Should A Fireplace Mantel Be Wider Than The Fireplace?

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Fireplaces can occupy a large space in a home and inevitably become the focal point of a room. Mantels can make or break a fireplace, so determining dimensions to fit each unique situation can be quite a dilemma. We have sifted through a good deal of information dealing with mantel parameters and have come up with answers on whether or not your mantel should be wider than your fireplace.

Your mantel should be wider than your fireplace. Typically, a mantel should be a minimum of 3 inches past the firebox on each side. However, more can be better. The average mantel is approximately 6 inches wider than the fireplace on either side, and some can be even wider. 

There are many different facets to consider when deciding on the span of a mantelpiece. Read on to find out more about mantel dimensions as well as to find the answers to your other mantel-related questions.

Neutral beige living room with tiled fireplace, Should A Fireplace Mantel Be Wider Than The Fireplace?

Factors To Consider For Mantel Width

As with most details in the home, balance is key. When deliberating on the width of your mantel, you will want to take into consideration several aspects such as:

  • Firebox dimensions
  • Fireplace surround dimensions
  • Hearth size
  • Room size

Firebox Dimensions

The dimensions of the firebox are the primary consideration when gauging the width of your mantel. We want to be sure to cover the actual fireplace. As we noted above, the minimum length that a mantel should extend past the firebox is three inches. A mantelpiece that is less than this can look out of place and awkward. However, don’t let this minimum width hold you back. It is perfectly acceptable for a mantel to extend past the fireplace, six or twelve inches, or even more expansive, depending on the space available. Let’s move onto some other elements that will help to determine mantel width.

Fireplace Surround Dimensions

The fireplace surround is the area of brick, tile, or other fire-proof material that frames the fireplace. Surrounds are not only decorative but also a safety precaution. When considering the width of your mantel, you will want it to be equal to or wider than the fireplace surround. Mantels that are narrower than the surround are generally not aesthetically pleasing. 

Rustic fireplace in log cabin

Hearth Size

Not all fireplaces have a hearth or floor area coordinated with the fireplace. But if you do have a hearth, think about that area regarding your mantel. A general rule of thumb is that your mantel width should not exceed the width of your hearth. So make your mantle shelf equal to or less than the span of your hearth.  It is ok to have a hearth that is significantly wider than the mantel.

Room Size

When considering the size of your mantel, it is essential to note the size and layout of the overall room. Observe the position of windows or doors on either side of the fireplace. How will the mantle size affect the balance of the room? What size mantel is most advantageous to the general presentation of the room? Will a wider mantel protrude too much and be in the way? Most of these will depend on personal preference, but they are questions that should be factored into the equation. 

How You Measure A Mantel?

The question of how to measure a mantel is a noteworthy one, and knowing the how-to can be important. When measuring a mantel shelf, there are three measurements that you will need to take down:

1. Depth

To find the depth, measure the distance from the back of the mantel to the front edge or face of the mantel.

2. Width

The width of the mantel is the distance from one end to the other. Width is usually the largest measurement.

3. Height

Determine the height or thickness of the mantel by measuring from the top edge to the bottom edge of the mantelpiece.

What Is The Standard Mantel Depth?

The standard mantelpiece is 7 to 8 inches deep. This measurement provides plenty of space for decorations while keeping safety in mind. It is important that a mantel shelf not be too deep as this can trap heat. Excess heat can potentially damage the mantel and increase the possibility of a fire. While there is some wiggle room when it comes to mantel depth, remember that the deeper your mantel is, the further up it should be placed in relation to the firebox.

How Do You Hang A Floating Mantel?

A floating mantel can be an asset to your fireplace, and shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to complete. Since mantel shelves are generally made of wood, they can be stained or painted to match virtually any style. Now, there are two different methods for achieving the look of a floating mantel. The first method involves a traditional solid beam secured to the fireplace. The second is a faux beam mantel. Faux beams require more measuring and cutting but achieve the look of a solid beam, without the weight. 

