How to Install a Fireplace Mantel

Mantel Installation Tools and Materials

Installing your own mantel can save you money, enhance your home's style and give you bragging rights over your friends. You can build one from scratch or buy a prefabricated kit from any number of fireplace and home improvement stores.

If money is a concern, buying a prefab mantel is probably your best bet. You can buy one at a home center or lumberyard for as little as $300 for a simple poplar frame, or up to $2,000 for oak or mahogany with intricate etching and design [source: This Old House]. That's hundreds less than having one custom-made by a carpenter, which will could run you up to $5,000.

Are you ready to go it on your own? Here's what you'll need:

  • Wood. You'll need 1x12-inch boards to use as backing for attaching the mantel to the studs in the wall. You'll also need 2x4 boards cut into triangles for support [source: DIY Network].
  • Screw gun, screws, screwdrivers, or nails and a nail gun. These are essentials for attaching the mantel to the wall. You might also use a miter saw or drill, and you'll definitely need a level to cut the wood to size and ensure a straight, snug fit.
  • If you're working with stone, you'll also need a mason drill bit, jig saw, angle grinder, mortar and drop cloth.
  • Wood glue
  • Tape measure
  • Paint, stain or varnish. If you're adding color or finishing wood, you'll need paint and varnish along with paintbrushes, rollers, pans, drop cloths and painter's tape.

Depending on whether you're building something from scratch or are installing a prefab mantel, your tools may vary. We've listed some basics here, but don't forget to check with your supplier and read the directions on the kit to make sure you have everything you need before getting started.

In our next section we'll cover the placing the mantel in the wall itself, before moving on the stone walls.