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A Surprisingly Easy DIY Fireplace Mantle

An easy DIY fireplace renovation by HGTV's Courtney Ryall

While there was nothing inherently wrong with the original, builder-grade fireplace installed in my home, it really didn’t say anything about my personal style.  So, I decided to kick it up a notch and create the fireplace mantle of my dreams by myself! This DIY transformation didn’t take too much more than a few pieces of wood and my trusty power tools…

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Materials Needed:

  • 1×10 pine board (or MDF)
  • 1×12 pine board (or MDF)
  • 1×4 pine board (or MDF)
  • 2×4 scraps
  • 4″ pre-primed trim
  • 3″ pre-primed trim
  • Stain blocking primer
  • Paint
  • Caulk
  • Wood filler
  • Spackle
  • 1 1/4″ brad nails
  • 3″ and 1¼” construction screws

Tools Required:

  • Mitre saw
  • Drill/driver
  • Brad nailer
  • Sander
  • Crow bar
  • Handheld multi-tool
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Paint brush
  • Foam roller

STEP 1: DEMOLITION

Builder grade fireplace in need of demolition - DIY Fireplace Facelift by Courtney Ryall

I removed the original mantle by prying it away from the wall with my little crow bar.  It came off super easily in one piece and I was ready to build!

Step 2: THE FACE

Courtney building the face of her DIY fireplace out of wood planks.

I started with building the face of the mantle first.  I used a 1×12 board for the top portion and 1×10 boards for the two legs, making sure that my lengths matched up with the measurements of my existing gas fireplace.  I used pocket hole screws to secure the legs to the top of the mantle.  I found that these joints also needed some reinforcement, so I whipped up a bracket with a piece of scrap wood and some screws.

STEP 3: THE SIDES

Courtney adding boards around the perimeter of the fireplace to make the mantle stick out from the wall and frame the actual fireplace area.

So, the mantle is already starting to take shape, but at this point I needed to frame out the edges so that it would stand out from the wall (nobody wants a pancake mantle!).  I attached 1×4 boards around the perimeter of the back of the mantle face using wood glue and my trusty brad nailer.  I made sure all of my measurements were super accurate and I took my time lining up the boards so that I could get a super smooth end product.

STEP 4:  DETAILS

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Adding trim to the fireplace for a clean, professional finish.

I wanted the mantle to stand out, just a little bit, with some simple detail.  I used some pre-primed trim around the outer and inner edges of the face of the mantle.  I cut the corners at 45 degrees for a more polished end result, and I applied wood glue to the trim before nailing them into place.

STEP 5:  INSTALL

To attach the mantle to my wall, I used 3″ construction screws to attach some 2×4 boards to the studs in the wall.  Then I lifted the mantle onto the wall and nailed it directly to these supports.

STEP 6:  FINISHING

Painting the DIY fireplace mantle a moody, dark green-grey paint called The Hammer by Digby Paints.

My goal was to make this build look like it was all one piece, almost as if it were cast out of plaster.

I started by filling all the nail holes and gaps with wood filler.  I let it dry, and then sanded it smooth.  I did this process two times, making sure every edge and join was super smooth.   For a final touch, I used a couple thin layers of spackle to really smooth out the trim joins, sanding between each layer.

I used a stain blocking primer over the entire mantle and then went in a beautiful dark green-grey paint called The Hammer by Digby Paints.

For styling, I placed two wall sconces (with puck lights for simple installation) above the finished fireplace to add symmetry, and a thrifted picture frame with a simple watercolour to tie in the colours.  Mixing old and new items creates a layered space with personality and texture.

Courtney's DIY fireplace installed and painted a moody green, paired with elegant accents like gold sconces and framed art.

The end result created quite a dramatic transformation in my living room.  This corner used to fade away in the back corner of this room, but has now become a focal point that I will love for years to come.

BEFORE & AFTER:

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The original builder-grade fireplace. The stunning aftermath of Courtney's DIY fireplace facelift.

To watch Courtney’s DIY fireplace facelift project start to finish, check out the video below:



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