Solid Beam Floating Mantel

A solid beam mantel is truly a unique and admirable feature. However, it has its downsides. Due to its weight, a solid beam mantel needs significant support and usually requires two people to install. Mantels are typically mounted on brick or stone because that is how most fireplace surrounds are made, so these directions are tailored towards those materials. However, a sold beam mangel can be installed on either drywall or wood. If you are installing on drywall, be sure that at least two of the lag bolts are secured to studs, and use anchors.

Materials Needed To Install A Solid Beam Floating Mantel

  • Wooden beam
  • 2″ to 3″ lag bolts 
  • Shield anchors 
  • Masonry drill bit
  • Wood drill bit
  • Skillsaw
  • Drill
  • Hacksaw or angle grinder
  • Pencil/marker
  • Measuring tape

Click here to find these masonry drill bits on Amazon.

Click here to find liquid nails on Amazon.

How To Install A Solid Beam Floating Mantel

  1. Determine the width of your mantelpiece and cut the beam to length.
  2. Measure and mark the fireplace where you will be installing the mantel- be sure to center it!
  3. Mark 3 to 4 holes of equal distance along the length of the fireplace and proceed to drill holes using the masonry bit.
  4. Insert the shield anchors into your holes and screw in the lag bolts.
  5. Using the angle grinder, cut the heads off of the lag bolts.
  6. With the wood drill bit, drill corresponding holes in the wooden beam, deep enough to accept the bolts. Measure carefully as these will need to line up with the lag bolts.
  7. Apply liquid nails to the end of each lag bolt. 
  8. Firmly press the mantel onto the lag bolts. Use a rubber hammer to bump it on, if needed.

For a more detailed look at this process, watch this video from YouTube:

Faux Beam Floating Mantel

The faux beam is hollow, so it is much lighter than a traditional solid beam, and that certainly has its benefits. The most significant advantage is that one person can usually install it. Again, we will be tailoring these directions towards installation into some masonry, but it can be mounted on the drywall as well. If mounting to drywall, use regular screws and drywall anchors.

Materials Needed To Install A Faux Beam Mantel

  • Floating mantel
  • 2×4 board or mounting bracket
  • Drill
  • 2″ to 3″ tapcon screws
  • Drywall screws
  • Masonry bit
  • Wood bit
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil

Click here to find these tapcon screws on Amazon

How To Install Faux Beam Floating Mantel

  1. Determine and mark the center of your fireplace as well as the height at which you will install the mantel.
  2. Using the wood bit, pre-drill holes in the 2×4 where it will be mounted to the fireplace.
  3. Mark corresponding holes in the masonry, and pre-drill holes using the masonry bit.
  4. Fasten the 2×4 to the fireplace using the tapcon screws.
  5. Predrill holes in the top of the mantel, where you will be attaching it to the 2×4.
  6. Set the floating mantel in place.
  7. Secure the mantel to the 2×4 using the drywall screws.

For a visual, and for more clarification on how to hang a faux beam floating mantel, review this YouTube tutorial:

Can Your TV Be Wider Than The Fireplace?

Fireplaces and TVs usually both occupy a central position in the home, so it is common to hang the TV over the fireplace. However, finding the appropriate balance for this decor can be difficult. Although there are no hard and fast rules, choosing a TV that is smaller than your fireplace is generally recommended. If you have a tiny fireplace and the TV must be larger than the fireplace, it should be at least smaller than the mantel. Sizing keeps the TV and fireplace in aesthetically pleasing proportion with one another.

Remember to hang the TV high enough that it will not be damaged by heat from the fireplace. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out this article showcasing 27 Living Rooms With a Fireplace and TV.

You don’t have a fireplace, and your mounted TV looks bare? These decorating ideas may help! How to Decorate the Wall Around Your TV

In Conclusion

Whether you’re installing a whole new fireplace, simply replacing the mantel, or just questioning whether or not your mantel is proportionate, you are now armed with the ins and out of mantel dimensions and hanging options.  

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