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How to Build a Fireplace Mantel

These step-by-step instructions demonstrate how to build a fireplace mantel with decorative accents.

More in Remodeling

wood stains will give mantel a finished look Watch Video
  • Time

    2 hours

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate


Step 1: Attach the Backer Board and Dentil Molding

To build the mantel, start by placing a backer board on the wall. Then attach dentil molding to the bottom of the backer board.

attach dentil molding to bottom of backer

Step 2: Attach the Molding

Set crown molding in front of the dentil molding, and set the shelf on top (Image 1). Use decorative molding to finish the edge of the shelf. For a different look (Image 2), place decorative molding directly above the dentil molding.

Step 3: Attach Prefabricated Accents

If you'd rather not deal with the compound miter cuts necessary for installing crown molding, dress up the backer board with prefabricated brackets or stamped wooden decorations. Another option for beginners is a precut, premitered mantel kit.

use prefabricated or stamped wooden decorations

Step 4: Stain and Finish the Mantel

Don't leave the mantel unfinished. Wood stain makes a big difference.

If you're putting the mantel above a fireplace, consider installing decorative molding around the fireplace to create a "surround" and placing the mantel above it.

create a surround with moldings around fireplace