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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 thehandmadehome.net to see this project in full.

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  1. Project Steps

    1. Step: 1

      Large 8abaf5a2 692e 4655 adb9 a54839b6c832

      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.

    2. Step: 2

      Large 49e17d7d 86c0 4580 a084 333ae32daa62

      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.

    3. Step: 3

      Large 790eea04 5f19 4fd5 81d9 f58cb984cb9d

      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.

    4. Step: 4

      Large 428a15c4 8b00 4bb5 a769 ec4fabc5925c

      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.

    5. Step: 5

      Large 7f8c99e5 5d33 4d24 9977 d60662e57870

      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.

    6. Step: 6

      Large 681be8ed 78a0 4ce6 b06e 5285f1590286

      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.

    7. Step: 7

      Large 74fac565 8c4b 4357 b078 18701c2b36d7

      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.

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Mantel Makeover

by The Handmade Home
Aug 04, 2014
Medium 152e4c18 9539 4526 9c61 33f256d7ed54

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 thehandmadehome.net to see this project in full.

Project Steps

  1. Step: 1
    Huge 8abaf5a2 692e 4655 adb9 a54839b6c832

    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.

  2. Step: 2
    Huge 49e17d7d 86c0 4580 a084 333ae32daa62

    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.

  3. Step: 3
    Huge 790eea04 5f19 4fd5 81d9 f58cb984cb9d

    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.

  4. Step: 4
    Huge 428a15c4 8b00 4bb5 a769 ec4fabc5925c

    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.

  5. Step: 5
    Huge 7f8c99e5 5d33 4d24 9977 d60662e57870

    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.

  6. Step: 6
    Huge 681be8ed 78a0 4ce6 b06e 5285f1590286

    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.

  7. Step: 7
    Huge 74fac565 8c4b 4357 b078 18701c2b36d7

    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.