How to easily build a simple DIY fireplace mantel made of reclaimed wood that can be made in under an hour and that includes securely attaching it to the wall.
Depending on the wood boards used to build this DIY mantel for a fireplace, you can finish it to be rustic or painted any color to fit into a traditional or modern decorating style.
The easy to make mantel can even be made to go over a window to create a shelf to display collectibles or as a stand-alone decorative shelf in a room.
Pre-Made Fireplace Mantel
This is how the brick fireplace wall in my living room looked when we moved into the house 7 years ago. See the white rectangle in front of the firebox?
That white rectangle was what became the mantel when we built a stone fireplace surround on the brick wall. We repurposed the top crown molding section of a dining room hutch that didn’t fit in the house.
We removed the top from the hutch and it became an instant fireplace mantel that has been in place for the last 5 years.
Fast forward to the spring when I posted about having to remove the stone fireplace. If you missed it, you can read all about it in this post – Removing a Stone Fireplace Surround.
We are now back to a flat brick wall. I painted it white over the summer and glazed painted a decorative screen to add some interest to the brick wall.
Since doing this I have been gathering mantel ideas to find inspiration. I wasn’t in any rush to get the project done, until last week when I started to decorate my house for Christmas. I needed to settle on an idea so I could create a focal point on the wall.
How to Build a Simple DIY Fireplace Mantel
After months of thought about what to do, I found I wanted to keep the wall simple so it blended naturally with the view out the sliding glass doors in the room to the lake and pine trees that frame our property.
I wanted more of rough-hewn look for the fireplace. For anyone wondering, I also considered using the previous white hutch top mantel on the white painted wall, but it looked too small and out of proportion on the wall.
I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time or money on it either. So I ended up using what I had to make what I needed.
What I like most about this simple mantel design is the imperfections in the wood.
I have a similar piece of reclaimed wood across the open concept living/dining space. It is placed above the dining area window.
Now the two add visual balance in the space that I like to see in a room.
Making this rustic mantel took less than an hour to cut the wood boards to size and install on the brick wall.
Using the word “build” doesn’t seem quite right as creating the mantel didn’t require any major DIY woodworking skills. Its construction, so simple that it went together fast, I didn’t even get a chance to take process photos.
What Type of Wood To Use For a DIY Mantel
A few years ago one of my neighbors was cleaning out his wood shop and asked Ed if he wanted any of the wood. Ed knew I would like the reclaimed wood boards in the pile and brought them home to my delight.
You may remember when I made a long mantel planter using some of the boards a few years ago.
I took the planter apart to use one of the boards to make this simple two wood board fireplace mantel.
Reclaimed wood is nice to use if you like a rustic or farmhouse look. If it is not your style, the great thing about how to build this simple DIY mantel is that you can use any type of lumber or wood boards to fit your decorating style.
For instance, if you paint a pine board white, the style of the mantel goes from rustic to traditional. Use poplar or white oak boards and wood stain and you can create a mantel that would look at home in a mountain lodge or a room with a mid-century modern vibe.
How High Does a Mantel Have to Be Above a Fireplace?
If you are not sure how far above from the firebox to place the mantel – most building codes require the bottom of a mantel to be at least 10 inches up from the top of the firebox opening. But you should check your local fire code to make sure.
Materials & Tools Needed to Build DIY Wood Mantel
Time needed: 1 hour
Build Your Own Simple DIY Fireplace Mantel Tutorial
- Prepare Boards
Take the measurements of your fireplace width to determine what length your mantel should be. Cut the face board to this length and then cut the top shelf board so it is at least 10 inches or more longer in length than the face board.
Sand, stain or paint the boards in the color or finish you desire.
- Find Center of Wall
If mounting wood face board on a brick wall, mark the wall with a pencil or painter’s tape where the center is and the height where you want the bottom of the mantel.
If mounting on drywall, use a stud finder so you can screw the face board into wall studs, or use hollow wall anchors to mount face board securely to a sheet rock wall.
- Attach Face Board
Ask a helper to hold face board (1 – 2 x 8) in place on wall where you want it as you screw one end of the face board into the wall.
Note: Pre-drill holes for the wood screws in the face board and mark on wall with a pencil.
Then using a masonry drill bit, start drilling the screws holes in the brick.
Use a bubble level to level face board and attach opposite side of face board to wall with wood screw through the board and into the brick wall.
Option: If you don’t want to see the screw heads in the wood, countersink the screws and cover with wood putty that matches the color of the wood.
- Attach Top Shelf Board
To create the mantel shelf, lay the top board (1 – 2 x 6) down onto top edge of face board.
Make sure it is centered and then use 10 x 3-1/2″ long screws along the back edge of the top board into the top of the face board.
I used 3 – one screw near each end and one in the center.
- Optional: Add Blocks or Corbels
Depending on your decorating style, you don’t have to leave the mantel plain. You can attach corbels on either end of the front piece. Or consider add a piece of decorative molding to the center.
- Style Your New Mantel
The final step for your mantel is to style it. The depth of the mantel’s shelf will be determined by the wood board dimensions.
The depth of mine is 5-1/2 inches.
Cost of DIY Mantel
The cost of making a do-it-yourself two wood board mantel will be determined by the type of wood boards you use and if you need to buy paint or stain to finish the boards to your desired color.
If you want to save money, you can use white pine boards and paint them. If you want a stained mantel – go for nicer wood – oak or poplar boards that will take a stain nicely. These can cost around $20 a board so figure to create the mantel will be between $25 – $50.
This before and after mantel is not a huge transformation for the fireplace or the room in general, but rather a subtle accent that creates a serene focal point for the wall and something for me to decorate for the seasons.