Tuesday, February 28, 2012

DIY Mantle...mini tute

I decided it was probably a good time to finally post a mini tute on my diy mantle.

I cannot begin to tell what a difference my awesome, chunk-a-licious mantle has made in my family room. Immediate coziness I tell ya. Everytime I see it, I am so proud to think that I made it with my own two hands...well with Studly's two hands, technically. We've gotten som many compliments from our friends and family. It's funny to see the look of utter shock and amazement on their faces when we tell them we did it ourselves. And I'll tell you right now, if a couple of nerds like us can do it...so can you.

Before attempting, we got a quote on having someone build one for us. The guy we talked to quoted about $300, and that was just for the supplies. I don't think that included the labor. Still, not too expensive, when you are talking about adding a permanent fixture to your home, but ever the penny pincher, I knew there had to be a way to build it for cheaper.

Then I came across this picture over at The Lettered Cottage and it was love at first sight.

No seriously, I have a picture of this mantle taped up next to one of David Beckham.

I have yet to profess my love to Palmer's, but I will someday, when I work up the guts. I love these two. They are seriously talented and inspiring. I always find tons of ideas and inspiration when I visit their blog. You should seriously check them out.

Imagine my elation when I learned that they had built their mantle for $82 {$82 Fireplace Makeover}. I was beyond excited. Not only was their's way more awesome, it was also way more budget friendly than any of the prefab ones I had researched. After reading through their post a couple of times I was convinced that I {well, Studly} could do it too. It took a little convincing...a little batting of the eyelashes at whatnot, but the old man finally conceded.

Which FINALLY brings me to the reason of this post...a mini tute.

It's hard to do a full tutorial on this subject, simply because there are so many variables {the amount of wall space, the size of the fireplace insert, etc.}, but I'll do my best to make it understandable.

Before we could start building our surround, we had to move our fireplace insert and tile around it. We chose a brown granite tile. This is where a chunk of our budget went. We spent about $60-70 on tile. It is not recommended to build a wood/mdf surround directly up against a fireplace for obvious reasons...fire hazard. So, if you don't already have a buffer around your fireplace, well then, you'll need to make one. Once done, you can move on to the the surround.

The wall where our fireplace insert resided was totally blank, so we had a lot of room to work with.

We decided on builiding a fairly good sized surround...about 7ft wide by about 5ft tall. {Most standard fireplace surrounds are about 60 inches tall.}

We started by constructing the "legs" of the surround. We did this by building a three sided box. We used premade 3 1/2 inch sqare, mdf molding which we cut to {approx. 55 inches}, then used another piece of mdf board which we cut down to {15 inches by 55 inches} for the front. You should now have box that extends out 3 1/2 inches from the wall, and stands 55 inches high.

Next, we moved on to the "skirt" of surround. We constructed this by cutting a piece of mdf down to 50 1/2 inches wide by 15 inches tall {the width of the legs is equal to the height of the skirt, make sense?} I might also point out, that fudging on your measurements is okay. Studly just sorta built and measured as he went along. Sometimes the way it is written on paper, doesn't always translate to the actual building. That's okay. That's what decorative molding and caulk is for. Here's what the surround should look like now.

Then, using more of the 3 1/2 inch mdf moulding, we cut it down and used it to "dress up" the surround. We started with the skirt and them moved to the legs. A "real" carpenter would miter all of these cuts, but Studly is a beaker salesman and I am domestic goddess, so we just used straight cuts...remember our good friend caulk.

Here's the part where our good friend SANDABLE caulk comes in. We filled in all of the joints we didn't want noticed, then sanded our keisters off.

For the actual mantle, I used pine boards, which I used to make a five sided box. The front piece of the mantle measured 83 1/2 inches wide by 7 1/4 inches high {which at the lumber store apparently means 8 inches}. The top and bottom of the mantle measured 83 1/2 inches by 6 inches, and the two sides measured 7 1/4 inches {or 8inches} by 6 inches. I nailed the pieces together using a nail gun. To give the mantle a rustic/reclaimed look, I took a hammer and aul to it. Dragging it around in rocks works well too. I distressed my boards before I assembled them, but you could do it after too. Then, I stained the mantle with a lucious, dark stain. After it was dry, Studs and I mounted it on top of the surround.

After we nailed on the mantle, I realized that the surround still didn't look finished. So, I went and got some 1 1/2 inch mdf moulding, which I put around the bottom of each leg and along the top of the surround to cover a small gap between the mantle and surround.

And finally...voila!

{sorry for the crappy, grainy pic. I couldn't find the cord to my camera, so I had to use a pic from my phone.}

I will admit, the painting, caulking and sanding was the most tedious part of this project. It was actually really fun to see our mantle come together right before our eyes. All in all, we ended spending about $150 to build our new mantle and surround. That also includes the tile. It required a little time and some elbow grease, but it was totally worth it dontcha think?


  1. Wow, you did an amazing job!! Inspiring!

  2. Thanks Erika. BTW, great name. :)

  3. Wonderful! I love it when people make their own things! Great tutorial!

  4. Wow it's really beautiful! I'd be staring at it all day:)

  5. Wow! you two did an awesome job! I can totally convince my hubby to take this project on. I am in awe of your mantle good job and ...tks so much for sharing!


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