. We put (2) in the bottom inside of our mantle and screwed them into the rat seal or the 2 x 4 sitting behind the wall on the floor. The other two we screwed in on the inside top, because we knew there was a stud there. The key is to make sure you are attaching to a stud, not dry wall.

Ad5fa200 0104 4a43 bbef efe44f394281
Medium 39a1c8b1 503f 438d 8354 b0106f51734e

To really give the mantle that finished clean look, we decided to add some simple trim. We took a few 1 x 2 x 6's and ripped them straight down the middle using a table saw, cut them to length, then simply glued and nailed them to the mantle.

39a1c8b1 503f 438d 8354 b0106f51734e
Medium 27c66584 69e4 4762 b6de 5d0486b07ef2

Next, we simply caulked around the outside of the mantle, and anywhere there was a nail hole. (Make sure to use a paintable caulk.) Once everything was dry, we painted the mantle.

And it really is that simple to upgrade your mantel.

27c66584 69e4 4762 b6de 5d0486b07ef2
The Handmade Home

The Handmade Home

All Projects | Profile

  • share

Project Information

Difficulty: Hard

Materials Used:

  • (2) 1x2x6

  • (1) 1x4x6

  • (2) 1x4x8

  • (2) 1x8x8

  • (2) 1x10x6

  • (1) 1x12x6

  • wood glue

  • 18ga 1in. finish nails

  • utility knife

  • pry bar

  • also by The Handmade Home

    Related Projects

    Recently Viewed Projects

    Forgot your password? Click here.

    Don't have a RYOBI Account? Sign Up Now.