What Color Should My Fireplace Mantel Be? [3 Design Options]

Fireplace mantels have changed a lot over the years. While they used to be built into a home and made out of brick or metal, now they can be made out of several things and limitlessly customized. Of all the customizable aspects of a fireplace mantel, the aspect that significantly affects the room as a whole is color. So, what color should your fireplace mantel be? We scoured the internet to find out the answer to this question.

The general rule of thumb is for a fireplace mantel to be a neutral color. This ensures the mantel will blend with the room even if the colors are changed. Likewise, it keeps the mantel from standing out too much. If you want to paint your mantel, white and off white colors like ivory are generally a good choice. If you would prefer to make your mantel stand out, paint it a color that contrasts with the walls. 

Let's take a closer look at this and how you can use the color of your fireplace mantel to show your unique style.

Two classic accent chairs and a white colored fireplace mantel, What Color Should My Fireplace Mantel Be? [3 Design Options]

The Primary Options

There are three common approaches to painting a mantle place. Let's take a look at them then examine some other options.

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The primary options for fireplace mantle

Painting Your Mantel in a Neutral Color

Neutral is a common choice because even if you decide to repaint the room, your mantle will still look good. This also lets the mantle pop but not completely stand out from the rest of the room. It also generally looks good with whatever else you decide to decorate the room.

Fireplace with fire burning

If you want a timeless and classic look, a neutral color like ivory may be for you.

Painting Your Manel in a Color Similar To That of the Wall

Living room with a horizontal poster next to flowers in a vase above the fireplace,

Picking a similar color is an excellent option if you want your fireplace to stand out a bit, but not be a focal point. It is a bit of a "happy medium" between the neutral and bold options.

A common idea is to pick something a few shades lighter or darker than your walls. This adds a bit more intrigue to your fireplace while also reasonably blending it in with the room. It can also give a room a monochromatic feel.

Painting The Mantel in a Bold Color

Dark classic interior with burning fireplace

Going bold is the last of the three. Choosing a color that is very different from the walls is a great way to make your fireplace pop as the center place of a room. It is also great if you are going for a trendy style.

If you want your fireplace to pop and stand out, picking a bold or contrasting color may be for you. For example, a white fireplace on a sky blue wall would make the fireplace immediately stand out.

Should I Paint a Fireplace the Same Color as Walls?

If you are going for a bright and almost monochromatic tone to the room, painting a fireplace the same color as the walls may be a good option for you. Painting a fireplace the same color as the walls allow it to blend in with the walls, while still allowing it to be a potential focal point. 

Another perk to this is not having to choose another color.

What is a Good Finish for a Mantel?

Most finishes will hold up to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you are not building very long fires or chemical fires, your mantel will likely not get above that temperature.

Oil-based paints and other finishes will work fine, but the heat from the fireplace may cause them to deteriorate faster. After a few years, depending on the quality of paint, they will begin to lose their color. While that could happen with any paint, oil paints are more prone to it.

The primary thing you want to avoid is the intumescent coating. Intumescent coating is fireproof, which may sound like a good option for a fireplace, but is quite the opposite. When the coating comes in contact with heat, it puffs up and is very difficult to clean. So it is not a good option for fireplaces.

Acrylic finishes are heat resistant and tend to do best on fireplace mantels. They are the top choice when picking a finish for your fireplace.

What Kind of Paint do You Use on a Fireplace Mantel?

Wicker baskets with firewood and white fireplace in cozy living room

A semi-gloss paint with an acrylic finish is ideal for most fireplaces. The semi-gloss makes the mantel easy to clean but not too shiny. If you have any questions about how a specific paint performs with heat, it is best to ask an associate at the store or look for reviews on that exact paint.

Paints can also have an intumescent finish mixed in, so keep an eye out for that when purchasing paint. Like when used as a finish, intumescent paint will be prone to puffing up when coming in contact with heat.

If you are worried about fires and would like fireproof paint, you are not likely to find one that does not have some reaction and is compatible with painting a fireplace. Regardless, make sure to use best practices and to be safe when around the fire.

Check out this article for some fireplace safety tips.

Other Options

While painting your fireplace mantel is a popular option, it is only one option of many. Other popular options include wood, stone, or brick fireplace mantles. Distressed would is especially great if you want to give the room a more rustic or cozy but still classy feel.

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When choosing a mantel color, you do not have to go with the most popular method. There are many different methods and types of mantels available; choose something that will fit the room and your unique style. Need some inspiration? Check out this inspiration post of 27 Living Rooms With A Fireplace And TV.


It is most common to paint your fireplace mantel in a neutral color. However, other popular options are painting your mantel in a similar color to the rest of the room and painting it in a bold color. While neutral colors are considered the rule of thumb, your mantel is an excellent opportunity to show your style, so there is no "one size fits all."

Acrylic semi-gloss paints are best for fireplaces due to their resilience and ease of cleaning. However, all but intumescent coating and paint should be safe for use on a fireplace mantel. When in doubt, sales associates at paint or hardware stores are generally happy to help you.

Further Reading

Are you looking for some more design information or inspiration? Look no further; these excellent articles have you covered!

How To Decorate A Large Wall In The Living Room [12 Actionable Ideas]

22 Charcoal (Dark Gray) Living Room Ideas [Inc. Design Tips]

How Tall Should Pillar Candles Be? [Inc. Suggestions On How To Display Them]

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