Last Updated on August 7, 2020
Building your own fireplace mantel is a DIY project with a ton of variability. It could be as simple as adding a new beam mantel above a fireplace you mostly like, or as complex as tearing out and replacing the entire surround.
The plans we’ve gathered here run the whole gamut. If you’re tired of looking at your old fireplace, these 17 designs will totally transform your living room — and you won’t have to pay a cent for any of the plans.
One important note before we get to the list: state and federal fire safety codes place some restrictions on what you can build around a fireplace. The U.S. government forbids flammable structures within six inches of the firebox in any direction, and an extra inch for every 1/8-inch of material protruding from the mantel. Make sure you account for this when measuring for your fireplace project.
This plan from TV institution and home improvement brand This Old House teaches you how to build a classic mantel surround out of stock lumber. It’s a moderately challenging design that requires care and precision but looks great with almost any interior theme. Make sure to measure your mantel to at least a quarter-inch before you start.
Materials: Circular saw, Miter saw, Drill/driver, Brad nailer, Sandpaper
Tools Needed: Plywood, Nailing strips, Plywood cleats, Screws, Nails, Pilasters, Crown molding, Astragal molding, Shoe molding
If you’ve got a completely bare fireplace wall to decorate, check out this combination mantel and surround from Fix This Build That. Carpenter Brad Rodriguez originally designed it for a Ronald McDonald House, and it looks just right for making a room feel comfortable and secure. Classic-looking woods like walnut and pine enhance the feeling.
Materials: Pocket hole jig, Face clamp, Right angle clamp, Table saw or circular saw, Miter saw, Orbital sander, Drill, Brad nailer
Tools Needed: MDF, Pine boards, Pine furring strip, Walnut boards, Pocket hole screws
Want to build a mantel as your next DIY project, but don’t have access to a fireplace? Look no further than this plan for a faux mantel by Rogue Engineer. Once you’ve installed it, put whatever you want in the space where the fire would normally be — for example, designer Jamison Rantz turned it into a creepy witch’s mantel for Halloween.
Materials: Miter saw, Table saw, Circular saw, Brad nailer, Tape measure, Pencil, Paintbrush or roller
Tools Needed: Plywood, Baseboard trim, Shoe molding, Crown molding, Shingle molding, Brad nails, Wood glue, Wood filler, Primer, Paint
Amy of Her Tool Belt came up with this plan for a simple shelf to liven up a blank fireplace wall. It’s a pretty forgiving design that leaves you free to deviate from the supplies list and choose a lumber which matches the rest of your furniture. As always, make sure to measure your space before heading to the store.
Materials: Miter saw, Brad nailer, Sander, Drill, Sandpaper, Brush
Tools Needed: Boards, Casing, Crown molding, Brad nails, Screws, Wood glue, Pre-stain conditioner, Stain, Polyurethane
If you’ve got a stone fireplace in your house that you’ve never liked, Remodelaholic has an idea for what you can do with it. With this plan, you can update any stone fireplace by repainting the stone and brick while adding a new wood mantel. Painting stone is a bit of a taboo in the DIY world, but you might develop a taste for it after this project.
Materials: Rags, Pry bar, Hammer, Brush, Live edge wood, Sandpaper, Caulking gun
Tools Needed: TSP cleaner, Primer, Paint, Polyurethane, Construction adhesive
Ron Hazelton hosts a huge array of home improvement knowledge on his website, and this fireplace makeover is one of our favorites out of all his projects. It’ll show you how to get rid of an ugly fireplace surround and replace it with a striking tiled mantelpiece. The actual project plan is in the video, but there’s also a transcript available directly beneath.
Materials: Tarpaulin, Utility knife, Pry bar, Putty knife, Grinder with brush, Circular saw, Foam brush, Pencil, Drill, Notched trowel, Scoring cutter, Sponges, Hammer
Tools Needed: Stain, Tiles, Mortar, Grout, Polyurethane, Lumber, Construction adhesive, Screws, Nails
This plan from Toolbox Divas is only called a “faux” rustic beam mantel because it’s not really rustic. In all other ways, this is 100 percent real DIY home improvement. Timisha’s instructions will help you make your fireplace look like you salvaged it from an authentic pioneer homestead — even if you buy all the supplies at Home Depot.
Materials: Circular saw or table saw, Brad nailer, Orbital sander, Belt sander, Rotary tool, Drill, Layout tool
Tools Needed: Boards, Corbels, Concrete anchors, Wood glue, Wood filler, Wood dye, Polyurethane
This elegant mantle plan from woodworker Lee Swindel is ideal for adding color and character to your fireplace. It’s a fairly involved project with a lot of precise cutting, and will really reward patience. The design is also easy to scale up or down if it doesn’t exactly fit your fireplace as is.
