DIY Network

How to Create a Contemporary Mantel

A mantel can be a great accent to a fireplace, but a worn or out-of-date mantel can often take away from this great home feature.

More in Decorating

  • Time


  • Price Range

    $500 - $1,000

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Place a Center Beam

This project is basically three separate mantels. Starting with the front mantel, lay out a 12- by 78-inch piece of plywood for the bottom. Then take carpenter's glue and squeeze over the front 1-1/2 inches of the board. Spread the glue out using a trowel or putty knife.

Place a 1-1/2- by 78- inch piece for the center beam flush with the front of the bottom mantel piece. Since the edges of all the veneer pieces will be making up the face of your mantels, each piece has to be precisely fitted.

Step 2: Attach More Beams

Nail the beam onto the bottom mantel piece using 1-inch brads. Add a second and a third layer, securing each with brads.

Once the three beams are attached to the front of the bottom mantel piece, attach three more to the opposite edge of the mantel. On this side, inset the beams 1-1/2 inches to leave room to attach the mantel to a ledger (use a 1-1/2 inch wide beams to measure).

Step 3: Place the Top and Side Mantel Pieces

Place the top mantel piece (12 by 78 inches) in place, making it flush with the front pieces. Repeat the above steps to build the two side mantels (12 by 85 inches).

Step 4: Attach the Mantel Pieces

Once all the pieces are built, miter the ends of the front mantel to 45 degrees with the topside being longer than the bottom. The final length of the center mantel should be 75-1/4 inches, long point to long point.

Take the two side mantel pieces and miter one end of each. Then measure 7-3/4 inches and make the same miter cut (so both cuts are the same angle). Make a straight cut at the ends of each of the side mantels so they stretch from wall to wall. The final side mantels should each be 75-1/4 inches long.

To attach the mantel pieces, add a ledger 3/4-inch above the existing mantel. Attach the mantel to the ledger and screw in from underneath with countersink screws.

Step 5: Complete the Project

Attach the vertical sidepieces onto the side of the mantel piece with carpenter's glue. Use painter's tape to hold the pieces in place, and then use 1-inch brads to attach permanently.

Hold the side mantels up and measure where to place the ledgers. Attach ledgers to the wall and then attach side mantels with countersink screws. Attach vertical sidepieces to the side mantels with a bit more glue and brads. Apply stain to bring out the beauty of the veneer facing.