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How to Install a Fireplace Mantel

how to install a fireplace mantel

Adding a fireplace mantel to a fireplace instantly pulls hearth decor together, adds balance and stability to the entire room, and provides that finishing touch to create a picture perfect fireplace.

You might think learning how to install a fireplace mantel could be difficult and tedious but it is rather easy and once you find the perfect fireplace mantel, install it, and customize it with family portraits and other dramatic accents your fireplace will become the heart of your home and exude elegance worthy of family heirlooms.

The following tips are suggestions on how to install your fireplace mantel or mantel shelf.  These instructions are for use with a hanger board.  If you are having your fireplace mantel installed professionally, your installer may have additional methods for mounting your fireplace mantel or shelf.


Most Pearl Fireplace Mantels and mantel shelves available in our collection at NorthlineExpress.com include hanger boards for installation. We've also included some tips on how to fabricate a hanger board.

Fireplace mantel installation suggestions

Using a hanger board is a suggested method to install your fireplace mantel as is it quick and easy to do by yourself. The type of hardware you will need to use to mount your hanger board will depend on the surface that you are attaching it to. For example, brick, stone, and drywall surfaces will all require different hardware for mounting your hanger board. When you purchase your mounting hardware, consult a professional to ensure that you get the correct hardware for the surface you will be mounting your hanger board on.

fireplace mantel assemblyStep 1

Assemble your fireplace mantel

Assemble your fireplace mantel by placing the main shelf face down on the floor. Next bolt on each leg with the hardware included with your fireplace mantel.

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Assemble your fireplace mantel shelf

Assemble your fireplace mantel shelf by placing the shelf face down on the floor. Next bolt on each corbel with the hardware included with your fireplace mantel shelf.

Step 2

Dry fit your fireplace mantel

Place your fireplace mantel or fireplace mantel shelf against the wall. Make sure that it is centered over the firebox. Place a 3-foot level across the mantel shelf and check to make sure that it is level. Use a torpedo level to make sure that the mantel is level from front to back. You can tap shims under the mantel legs as necessary until it is level both ways. Lightly trace the fireplace mantel's outline onto the wall in pencil.

Step 3

Measure for your hanger board

  1. hanging a fireplace mantelThe hanger board measurement should be taken from the floor or the hearth (where the mantel legs will sit or the shelf will hang) to the bottom edge of the hanger board. When mounted correctly, the mantel or shelf will simply hang on the hanger board and in the case of the mantel, the legs will touch the floor or the hearth.

  2. While the mantel's shelf is on the floor, put the loose wall hanger board that is in the box onto the hanger board that is mounted on the mantel shelf. Use your hand to hold the 2 pieces together. When together correctly, the 2 hanger boards will form a complete board.

  3. Measure from the bottom of the leg down to the wall hanger board and record this measurement. Measure both the left and right sides to insure that you have a correct measurement.

  4. Mark your recorded measurement on your wall, both left and right. Take the wall hanger board and mount it on the wall so that the bottom of the board is on your recorded marks. Make sure the wall hanger board is centered over the firebox before mounting.

If your fireplace mantel did not come with a hanger board, follow these directions to fabricate one.

If a hanger board was not included with your fireplace mantel you can fabricate one using a 1 x 4, cut at a 45-degree angle. You may also cut a piece of wood that runs the length of the mantel shelf or use 2 blocks of wood that will be placed at either end of the mantel shelf. See above for measuring. Set the mantel on the length of wood or blocks. Use finishing nails on the back side of the mantel legs (underneath the back overhang of the mantel shelf) to fasten the length or blocks.

Scribe moldinghow to hang a fireplace mantel

Once your fireplace mantel is installed, put the molding to the inside of each leg and just below the mantel shelf. Be sure to slide the molding back until it touches your surround. Scribe molding is meant to hide the gap between the leg and the surround on the inside. You can attach scribe molding to your fireplace mantel with glue or small finishing nails.

Plinth bases can be used to add height to your fireplace mantel. Plinth blocks are sold in pairs of two. They are to be placed under each leg of the fireplace mantel to add height, lend extra support to the mantel, and create an effective focal point at the base of the mantel. To determine which plinth pair is right for your mantel, take the "outside leg to outside leg" measurement, subtract the interior opening and divide by 2 to obtain the width of each leg. Then choose your plinth accordingly.


See our selection of fireplace mantels, fireplace mantel shelves, and fireplace mantel accessories.  If you have any questions concerning how to install your fireplace mantel feel free to contact one of our customer service representatives at 866-NORTHLINE (866-667-8454).