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How To Build a Charming DIY Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround

Updated 1/30/2024

Creating a faux fireplace mantel surround is a great way to add warmth and character to any room. This DIY project can transform an ordinary space into a great focal point, with the charm and coziness of a traditional fireplace.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps to build your own faux fireplace mantel surround, detailing the tools, materials, and techniques needed.

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a beginner looking to tackle a new project, this tutorial will provide you with all the information you need to build a faux fireplace mantel surround that adds a touch of warmth and nostalgia to your living space.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

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fireplace mantel decorating for fall

I’ve always loved the warmth and cozy look of a fireplace and how it transforms a space. Unfortunately, we bought a house that didn’t have a traditional one.

But that wasn’t going to stop me. I wanted to have the look of a real fireplace in our home but the living room was just too small to build a faux option.

There was a blank wall in our master bedroom where a fake fireplace would look perfect. Rather than buying a new mantel, I spent months searching for a chippy vintage but I found nothing in the area. Most options had an extra cost of at least $500 in shipping fees.

And that’s when we decided to build our DIY fireplace and surround.

Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround

There are a variety of reasons why you would want to build a DIY faux fireplace mantel surround. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Aesthetically Pleasing: A faux fireplace mantel adds warmth and character to a room and creates a focal point.
  • Cost-Effective: Compared to installing a real fireplace, a DIY faux mantel is much more affordable. There are none of the high costs associated with the construction, installation, and maintenance of a working fireplace.
  • Space Solution: In homes or apartments where space is limited, a faux fireplace mantel can provide the cozy feel of a fireplace without taking up the physical space required for a real one.
  • Seasonal Decorating: A mantel is a perfect spot for holiday and seasonal decorations whether it’s Christmas stockings, spooky Halloween decor, or decorations for the changing seasons.
  • No Structural Changes Needed: Unlike a real fireplace, a faux mantel doesn’t require any structural alterations to your home.
sketch of the mantel

DIY Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround Plans

Before my husband and I started this project, I found some much-needed inspiration for a perfect fireplace mantel on Pinterest.

By taking certain details from each picture I found, I was able to create my very own beautiful vintage-inspired faux fireplace mantel surround.

This sketch is based on all the characteristics we wanted to incorporate.

The same techniques and procedures to build your faux mantel could be used to build a mantel for a wood-burning or electric fireplace as well.

Fireplace Mantel Tools and Materials

To accommodate the space we had to work with, our faux fireplace mantel surround finished at 4’7″ wide, across the mantel top, and 5′ tall.

My bedroom is incredibly small, so we decreased the dimensions that we would have normally used. Of course, you can adjust these measurements based on the space that is available to you.

We selected real wood instead of particle board for our project. It’s lighter and is more resistant to water damage than particle board.

Pine was the kind of wood we used and is considered a common board in the construction industry. This is the type of wood that is most prevalent and affordable at Home Depot or other home improvement stores.

When purchasing lumber for this project, we chose to purchase long boards and cut them to size. This helped to reduce the wood waste.

Required Tools & Materials

Although power tools will make this project easier to build, they are not required.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

How to Build a Faux Fireplace Mantel and Surround Step-By-Step

To keep the rest of the room clean, we decided to build our fireplace mantel off-site, in our garage, and then attach it to the bedroom wall when it was completed.

Step 1: Assemble Columns

Apply glue to the edge of the 1″x 4″ legs, and lay a 1″x 6″ face board on top of the legs, nailing them down.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

Install braces inside the leg box, as needed, to strengthen the columns. We put an end cap at the top and one at the bottom of the leg column, to close it off.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

Step 2: Attach the Apron Board Between the Columns

Nail a support board to each column, for the apron board. Add a 1″x 2″ across the bottom of the board to close off and add bulk.

fireplace structure

Temporary support was added across the column legs. This maintained the surround’s shape during the building process.

