DIY, Our House

DIY Fireplace Mantel

April 7, 2017

When we moved into our house, the fireplace was ugly–dingy brick, black grout and a terrible insert.

It didn’t take long before we removed the insert, but it sat with the ugly brick for several months before I finally painted it white with a black high-heat paint for the inside. And that’s how the fireplace has looked for the last few years. Not terrible, but there’s one thing that I had always wanted to add–a wood mantel. Well, this winter my wish finally came true.

Tim picked up some oak boards from Menards to build a box that would slide over the existing brick. I wanted something with clean lines–no distressing or crazy knots. There was some discussion about a couple different ways to build the mantel and decided to build the three outside boards and the end caps. You can only really see the end caps if you’re standing on the side purposely looking at them. The wall the fireplace is on is not completely flat, so that posed another challenge. (Yay old houses) We had to sand down the top piece of wood to fit up against the wall as snug as possible. The original “mantel” also didn’t hang over the brick evenly on both sides, so when fitting the new one there were extra measurements. Before the stain was applied, a couple of the edges were sanded and curved so there were no sharp corners.

The color of the mantel was a bit of a discussion. Do we match our natural oak floors? Maybe just paint it white? Go dark? It was ultimately decided to go for a darker color, so we selected an espresso stain and put two coats of it on before the poly. I’m so happy with the color and how the grain shows through!

When it came time to attaching the mantel to the fireplace, we used wood glue to adhere it to the brick and clamps to keep it from shifting while the glue settled and dried.

It’s amazing what a couple small changes can do to a space. I love it and feel like this is how the fireplace should have always looked. It even called for a new mirror.


I love the way the new mirror looks, but am now lost as to how to decorate the mantel. Leave it simple? Add some height on either side of the mirror? There are a few other updates that I’ve done to our living room (couch, rug, art), which I plan on sharing soon!

—m.

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