Adding a mantel to your fireplace can greatly enhance its look or even add a focal point to your room. It’s always a good idea to purchase a mantel kit that creates the right look for your fireplace. You can use a few simple tools to install a mantel kit without too much difficulty.
Installing a Fireplace Mantel Surround
- Positioning the mantel around your fireplace: You can carefully adjust it to frame your fireplace evenly. Ensure the mantel is extended at an equal distance on both sides of the hearth. You can use the measuring tape and torpedo level to be sure the mantelpiece is perfectly horizontal side to side and front to back.
- Marking the territory: You can use a pencil or a piece of chalk to create an outline around the mantel edges along the top and sides of your fireplace. Pull the mantel away from your fireplace and place it face down on a smooth surface.
- Marking the location of the mounting board: Make another set of lines to serve as the outer edge or cleats. You can measure the cleat by fitting it into the back of the mantel the way it will be on the wall. Measure the length from the bottom edge of the mantel to the top edge of the cleat.
- You can also measure the inside of the mantel from the edge just above where you will position your cleat to the top of the shelf. Then measure the side of the cleat that you will attach to the wall and add the sums together.
- Preparing the mounting boards: You can attach the mounting boards to the wall surrounding the hearth at strategic points to create a framework for the mantel. We recommend that you use a minimum of 3 mounting boards, 1 for each side and 1 for the top. You can even add more cleats.
- Measure the mounting boards against your new markings on the wall and cut the cleats to size by using a saw. Make sure the top cleat is one foot shorter than the shelf.
- Dry-fit the mounting boards. Fit the top cleat and then the two legs. They don’t have to fit perfectly. You can make adjustments to the length of the cleats if need be.
- Locating and marking the wall studs: If you are fixing the mantel to drywall, attach the cleats to 3 studs behind the mantel. Then mark the middle of the stud along the cleat line.
- You can use a stud finder to locate a wall stud. A stud finder can be purchased from any home improvement store.
- Studs are usually spaced 16” apart. Most of them are 1.5” in width.
- You can do the knock test to locate the side of the electrical outlet that will be nailed to the stud. Use the heel of your hand to gently knock the wall on each side of the outlet. You should note that the side without the stud sounds hollow, unlike the side with the stud.
- Attaching the mounting boards to the wall: This can be done by holding the cleat against the wall and aligning the bottom using the second set of drawn lines. Make sure the bottom edges of each cleat lines up along the top of the second line. Using the level will ensure the cleats are completely vertical from top to bottom on the sides and perfectly horizontal from left to right across the top.
- Mounting the fireplace mantel: This can be done by pushing the mantel against the wall while using drawn lines. Make sure the mantel fits around the cleats to hold it in position. You can use the drill to insert screws into the cleats and through the mantel. The screws should be about 16” apart. You should fasten the mantel to the cleats along the 2 legs and along the top shelf. You can as well nail the mantel to the mounting boards.
- Putting on the finishing touches: This can be done by attaching the scribe molding. You will notice a gap between the mantel and the wall. You can use the molding to cover the gaps by using nails to attach the molding. Use wood putty to cover the screw heads and use paint to hide the holes completely.