To allow for more exposure of the apron board, drop the board down from the top, 75% of the width of the crown molding. In this case, it was approximately 3″ from the top shelf.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

Step 3: Wrap the Base of the Column Legs

Wrap the column bases with leftover pieces of 1″x 8″ pine.

attaching the mantel shelf

Step 4: Attach the Mantel Shelf

After cutting to size, wrap the face of the mantel shelf with 2″ baseboard molding.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

Attach the top shelf to the columns, using wood screws.

mantel form made
adding crown molding

Step 5: Attach Crown Molding

Install crown molding under the top mantel shelf. It is easier to install the molding when the mantel is turned upside down.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

Step 6: Add Decorative Molding

Install decorative molding above the column wrap at the base.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

Attach the hardwood fluted door casing moldings on the columns themselves.

adding applique

Step 7: Install Applique

Drill a small hole in the center of the applique.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

DIY faux fireplace mantel and surround

Find the center of the apron board. Use a nail, tapping gently, to hold the applique in place. Apply glue, and hold in place with masking tape, until dry. At that time, remove the nail.

caulking the joints

Step 8: Finishing the Fireplace Mantel Surround

Caulk the joints, and fill the nail holes with wood putty.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround

Step 9: Filling the Fireplace Opening

You can choose to leave the firebox opening as it is or follow these optional steps to create a decorative piece to cover the opening.

We were putting this in our bedroom, where our wall color was a shade of blue. I wanted to make the faux fireplace mantel surround look more complete, so we added white shiplap, so the blue walls wouldn’t be seen through the opening.

We attached 1/4″ plywood for a backer board and painted it white. As an alternative to buying a sheet of 1/4″ plywood, you could add strips of 1″x 2″ pine, nailed to the inside of the columns. You would then attach the shiplap to it. This is the same method we used to install the apron board.

making a faux fireplace mantel surround
painting the mantel

After finishing our project, we brought the fireplace surround from the garage to the bedroom.

Locate the Studs

Find your desired location and mark it. If you’re lucky, you will have placed the mantel over one or more wall studs. If not, you will have to use wall anchors to secure your faux mantel to the wall. It’s impractical to relocate the mantel over the top of a stud in my opinion.

Measure and Mark

Decide on the height and position of your mantel. Use a measuring tape and pencil to mark where the mantel will go, ensuring it’s level.

The Mounting Method

The method we used to mount the mantle surround to the wall was very simple.

We drilled four holes, two at the top and two at the bottom, on the mantel legs on the inside portion of the mantel legs on the mantel wall. These holes were at a 45° angle and we used 3-inch long wood screws that are 1/4 inch by 3/4 inch wood screws.

This method gives the faux fireplace mantel surround more security, especially in homes with children or pets.

Final Checks

Double-check that the mantel is secure and level. Make any necessary adjustments.

Safety Tips

  • Use appropriate wall anchors if you cannot mount directly into studs, especially for heavier mantels.
  • If you’re unsure about the process or the safety of your installation, consider consulting a professional.
faux fireplace mantel

I didn’t add a painting step to this post, because there are so many painting techniques you can use. We used white paint and a layered chippy paint method on our fireplace mantel surround.

Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround with home decor for spring

Styling your faux fireplace mantel surround is the best part of the process and is where you can let your creativity shine. Here are some tips and ideas to help you style your fabulous mantel.

Decide on a theme or color palette that complements your room’s decor. This could range from modern minimalism to rustic charm or seasonal themes.

Place a large decor item in the center of the mantel. This could be a mirror, a piece of artwork, or a large clock. The focal point sets the tone for the rest of the styling.

Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround with snapdragons in mercury glass vase and silver vintage candlesticks holders

Use various-sized objects to create depth. Place taller items like vases or candlesticks at the back and smaller items in front. Layering adds visual interest and dimension.

Add natural elements like branches, flowers, or potted plants. These decor items can also be faux options and can easily be swapped out to reflect the current season.

String lights, lanterns, or candles provide a warm, inviting glow.

Include items that have personal meaning, like family photos, heirlooms, or collected keepsakes.

Update your decor throughout the year by embracing the seasons. Add holiday-themed decorations or seasonal colors and textures.

Mix different textures such as metal, wood, glass, and fabric, adding depth and keeping the eye moving across the mantel.

Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround in blue bedroom

Attaching a faux mantel to the wall is a crucial step in ensuring its stability and safety. The exact method can vary depending on the design of your mantel and the type of your walls.

Always consider the weight of the mantel and the strength of the wall when choosing your attachment method.

Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround with lilacs in container

When it comes to choosing a mantel for your faux fireplace, there are numerous options, each offering its own unique style and character. Here are some creative ideas for what can be used as a mantel:

  • Traditional Wood Beam: A classic choice, a solid wood beam provides a rustic and sturdy look.
  • Floating Shelf: A modern and sleek option, floating shelves serve as minimalist mantels.
  • Repurposed Furniture Pieces: Parts of old furniture, like the top of a dresser or a vintage door, can be repurposed into a unique mantel.
  • Architectural Salvage: Items like old window frames, cornices, or architectural brackets can be creatively used as mantels, adding a touch of historical charm to your home.
  • Mantel Kits: There are various pre-made mantel kits available that can be assembled and installed.
  • Metal Mantels: For an industrial or modern vibe, metal mantels or metal-framed mantels can be a great choice.
  • Stone or Concrete Shelf: For a more industrial or modern look, a stone or concrete shelf can serve as a mantel.

Fake fireplaces are worth it if you prioritize aesthetics, safety, and cost-effectiveness over authenticity and heat output.

They are an excellent choice for creating a cozy space without the expense of a real fireplace. However, if the sensory experience and heating capabilities of a real fire are important to you, a fake fireplace might not meet your expectations.

Faux Fireplace Mantel Surround

Building a faux fireplace mantel surround can make a huge impact on any living space. It’s not just about adding a decorative element; it’s about creating a cozy and warm vibe.

The simplicity and cost-effectiveness of this DIY project make it accessible to a wide range of homeowners, including those who rent their homes or are resistant to extensive renovations.

If you follow these DIY steps you will enjoy this mantel for a long time to come.

If you have any questions or additional suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with anyone who may find this DIY idea interesting.

Until next time,

Happy DIYing!

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19 Comments

    1. I would estimate the cost to be about $150 in wood with the most expensive part being the trim and moldings.

  1. Looking to do something similar in my bedroom. I love how yours turned out — totally thought it was an old mantel you redid. Where did you get that metal piece inside the fireplace in front of the shiplap? I love that detail!

  2. Idk if maybe I missed it. But how much was everything? Looking to make something similar. Great work!!

  3. This fireplace mantel is beautiful. I thought you were going to say you found this piece.

    You created a beautiful piece.

    Cindy

  4. This is gorgeous! It looks absolutely perfect in your bedroom. I might have to add this project to my own list of “master bedroom projects.” 😉 I often look at fireplace surrounds when I go to antique stores. I never considered just making one myself! I’m also glad you included a link to the paint method you used. I love it!

    1. I have always wanted to buy one, so much easier. But they can be so expensive. This was actually a lot of fun to make.

  5. Gorgeous DIY faux fireplace mantel surround. Your attention to every detail is what made this project perfect in every way. I love the finish you used on it.
    Have a great week,
    Kippi

  6. What a great idea Kim! So great that you could pay tribute to you lovely home and create such fun ambiance to it at the same time . Love it friend

    1. Thank you so much Chas! It turned out better than I thought it would. so fun to be hopping with you ladies.

  7. Kim, when I first saw the picture I thought you have found a vintage one and repaired it. I cannot believe you were able to achieve this vintage look with new wood! Just amazing! And I love the rose molding as well. But what made this so special is your use of the shiplap and staging it with the metal piece and the basket. What a charming focal point! Thank you so much for sharing and I am happy to hop with you.

    1. That’s the best compliment of all Mary, the fact that you thought it was already made. I was so nervous to see how it was going to turn out, we had no plan to go off of. My husband is seriously such a sport. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I always love hopping with you ladies.

  8. This turned out so adorable I can’t wait to try one. If only I could think of a blank wall. Your drawing of the project is so helpful. Great tutorial. It is fun hopping with you. Your home is so cozy in every photo, I love to get the chance to see it.

    1. You are so sweet Andrea. I’m so glad you like it. I hear exactly what you’re saying about finding a blank wall. This was literally the only wall I had that was open, and it was even a tight space. It’s always fun hopping with you.

  9. Oh, I love this! I’ve been wanting to do something similar in my bedroom. We currently have an electric fireplace, but it doesn’t fit my style. You’ve give me some ideas about how I might create a surround to jazz it up! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    Oh, and your mirror above it! I’ve been looking hard for something similar at thrift and antique stores! It’s beautiful!

    Niky @ The Hosue on Silverado
    PS. I’d love it if you’d share at Sundays on Silverado Link Party, too!

    1. Thank you so much Niky! I’m so glad you like it, and I can’t wait to see what you end up doing. I will definitely go over and share at your link party. Thanks for the invite.

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