Fireplace Mantels: Designs and Materials

Fireplace mantels are as varied as the hearths themselves. Many different materials, such as wood, metal or stone can be used, depending on the type of look one wants to achieve. Design of the room and materials used for the hearth may also influence which type of unit is made or purchased. Prefabricated units may come as a single shelf or as a surround, to be mounted over the entire unit. Each type of product has its benefits and it is wise to consider which type will look best, as there are a wide array of choices available. Products can be found in home improvement centers, building supply stores and from specialty manufacturers. Online sources are also available and make browsing for suitable designs much simpler.

A simple fireplace mantel with what appears to be a refaced fireplace.

Wood is the typical material used for a fireplace mantel. Styles can range from very traditional, with intricately carved designs. A variety of finishes allow such pieces to be coordinated with existing woodwork in a room or with the hearth. Traditional or classic styles look good with slate or tile hearths, that are very formal in design. A single shelf type unit with braces on each end is a commonly found style for traditional decor.

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There Are Various Fireplace Mantel Ideas

Many living rooms today include fireplace designs that are very rustic, yet stately and large. Products made of wood make a nice contrast to large stones or hearths made of natural materials. However, a more simplistic design is often more suitable. A single oak beam with a natural finish can look great against a natural stone hearth. Another option is to use a coordinating stone to have the shelf custom built into the hearth, for a flowing, blended appearance. A wood piece covered in slate tile will also look good with other natural materials of the hearth.

Some homes today have a built in hearth that is flush with the wall. Often, the area is covered with a black steel framework, which can be accented with a steel or metal unit above or surrounding the hearth. If a more contemporary look is desired, a model with fewer design elements and a highly polished finish may be the right choice. A prefabricated wood unit might also help add some interest to this simpler style hearth and can be used to give the area a more classic feel.

Brick is a classic material used in many hearths. However, it can be made to look a bit more modern with a simply designed steel mantel. To maintain a traditional look, an intricately designed wood shelf will be more desirable. There are many shades of brick, so the piece that is added should coordinately with the brick color itself. For brick with a more red tone, a wood piece in a dark finish or a darker paint color will look elegant. If a light and dark contrast is desired, a product painted in an antique white may be more suitable. Another choice would be to opt for a fireplace refacing professional, or yourself if you are a DIY type of homeowner, to give your hearth and surround a completely new look.

So many options are available for this piece that you are likely to find many suitable options. While a custom built piece is much easier to add during the building of a new home, a good carpenter or builder can add this piece in an older home as well and can make recommendations about what style might look best. If you budget is limited, a prefabricated piece may be the least costly option. You can still find many selections by browsing through product catalogs.

You can also find that the mantel itself can be set off with your choice of accessories that are needed when tending to a fire.  We’re talking about a handsome or unique set of fireplace tools that could give your mantel a more masculine or refined look, depending on your choice of tools.  Similarly, the screen you have in front of the firebox could give you a variety of looks.  There are any number of fireplace screens with or without doors or matching fireplace grates that could work in most any home decor.  With these ideas in mind, deciding on what fireplace mantel will work best in your space should be a bit more clear.

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