Fireplace mantle project… Success!!

Now that Ayden is getting older… and when I say older, I mean almost 1 year old… I really would love to start doing those hobbies that I love again. I have so many crafts that I want to make, furniture that I want to refinish and home improvement projects that I want to see completed. I have all these plans but never enough time. So that of course creates the problem of what should I do while I have such a limited amount of time and therefore only the most important get completed and the rest is pushed to the back burner.

Yes, I am a mom, and that is the most important title I will ever have, but I am still Holley and I do need to make sure I don’t always put myself on the back burner. Everyone needs to be able to set aside time to do something they enjoy, whether it is just for motivation to keep going, or to relax or just be proud of something you have created. Granted, nothing compares to creating a beautiful baby boy. I have always dreamed of owning my own business so I can make my own hours but I think that is still pretty far off. I have, however, started doing some projects again and am so excited.

My biggest and favorite project thus far is my DIY fireplace mantle! Since we have a stone fireplace, it is by no means a flat surface, which made it extremely difficult to figure out how to mount the fireplace without it being uneven and having a gaping hole in between the mantle and fireplace. Believe me, I googled it, Pinterested it (if that’s even a word), etc but then my dad and I put our heads together and got the job done. Since I’m still new to blogging… I didn’t take as many pictures of the process as I should have but here is as much info as I can give you.


The bland, before fireplace…

Step 1: Purchase your materials.

You will need:

-Two 1x6x8 boards, One 1x6x6 board, and one 2x4x8 board (the straighter the better)

-Wood glue

-Wood Veneer

-Wood Stain

-Long and short wood screws

-Nail gun, skill saw, hammer etc

Step 2: Distress your wood.

This part is super easy and the most fun.

-Simply hit the wood with your hammer, screw driver, maybe rock a saw on it, a little box cutter   mark here and there. Make it as rustic as you like. J

Step 3: Put together your mantle

-Cut the 8’ boards down to 6’, wood glue and nail together the boards so that the mantle is                 open on the back. (Make sure to take a good look at each board and pick your favorite for the front)

-Cut the excess from the 8’ boards down to size to fit the ends of the mantle, then glue and nail into place. If there is any gaps in the wood if the boards aren’t completely square to each other, use a clamp to hold it in place while the glue sets.

Step 4: Sanding and Staining

-Once the glue is completely dry, remove clamp and make sure no gaps remain.

-Sand the mantle to ensure no sharp edges and no splinter culprits since you may have little hands touching it.

-Give it a good wipe down with a dry towel to make sure no dust or wood pieces are on the surface.

-Use a clean cloth and a glove (or my jerry rigged Walmart bag glove) to dip into stain and put a nice coat on. Wipe off any excess and allow mantle to dry completely. Do as many coats as you like to get the desired color.

Tip: Make sure you get in all of the grooves and notches from your distressing, sometimes you may need to put more stain so it will run into the holes.


After distressing, sanding & staining

Step 5: Wood Veneer

-Measure height and width of end caps to cut wood veneer to fit. If you are using a laminate type wood veneer, you may be able to use a box cutter depending on thickness.

-If wood veneer already has adhesive then just put in place and press to make secure. If no adhesive, like mine, use wood glue and nail gun to put in place, allow to completely dry. Then sand and stain ends to match rest of mantle.

Tip: I did a coat of stain on wood veneer before attaching to make sure it would stain the same since different wood takes to stain differently.


After adding wood veneer to the ends… Please excuse the mess that I call my garage.

Step 6: Mounting 2×4

-Cut the 2×4 down so that it will fit inside your mantle

-Then cut the extra couple feet into about 5” or 6” blocks that you will screw into the front of the almost 6’ 2×4 board using long wood screws. (These extra pieces will give a little more support to the mantle, especially if you plan to put anything semi heavy on there)

-Hold the 2×4 up to the fireplace at your desired height and level it. Then mark dots on the 2×4 where it is touching the raised stone and you can drill directly into it to attach the board.

-Pre-drill the holes, then line back up on fireplace and secure with 2.5”-3” masonry tapcon screws.

Step 7: Mounting mantle… Finally! (This is the most tedious part)

-Slide mantle over the 2×4 attached to the fireplace, using sharpie or dark marker, draw little by little spots of wood that need to be cut out so mantle can be recessed over stone to get closer to fireplace. (“eyeball it” as we say in the South)

-Use skill saw to cut out areas where stone protrudes. (this doesn’t have to be perfect)

-Repeat previous steps until it’s flat enough to the fireplace that you can deal with.

Tip: Still trying to figure out what to do about the small gap that remains between the fireplace and the mantle where the stone is completely flat. Maybe add shims and some caulk. It’s really just to keep heat from fireplace from reaching the TV. If you don’t have a TV mounted above the fireplace, then you’re good.


With the mantle, it’s already looking better!

Step 8: Decorate till your heart is content!

I have never had a fireplace to decorate before but I know I’m gonna love it because it’s one of those things that is easy to update.  It’s out of reach from babies so nothing can, well nothing should get broken first and foremost.  It’s not like changing frames/pictures on the wall which requires nails, leveling and just a lot more effort if I’m being completely honest.  Also, the fireplace sets the tone for the room in my mind. For fall, I want it to be warm and inviting and colorful. For winter, I want it to be cool and relaxing and Christmasy… you know what I mean. Anyways, I can’t wait to experiment and try new things on the mantle. If anyone else out there has had a successful mantle update or even mantle décor, please put it in the comments! I would love to see!


Decorated, finished product!


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