Materials: Jointer, Table saw, Radial arm saw, Miter saw, Wood planer, Nail gun, Sandpaper, Orbital sander, Brush, Stud finder
Tools Needed: Black walnut planks, Douglas fir planks, Wood glue, Wood dough, Stain, Polyurethane, Finish nails
DIY Network’s mantel replacement provides several awesome home improvement learning opportunities. You’ll get to practice handling your own demolition, marking your house for new additions, and creating a new mantel that’s entirely designed for your own space. This plan has relatively low material and time requirements — after half a day of work, you can be relaxing by the fire by evening.
Materials: Level, Pry bar, Screwdriver/drill, Paintbrush, Tape measure, Pencil, Miter saw, Sandpaper
Tools Needed: Crown molding, Trim, 2×4 board, Brackets, Finish nails, Screws
Here we’ve got another simple DIY wooden beam mantel, this time by Erica van Slyke of Designing Vibes. It’s a fantastic entry point for those of us who might be intimidated by crown molding and nailing strips. In addition to its accessible difficulty, this plan is also great on a budget, and can be finished for around $30.
Materials: Circular saw or miter saw, Trigger clamps, Nail gun, Foam brush
Tools Needed: Common board, Nails, Wood stain
With this design from HGTV’s weekend projects series, you can take a mantel you already like, and make it more striking by extending it up to the ceiling. The plan uses fiberboard for most of the extension and includes an optional decorative wooden medallion — though the extension can be decorated any other way you like.
Materials: Circular saw, Jig saw, Miter saw, Tape measure, Level, Brushes, Screw gun, Nail gun
Tools Needed: Medium-density fiberboard (MDF), Molding, Wooden medallion, Primer, Paint, Wood screws, Wood glue, Nails, Wood filler, Putty
Rocky Hedge Farm is a rustic living blog that’s all about turning an impersonal manufactured house into a home with comfort and character. This faux fireplace is a great touch for any blank wall, requires only basic tools, and can be built entirely out of salvaged lumber.
Materials: Circular or miter saw, Nail gun
Tools Needed: Scrap lumber, Nails
This DIY design by Chatfield Court is a solution for anybody with a TV or monitor that’s too big to fit on their regular mantel. With these plans, you can add a solid beam that looks natural and gives your TV and other devices a place to sit. The author recommends white pine, but you can choose another lumber that fits better with your scheme.
Materials: Saw (if your board isn’t cut to fit), Drill/screwdriver, Brush, Caulking gun
Tools Needed: Cut lumber, Screws, Primer, Paint, Caulk
A Blossoming Life offers an amazing step-by-step walkthrough for how to build a new fireplace mantel. The author is adamant that she’d never used a saw before the day she built her mantel, making this an exceptionally beginner-friendly design — with lots of helpful advice included.
Materials: Nail gun, Drill, Miter saw, Circular saw
Tools Needed: Boards, Nails, Wood glue
Amy of The Idea Room used this design to spruce up a brick fireplace wall in her basement. It’s a complete mantel and surround that majorly improves upon a bare firebox. A word of warning, though: at its current measurements, it doesn’t permit the fireplace to be lit (see the intro to this article), so you’ll want to size it up if you actually have fires.
Materials: Clamps, Tape measure, Staple gun, Nail gun, Caulking gun, Sandpaper, Brush
Tools Needed: MDF boards, Staples, Nails, Caulk, Primer, Paint
Another HGTV design, this is a complete fireplace surround and mantel with a secret ingredient: staircase posts to give it a dash of colonial flair. It’s a plan requiring moderate skill but with major payoffs and looks best in whitewash.
Materials: Screw gun, Brushes, rollers, paint sprayer, Caulk gun, Tape measure, Level, Finish nailer, Compressor, Table saw, Miter saw, Power drill, Hammer,Sandpaper
Tools Needed: Newel posts, MDF, Screws, Paint, Crown molding, Shims, Caulk, Nails
To close out this list, we’ve got a unique spin on the faux-rustic trend, courtesy of Scavenger Chic. With this plan, you can add a mantel that looks exactly like you made it out of an old railroad tie. The fun part of this is that you get to “distress” your faux railroad tie by hitting it with a hammer, screwdriver, or meat tenderizer.
Materials: Drill/screwdriver, Tape measure, Sander, Brush, Rag, Level, Power saw, Stud finder
Tools Needed: Aged boards, Screws, Dowel, Wood glue, Wax, Paint
Featured image credit: Fireplace mantel by JamesDeMers, Pixabay
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!