Should Fireplace Mantel Match Trim Or Floor?

Fireplaces can make a room so cozy, especially during the chilly seasons. A fireplace mantel's color and how it is installed has a significant impact on how comfortable and put together a room looks. So even without a roaring fire, your appropriately placed and coordinated mantel captures the eye from anywhere in the room. We researched high and low to determine whether a fireplace mantel should match the room's trim or floor.

Some homeowners paint the mantel the same color as either the walls or the floor. However, it is most common for a fireplace mantel to match or complement the trim. Matching a fireplace mantle and trim helps tie the entire room together in a very classy fashion. However, the fireplace mantel is also an excellent opportunity to express your style by adding the right decor.

With all the potential fireplaces have, it can be hard to decide how to position a mantel and coordinate it with the room. Keep reading as we take a look at how to install and decorate a mantel.

A fireplace inside a cool modern house with a decorative stone entry, Should Fireplace Mantel Match Trim Or Floor?

Can I Paint A Wood Mantel?

In most cases, yes, you can paint a wood mantel. Painting your wood mantel can be a great way to breathe new life into an otherwise drab room. If you want to mix things up a bit, painting a wood mantel to match the floor molding (trim) can be a great way to shake things up and tie the room together.

When considering whether you want to or if you can paint your wood mantel, the first thing to look at is the wood itself. If the wood is rough, it may need to be sanded down or may require extra paint. If your wood mantel has already been painted and you want to paint over it in a darker color, it should be pretty straightforward. Regardless, you will likely need sandpaper and at least three layers of paint. 

What Type Of Paint Should You Use On A Fireplace Mantel?

For a fireplace, semi-gloss acrylic paint is ideal. While oil and other paints will function well on a fireplace, the heat will eventually cause them to lose their color. 

Most paints and finishes are heatproof and safe for fireplace mantels. However, avoid painting your fireplace mantel with fireproof paints and finishes such as intumescent coating and paints because they will puff up and swell with the application of heat. While not all fireproof paints react this way, most have a similar reaction. When in doubt, do not be afraid to ask a paint expert or do a quick google search on that specific paint.

How Do You Stage A Mantel?

While there are many nuances to staging a mantel, we have three actionable guides to help get you started.

1. Center Stage Item

When staging a mantel, it is easiest to have one item to be the focal point. Mirrors, pictures, and wreaths are commonly chosen as a focal point for mantels because these items tie the room together and add a cozy touch. In this example, the picture frame is a large focal point that quickly draws the eye to the mantel. It also coordinates colors from around the room to help both add variety and tie things together.

2. Grouped Items 

If possible, put items together in groups. For example, groupings of two or three items are common when staging a house as it allows for one focal point, and one or two supporting items. This can be mixed and matched in a variety of ways. For example, in the above picture, the homeowner arranged two separate groups to highlight the television as the focal point. As you can see, grouping draws the eye rather than distracts from the focal point. 

3. Blend Variety

The mantel is a great place to add color and variety to an otherwise neutral room. The color of the mantel should tie the room together, whereas the items on the mantel can do the same thing. This is especially handy if the room features contrasting colors. 

For example, this fireplace ties the room as a whole together. Then the plants, pumpkin, and pictures add a  pop of color that suits the room nicely.

Where Should a Mantel Be Placed?

Ideally, the bottom of a fireplace mantel is placed one foot above the fireplace opening. This is a very important rule, as any lower and the mantel can become a fire hazard. In the United States, this mantel placement is required in housing codes by the National Fire Protection Agency.

The mantel can be higher than 12 inches, but 12 inches is generally ideal for safety and style. This is typically going to be around four and a half feet from the floor to the base of the mantle. It will vary a bit from home to home, depending on how tall your fireplace is set.

It is essential to accurately measure from the bottom of the mantle to the fireplace. So if your mantle is four inches thick, there needs to be a minimum of 16 inches from the top of the mantle to the fireplace opening. The easiest way to do this is to get a one-foot ruler and make sure it fits between the mantle and the opening. 

How Deep Should Your Mantel Be?

A fireplace mantel should extend approximately three inches beyond the fireplace's opening. While it can be deeper, it should not be shallower than three inches.

It is not included in most housing codes, but having less than three inches beyond the fireplace's opening is a potential fire risk. Three inches allows adequate space to safely hang decorative items, such as Christmas stockings, from the mantle. 

If a mantle extends six inches beyond the fireplace opening, people walking by will be much more likely to run into it. So, three to six inches beyond the fireplace opening is the ideal range.

If you are installing a mantel yourself, try not to just "eyeball" the mantle's depth and height. Doing so could be a fire hazard and may not be up to housing code. When in doubt, ask your neighbors and other sources what they did for their mantel.


In conclusion, a fireplace mantel can match either the trim or the floor, but most designers suggest the mantel should match the trim. The bottom of the mantel should also be placed at least twelve inches above the fireplace opening and is ideally three inches deep.

To mix things up, wood mantels can be painted. Having a focal point, grouping items, and adding variety are also great ways to design a fireplace mantel for staging and daily life.

Are you interested in learning more about designing and decorating your living room? Take a look at some of these other related articles!

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How To Arrange Two Sofas In Living Room

Which Throw Pillows Work Best With A Dark Gray Couch? [21 Ideas With Pictures]


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