Fireplace mantels or mantelpieces are the focus of the surrounding room and should create a personal statement for the homeowner. Historically, wood fireplace mantels define the architectural style of the interior decor, whether it is Traditional, Classic, Renaissance, Italian, French, American, Victorian, and Gothic or Antique fireplace mantels.
History of Fireplace Mantels
Fireplace mantels and surrounds originated in medieval times as a hood that projected over a grate to catch the smoke. In these times, rooms were heated by the open or centrally located fire and food could also be cooked over this fire. Now in the 20th century, the fireplace serves as an element to enhance the grandeur of an interior space rather than as a heat source. These mantelpieces have evolved over time to now include the decorative framework that surrounds the fireplace. Sometimes fireplace mantels can extend to the ceiling. Now with modern methods of heating, fireplace mantels and surrounds have become smaller but no less important to the design of the room they are in.
Fireplace Mantel Types
Wood fireplace mantels and stone fireplace mantels are the most common, however the choice of materials also includes such rich materials as marble, limestone and granite. In the past only the finest of rare colored and white marbles were used. Today many of those fine materials are no longer available; however many other beautiful materials can be found worldwide. Cast stone fireplace mantels are very common today. They provide the same look and feel as a natural marble mantelpiece for a fraction of the cost. Of course, the real defining element of a great mantel is the design and workmanship.
Many fine wood fireplace mantels include such elements as capitals, moldings, brackets, figures, animals, fruits and vegetation. One might say that a fireplace mantel can be an encyclopedia of sculpture. More than the material, it is the quality of the carving that defines the quality of the mantel piece thus highlighting the magnificence of the room. A fire and ice fireplace highlighted by a traditional wood mantel would be a beautiful accent to any room.
DIY Fireplace Surrounds and Fireplace Mantels
With all of this said, there are many fireplace mantels available on the internet as well as at local suppliers and home improvement centers which contain these elements and can be installed by the “do-it-yourselfer”. Some of the installation methods are: Slide on Over Rebar Method, Anchored in Masonry Method, Backer Board Method and Stud Supported Corbel
Method. For real wood fireplace mantels, you should use the guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and any guidelines from your locality. Be sure to comply with your local laws and the manufactures recommendations. Gas fireplaces may have different requirements. Be aware of the weight of the mantel to assure it is properly and safely mounted.
Many local home improvement stores carry DIY fireplace surrounds which are easy to install by the “do it yourself” homeowner. The following materials will be required in most cases; paint, 2 and 4 inch paintbrushes, paint primer, sandpaper, fireplace doors, circular or table saw, miter saw, wood screws, finishing nails, fluted wood molding, crown molding, base cap molding, joint molding, screw gun, hammer or nail gun and wood glue.
Follow the instructions carefully that come with your pre-assembled fireplace mantel to complete the job. Now sit back and enjoy a fire in your fireplace with the knowledge of the increased value and visual pleasure that fireplace mantels bring.
Tip of the Day:
Be sure to coordinate your new mantel with the general look of your room. For instance, casual window treatments for sliding glass doors in a canvas panel style probably won’t look so great with ornate wood fireplace mantels. Also, remember to protect all of the wood in your home by installing UV blocking window tinting on all of your windows.