How To Install A Mantel On Uneven Stone

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

A stone fireplace is always a welcome addition to any home, but it can be a hassle to work with. This is especially true if you want to install a mantel over it for a stylish (or potentially utilitarian) twist. It might seem like getting a mantel on that uneven stone is impossible, but it’s not.

To install a mantel on your fireplace, you will need to drill lag bolts into the fireplace and secure a wooden board to the fireplace wall. Then, you will need to construct a mantel, making sure that it has the proper supports to keep it in place without stressing the structure.

Installing a mantel on a fireplace just makes sense, especially if you want to modernize your home. But, it can be tricky. This guide will shed some light on the subject.

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How To Install A Mantel On Uneven Stone

If you’re looking for a project for an afternoon or full day, this will keep your hands busy. Let’s start talking about how you can install a wooden mantel on your stone, shall we?

What Will You Need?

There are several ways to make your mantel a quick install. These are going to be the basic necessities you should invest in if you want to get started:

  • Lag bolts
  • A level
  • A stud finder
  • A mantel
  • A tape measure
  • An electric drill
  • Silicone
  • A vent sleeve
  • Chalk

What Do You Need To Do?

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to get things started. Here’s what you will need to do:

  • Determine your mantel installation place. You will need to install your mantel evenly, at least 50 to 60 inches above the floor. Use the level to figure out where the drill will need to go in order to get a level installation. Mark it off with chalk.
  • Put on your safety goggles, and use a drill to drill holes on each end that you marked with chalk. Use a masonry bit when you do this. Also, make sure to drill holes every 10 inches of the mantel’s future length. When drilling, make sure that each hole measures 3 to 4 inches in length.
  • Insert the lead sleeves that are going to hold your lead bolts into the holes. If you’re using anchor bolts, insert them. If you’re choosing to stick with lag bolts, insert those into the sleeves.
  • Measure where you need to drill holes into your mantel, and then drill them out. Grab your mantel and then mark off where corresponding holes should be. Using your drill and a wood-friendly bit, place holes where your corresponding holes should be. It should be drilled all the way through.
  • Fill the lag bolts with silicone caulk. This will help secure your mantel in place.
  • Grab the mantel and push holes into the lag bolts. Do this before the silicone solidifies. Let the mantel dry for at least 24 hours before you start decorating it.

What If You Want To Make Your Own Mantel?

This gets a little trickier, but it’s still doable. Here’s how to make the most of your DIY prowess:

  • Determine the length and location of your mantel. The same rules apply for the location, but the length is up to you. Measure out the line, use a level, and then mark it off with chalk.
  • Put on your safety goggles, and drill holes into your wall. Use a 12-inch long masonry bolt to drill into your fireplace, and make sure that you use 7-inch wedge bolts for this part. If your stone is very uneven, use a 10-inch drop anchor bolt to make it happen. Vacuum the inside of the holes before you place your bolt. Place your holes every 10 inches apart.
  • With anchor bolts, use a smaller rod to tighten it in. With wedge bolts, just a careful twist should be enough to make it tighter.
  • Grab a board and attach the board to the bolts. Secure the wooden board to the bolts, ideally using a washer and nut. Use a wrench to tighten it up.
  • Cut some pieces of wood and secure them as supports for your mantel. The wood should have the same height as the width of your mantel. You can secure them using a hammer and nails, dowels, or through the use of drill pocket holes and screws. You should have one support on each end, plus two supports close to the middle of your mantel. The supports should be at least 7 inches deep.
  • Then, add the top board. This acts as the shelf of your mantel. You can hammer it into the supports or bolt it in.
  • Add a front and bottom, too. You can choose to bolt these in, screw them in, or hammer them in. This is the easiest part of your mantel making.
  • Sand down the corners, and add the stain of your choosing. You want to avoid having it look too weathered, but a little bit of rustic charm is totally cool. We suggest a modern grey finish or a rich mahogany finish.

Can You Hire Someone To Install A Mantel On Uneven Wood?

Of course! A typical handyman or construction crew will be happy to do this. If you choose to do this, expect to pay around $500 for a basic installation. If you choose to go for a premium model or have a particularly difficult fireplace to work with, the cost will be around $1400.

For many people, the high price tag compared to the work that you’d be doing isn’t worth a call to the handyman. It’s up to you to decide whether or not the cost of convenience is going to be high enough to warrant that call. At the very least, that price might be worth it if you could use that time doing something else.

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Related Questions

How deep should a mantel be?

Generally speaking, the minimum depth of a fireplace mantel should be around seven inches. This leaves enough space to put decorative items on top without too much worry about things falling off. If you want to be safe about it, we suggest going for a 10-inch mantel.

Do you need a mantel on a fireplace?

If you have a television up top, then yes. Mantels can help block the heat from a fire, which can help reduce damage to your electronics. Otherwise, you might not need one. Even so, most families love the comfort and look of having a mantel above their fireplace. It just looks extra cozy.

How thick should a mantel be?

A mantel should be around 10 to 12 inches thick if you want it to support any weight. If it’s purely decorative, you can usually get away with around eight inches in thickness.

How much can a mantel hold?

A typical 60-inch mantel can only hold 160 pounds, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. If you are not sure your mantel can hold that much, limit the weight to an even 100 pounds. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

What wood should my mantel be?

You definitely don’t want balsam! The best mantel woods will be extremely dense, so choices like cherry, oak, pine, or mahogany might be good. When in doubt, choose a prefabricated mantel.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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