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.
Why We Decided to Create Our Own Faux Mantel
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.
Reasons to Build a DIY 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:
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.
The Wood We Used
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 3: Wrap the Base of the Column Legs
Wrap the column bases with leftover pieces of 1″x 8″ pine.
Step 4: Attach the Mantel Shelf
After cutting to size, wrap the face of the mantel shelf with 2″ baseboard molding.
Attach the top shelf to the columns, using wood screws.
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.
Step 6: Add Decorative Molding
Install decorative molding above the column wrap at the base.
Attach the hardwood fluted door casing moldings on the columns themselves.
Step 7: Install Applique
Drill a small hole in the center of the applique.
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.
Step 8: Finishing the Fireplace Mantel Surround
Caulk the joints, and fill the nail holes with wood putty.
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.
Step 10: Installing a Faux Fireplace Mantle and Surround
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.
Double-check that the mantel is secure and level. Make any necessary adjustments.
Painting a Faux Fireplace Mantle
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.
Styling Your Faux Fireplace Surround
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.
Choose a Theme or Color Scheme
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.
Create a Focal Point
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.
Layering and Depth
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.
Most Common Questions About DIY Faux Fireplace Mantel and Surrounds
How Do You Attach a Faux Mantel to the Wall?
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.
What Can Be Used as a Mantel?
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:
Are Fake Fireplaces Worth It?
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.
Final Thoughts on Building a 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,
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