Far more than just ‘the thing on top of your fireplace’, fireplace mantels have become a centerpiece for decoration in the living room. Over the years they’ve become more shelf-like in design, allowing you to use them as a space to show off your treasured photos, home decor, or anything else you can fit up there (that can be safely stored near a fireplace, of course).

The nice thing about them is that in most cases they’re pretty modular and replaceable. Most modern homes don’t have a built-in mantel which means you can install whatever one you like most over the fireplace – kind of nice that you can make it your own, right?


If you’re thinking about installing or replacing your fireplace mantel, here’s a few things to think about and keep in mind through the process:


Choice of material. Mantels can come in a few different material types, primarily wood, stone, and medium density fiberboard (or MDF). Each of them offers their own advantages – wood is good for a more rustic look, stone is costly but durable, and MDF offers the appearance of vintage wood with a lot more durable and safe construction, not to mention it takes paints and stains more easily so you can customize it to meet your room’s decor better. Aesthetics, cost, and durability are all things to keep in mind when you’re picking a material for your first fireplace mantel.

  • Fireplace opening height: Pretty self explanatory, but make sure to measure the distance from the base to the top of the actual opening.
  • Fireplace opening width: Same as above, but for the width this time! (Generally this will be the most important measurement in selecting a mantel as the width is the biggest deciding factor in what size and style to purchase.)


As mantel sizes can vary depending on a lot of things, knowing how much room you have to work with will be pretty important when deciding on a mantel.

 

Figure out how it will actually be mounted. Due to the sheer amount of different walls and fireplaces out there, most fireplace mantels won’t come with their own mounting hardware. Once you’ve selected your mantel, do some research to see how it can best be hung up. Look into what kind of mounting hardware and/or shelf brackets work best with the material of your wall and the material your chosen mantel comes in and make all the proper measurements and holes (where needed).

 

After this all that should be left to do is get it hung up and decorated – which is really the part you’ve been waiting for, be honest!