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Time to Remodel Your Fireplace Mantel

Its the day after Thanksgiving and you are about to hang your stockings on the mantel and then it hits you: "We have had this mantel for every Christmas since 1985 and I want another one."

So, you say to yourself, What next? How do I replace this mantel? Start by looking online at www.MantelCraft.com where you can find mantels from traditional to modern and contemporary styling. This is a great way to research designs, colors, finishes and prices. Don't overwhelm yourself with too many choices. Once you have done your research and have chosen the style for you, it's time to measure for your mantel.

The quickest way to start a remodel is to measure the inside opening width and opening height of your current, existing mantel. This can give you a starting point, but maybe you want the opening to be 4" taller and 8" wider so you can show off some more of that nice granite facing you have. Or maybe part of your remodel will include using new stone facing surround on the wall around the fireplace opening.

So, what to do first? The fireplace (firebox) opening width and opening height, plus the exposed stone facing determine the inside mantel opening dimensions. Measure the opening width and opening height of your fireplace firebox. Next, determine how much facing material you want to show (sometimes referred to as how much stone facing you want to reveal.) As a general rule of thumb for fireplaces designed to burn wood, you want to show at least 6" of stone facing on each side of the fireplace opening width and at least 12" above the fireplace opening height. This rule of thumb will satisfy most building codes (which vary across the country.) For example, let's say your firebox opening width is 36." Adding the 6" facing material reveal on each side will give you a mantel with an inside opening width of 48." Also, let's say your fireplace has on opening height of 30." by adding your 12" facing material reveal above your fireplace you now have a mantle opening height of 42." Remember that MantelCraft mantels are smartly designed so that the inside edges of the mantel opening will overlap your facing material by at least " on the top and sides. Also, MantelCraft offers a quick-ship mantel program that including standard size mantels that are in stock and can ship in 3 days if your mantel opening dimensions work out to those standard sizes.

MantelCraft.com has a measuring guide that should be completed to determine your mantle custom size. Providing all the dimensions requested on the form will help our sales staff insures that your mantel will fit and that it can be easily installed. When you order a custom size mantel from MantelCraft, we will send a mantel line drawing to you, based on the dimensions of your fireplace that you have provided. After receiving this mantel drawing, check that all the mantel dimensions will work for you in the space you have. It is not a bad idea to take this drawing and a measuring tape and place some marks on the wall where the new mantel will fit. A little trick that has been used rather than marks, is applying painters' tape instead of pencil marks. You'll find the tape is easy to move, and it can help you eye-ball how the mantel will look, its size and proportions.

One of the biggest obstacles that some homeowners have when sizing a full fireplace mantel surround is when they find that the wall space above the fireplace is narrow and therefore not wide enough to accommodate the full fireplace mantel shelf. As a general rule of thumb you can think of it this way: you need about double your firebox opening width in wall space above the fireplace for a proportionate Mantel shelf length. For example, if your fireplace opening width is 36," you will need approximately double that or 72" of wall space for a full fireplace mantel shelf. This is normally the minimum wall space needed for a full fireplace mantle shelf. If your fireplace opening is 42," then double that size to 84," and that, generally, is the minimum wall space needed for a mantle shelf. This rule of thumb is just that, and depending upon the mantel style you choose, the leg width and the shelf syling, you may be able to get by with slighlty less than double the firebox opening width.

The second concern you should be aware of is the hearth. A hearth can be flush with the floor or raised above the floor. Most times, you want the mantel legs (the Body Width) to sit on top of the hearth and not extend to the right or left of the hearth. The measuring guide plays an important part in determining the location of the mantel legs. On occasion, the mantel legs may better fit your fireplace if they straddle the hearth (in which instance the mantel legs would rest on the floor beside the hearth.) Be sure to carefully check the dimensioned mantel line drawing that MantelCraft creates before you confirm your custom order, especially if you see that the hearth or the wall space is not right for the mantel you have chosen. Get back in touch with MantelCraft with any questions you may have. We are happy to help resolve these questions and since we have worked with many different situations over the years, we have a solution for just about every application!

MantelCraft wants to work for you so don't be afraid to give us a call (800) 820-7177 or send an email and ask us questions. Use the contact us form on our website, if you like and email us some photographs of your fireplace.

Measuring your fireplace accurately will determine proper mantel fit. So remember the old rule of thumb: measure twice, cut once!