Fireplace Mantel Buyer's Guide Are you considering the addition of a fireplace mantel to your home?
Before making this important home addition decision, it's important to know as much as possible about fireplace mantels and what they can bring to your home. These ornamental pieces are a great way to emphasize and often improve the focal point around a fireplace. In this article, we will discuss both the functional and decorative aspects mantels can bring to your home, while also discussing styles, types, and crucial information you should have before beginning your installation. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the purpose and process involved with choosing the perfect fireplace mantel for your home.
Who Will a Mantel Appeal To?
A fireplace mantel can appeal to a wide range of consumers. The timeless, visual, elegance provided by these beautiful additions can bring an improved look and feel to any home. A mantel is also a great way to draw the focus of a room toward the fireplace. This offers a warm invitation to everyone who enters the home.
Beyond their appealing look, fireplace mantels are also quite functional for any home. These pieces offer protection and storage to the areas above the fireplace. This keeps heat from damaging walls or other issues from occurring. Using a mantel to hold precious knick-knacks, family pictures, and other heirlooms is an ingenious way of not only keeping them safe but for displaying them to those who enter your home.
Before You Buy
Consumers will need to know a few crucial pieces of information before making the decision to add a fireplace mantel to their home. These bits of information are important to know before placing any order.
- Clearance Requirements — The first thing a consumer must know is the clearance of their fireplace. This will directly influence the size of the mantel required.
- Width Requirements — The second things a person must know is the width of their fireplace on all sides. This is important in keeping the mantel from disappearing in relation to the fireplace. A mantel must be several inches wider than the fireplace itself, on all sides.
- Room Requirements — Consumers must also take into consideration their individual room requirements. Room size, ceiling height, and other room features are an important part of choosing the right fireplace mantel for a room.
When making the decision to buy a fireplace mantel for your home, you'll soon discover there are several brands to choose from. Below, we will discuss the different brands and what they offer to consumers.
- Pearl Mantels — Pearl Mantel was founded 20 years ago and started with the goal of providing a variety of cabinet grade mantels for customers to choose from. Over the years they have evolved to offering a broad range of mantels. With options ranging from rustic to contemporary, Pearl offers both wood and cast stone mantels that adapt for any application.
- R.L. Trotter — Focusing on quality over quantity, R.L. Trotter is known for constructing quality mantel surrounds, all built in the U.S.A. Their business is consistently growing despite economic downturns and soaring material prices, showing the true quality of their superior products.
- Fireside Furnishings — Fireside Furnishings is a division of HHT who offers customers the look of a high-end mantel without paying the high-end price. Their mind-boggling selection of custom mantel styles coupled with their offer of allowing customers to customize their finish and numerous, granite or marble surround panels. This offers a significant cost savings over a fully custom-built mantel.
- Napoleon — Napoleon offers a wide-range of hearth appliance as well as a series of great looking fireplace mantel kits and surrounds designed to fit many of their models. Offering both flush mount and full cabinet mantels, they have taken the guess work out of choosing a mantel for their fireplaces.
- MantelCraft — As one of the best-known manufacturers of fully customizable mantels, MantelCraft has been in business for more than 30 years. While offering wood, marble, and stone mantel designs, their team offers superior quality at an exceptional value, while providing a vast inventory that encompasses all potential needs.
What Kinds of Mantels Are Out There?
There are several options for those in search of fireplace mantels such as styles and materials. Having information on each of the offered styles and materials will help consumers choose the one best suited for their home.
- Stone mantels are normally custom built to fit the requirements of a consumer's fireplace. There are a few brands that offer pre-made cast stone fireplace mantels. Generally, these mantels are only available in the most common fireplace mantel sizes.
- Full Surround Stone Mantels feature stone legs that reach from the hearth to the mantel, while also featuring a fully stone mantel shelf.
- Stone mantels are usually more neutral and traditional considering their lines and pale stone construction.
- Wood mantels are most commonly found prefabricated. They vary in size from 24 inches up to 72 inches.
- Wood mantels come in a wide variety of finishes. This can range from traditional wood stain to more modern colors or unfinished options. This allows consumers the option of customizing their mantel to match their home's decor.
- This simple design consists of a shelf that hangs on the wall above the fireplace. The consumer can choose it to come with or without decorative legs.
- This style is the easiest to add to a fireplace. All that is needed for installation is the fireplace width and clearance requirements.
Full Surround Mantels
- Full surround mantels offer a more traditional appearance. In most cases, this is the design people see when they think of a fireplace mantel. This style includes a mantel shelf and legs that reach to the fireplace hearth or floor.
- Full surround mantels have more specific installation requirements. The fireplace width, height, and clearance requirements must be known before purchase.
- Corner mantels are designed to go with a corner fireplace.Sharing an appearance with traditional mantels, these additions slot into the corner of a home atop a corner fireplace.
- Like full surround mantels, corner mantels require specific installation requirements. Before purchase it is important to know the width, height, depth, and clearance of your fireplace.
- These mantels include cabinetry built into either side of the fireplace. In some cases, they include bookcases built to either side of the fireplace or above it.
- These mantels have clearance built in. This keeps items such as books, candles, knick-knacks and other keepsakes safe from heat.
Manufacturer Specific Mantels
One of the biggest, issues consumers face when installing a fireplace mantel is mantel projection and why it's important. Mantel projections refers to both the shelf and leg depth for a full mantel surround. Ensuring a fireplace mantel is installed properly is important when keeping your combustible mantel in good shape and your home safe from fire hazards and other implications of improper installation and an oversight in projection.
As you would expect there are no specific clearance guidelines in place for cast stone and other non-combustible mantels. This means they can be built close to fireplace openings. It is important to take into consideration the type of material as some porous stones can crack if overheated. In certain cases, however, manufacturers may require clearances to be observed. In these cases, the same projections requirements must be followed.
Factory Built and Custom Mantels
Certain manufacturers such as Napoleon, Empire, etc. offer their own model specific mantels and cabinets. These are designed for specific use with their own models. Following these guidelines are important. These specifically made cabinets should not be used with other models of fireplaces. Doing so will void the listing and can result in the clearance requirements not being met. When being used with the models they are designed for the mantels will already meet the requirements needed.
Open Masonry Fireplaces
Open masonry fireplaces are not prefabricated and follow their own set of guidelines that are listed below.
- Building code section 2114.3 Masonry-built Fireplaces 4114.3.10 - All combustible mantels and similar trim shall be kept at least 6 inches from the fireplace opening. Parts of the mantel assembly located along the sides of the fireplace opening which project more than 1 1/2 inches (38mm) from the face of the fireplace shall have additional clearance equal to the projection extension beyond 1 1/2 inches. Parts of the mantel assembly located above and projecting more than 1 1/2 inches (38mm) from the fireplace opening shall not be placed less than 12 inches (305mm) from the top of the fireplace opening.
While manufacturers normally follow their own shipping guidelines, most are quite similar. Wooden mantels are often shipped via parcel due to their packaging design. They are packed flat, almost like a DIY bookcase. As the consumer, you will be required to assemble the mantel yourself by following the guidelines that will be included.
When it comes to larger wooden cabinet mantels or cast stone mantels, they will come shipped via freight due to the weight. When receiving your mantel, no matter the type or form of shipping, it is important to inspect them properly to ensure no materials have suffered any forms of damages.
This article is intended to give those interested in purchasing a fireplace mantel all the information required to choose the mantel best suited for their home. No matter which type of mantel you choose, your home will benefit greatly from not only the functionality but also the visual appeal they provide.