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How to Choose a Fireplace Mantel

how to choose a fireplace mantel

In medieval times fireplace mantels were used as a hood that projected over the grate to contain smoke from the fireplace. These days when a homeowner considers how to choose a fireplace mantel they are looked at as architectural pieces of art that are used to add stature and character to hearth areas and make the fireplace the heart of the home.

When choosing a fireplace surround for your home, it shouldn't be treated as a trim or fireplace molding but rather a fine piece of furniture that will provide balance and stability to the entire room.

Before choosing a mantel for your home, there are a few things that you should consider to ensure that the mantel you have selected gives your fireplace the dramatic visual impact that it needs.

Fireplace mantel tips

Use the following tips as guidelines to help you choose the perfect fireplace mantel for your home.

Fireplace mantel clearances

  • The National Fire Code states that all combustible material must be 1 inch away from the firebox opening for every 1/8 inch it protrudes from the surface, with a minimum 6-inch clearance all around. If stricter local codes exist, these take the place of national codes so be sure to check your local codes as well.

Measuring for a fireplace mantel

  • When considering a fireplace surround for your home, you will first need to get the dimensions of your fireplace, the firebox, and perhaps a few other measurements in order to start the process of choosing the perfect mantel surround. The dimensions you will need to acquire to fit your fireplace with a mantel will vary depending on whether or not you have a hearth area surrounding your fireplace and whether or not you have a fireplace facing. It will also depend on whether you are replacing an old fireplace mantel or fitting your fireplace with a new mantel surround.   If you have an odd sized firebox, a stock fireplace mantel may create an unbalanced-looking frame around the firebox opening. In this case, you might have to custom order a fireplace surround in order to achieve a proper fit.

Sizing the room for a fireplace mantel

  • Fireplace mantels will naturally become the focal point of your home once they are installed so it is important to choose one that flows nicely with the interior design of the home without overpowering the room that it's in. For example you wouldn't want to choose a large fireplace surround that is going to overwhelm a smaller fireplace and vice versa. Take a look at the style and collaboration of the surroundings in the room and make sure that the fireplace mantel you choose is going to blend and complement the rest of your decor.

Fireplace mantel construction

  • Our selection of mantels are made from an Asian hardwood call Choi which is a light colored, tight grained wood that is similar in grain character to American White Oak. The most common of the various materials used to make fireplace mantels is wood because it is fairly easy to work with and builders can easily carve and manipulate the wood to create a variety of styles and fireplace mantel shapes.  Keep in mind that wood fireplace mantels require clearances to combustible materials on the top and sides of the fireplace.  We also offer fireplace mantels with medium density fiberboard builds that are primed and ready to be stained or painted upon arrival.

Fireplace mantel budget

  • Wood fireplace mantels tend to be the most affordable and can range in design from simple and traditional to elegant and more dramatic. The price of a wood fireplace mantel will vary depending on size, the type of wood used, the finish of the fireplace surround, and the carving details in the wood.  We carry a large selection of Pearl wood fireplace mantels in a variety of designs and finishes to complement any home's interior.

Fireplace mantels are a great way to dress up a dull fireplace and display portraits, family heirlooms and other timeless possessions that represent tradition and heritage. The stylish selection of wood fireplace mantels at NorthlineExpress.com includes modern, rustic, simple, elegant, and luxurious fireplace mantels in beautiful cherry, oak, fruitwood, and French Country finishes. NorthlineExpress also carries a large selection of unfinished, primed fireplace mantels that are ready to paint or stain with whatever color or finish you wish. See our selection of Fireplace Mantels.