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Different Types of Fireplace Mantels

Updated on March 19, 2010

Just about everyone who has a fireplace in their home has a fireplace mantel. Fireplace mantels make fireplaces and adjacent hearths look “complete.” They also provide a nice place to display artwork, books, or collectibles, and if you celebrate Christmas, you’ll need one from which to hang the stockings with care! The fireplace and mantel are often the focal point of a room, so much thought should be put into choosing the right one for your decorating style.

Generally speaking, fireplace mantels are available in two main styles. The first is the mantel shelf. With this style, a shelf sits above the fireplace. The other style is the fireplace surround mantel. In this case, the mantel and surround are joined together and have three sides. One side extends above the fireplace, and the other two sides flank the fireplace itself, generally running from the base of the hearth up to the mantel shelf.

Mantels and surrounds can be made from many different materials. The most popular are natural woods, including oak, birch, alder, hemlock, maple, Walnut, pine, Douglas fir, cherry, poplar, and an Asian hardwood called Choi. The wooden mantels and surrounds can be stained or painted. Some of the fireplace mantels are solid wood, and some are veneers.

Wooden mantels and surrounds are usually the least expensive type, especially the paint grade products. A mantel made of wood with an attractive natural grain can be stained instead of painted, but these are more expensive than the paint grade wooden mantels. One advantage of painted mantels, other than the price, is the fact that they can be painted to match any décor. They can also be distressed or treated with a crackle glaze and are great options for do-it-yourself projects.

Fireplace mantels and surrounds are also available in cast stone and gypsum. These are often more expensive than wood mantels, but they’re very durable and will last for decades, if not longer. Other stones used in the construction of fireplace mantels are sandstone, limestone, and travertine. An advantage of stone fireplace mantels and fireplace surrounds is their natural heatproof and fireproof characteristics.

The most expensive type of mantels and surrounds are made of marble. Most of these are hand carved, one at a time, and are true works of art. The price tag reflects this: this type of surround and mantel costs thousands of dollars.

When it comes to style, homeowners have an entire spectrum from which to choose. Someone with a log cabin might prefer a rough-hewn beam as a rustic mantel, and log fireplace mantels are also available. Someone with a more formal décor may prefer a fireplace mantel with intricate scrollwork. Other popular styles include Early American, country French, Napoleon, Versailles, Louis XIV, traditional, and contemporary. A carved statue surround and adjoining mantel are very ornate pieces that often display lions’ heads, chariots, or Greek and Roman deities.

Homeowners also have the option of having a fireplace mantel custom made to their specifications. By choosing this option, you’ll be able to decide on the style, size, and construction material yourself instead of choosing one from a showroom. You can have a truly unique, one-of-a-kind fireplace mantel that no one else has.

Wooden fireplace mantels and surrounds can be painted to match any decor.
Wooden fireplace mantels and surrounds can be painted to match any decor.
A walnut mantel and surround in an Early American design.
A walnut mantel and surround in an Early American design.

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    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Haha! Thanks, Maita. Hubby helps with most of these home-improvement hubs!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Quildon, I usually use push pins to hold up the stockings. You can also find stocking holders - heavy figurines with hooks for holding the stockings. Sometimes you can find these at the Dollar Tree!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      So true, Michael!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 

      8 years ago from US

      you can write anyhting under the sun and inside the home-fireplace, thanks habee, Maita

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I love my fireplace too. The first Christmas we spent in the house, I hung the stockings from the mantle using a type of tape that was supposed to hold, but the stockings came down one by one a few minutes after. I never put them up after that. Any solutions, habee?

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Nothing like the sound of a crispy fire cracklin fireplace! Great Hub!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks you for your kind words, Teresa!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Audrey, we have an outside fireplace. If you put one on your deck, lay some tile under it first!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Glad you stopped by, Fester!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading, Pam!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I agree, Veronica. They just make a room so homey!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Ethel, we'll have to make room for another stocking next Christmas!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, HH! How are you?

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I live in an apartment but I do have a fireplace and the mantel is the center of attraction in my apartment. Nice pictures.

    • Teresa Laurente profile image

      Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente 

      8 years ago from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.

      I love mantels in homes. Its a conversation piece, it is a place to lay out your favorite nick-knacks, and so on and so forth. Thank you habee, I saw your great reviews in my weekly email. Congratulations. I see you have so many important message here that you share. More power.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      I miss having my fireplace - here in Prinetucky we have too many windows and barely can fit our furniture around. I wonder if I could put one out on the deck? Great info - now I'm gonna be sad about not having the fireplace but I guess just one more thing to clean.

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Nice hub. I want a fireplace! I rent an apt without one presently.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very nice. I love my fireplace and the mantle. It was in place when we bought the house but I wouldn't change it. Thanks for an interesting hub.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      8 years ago from Central Texas

      Great Hub -- just wish I had a fireplace! Best, Sis

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      There's something about a fireplace and fireplace mantel that just brings so much warmth to any room.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Aw all those stockings. Good Hub. We bought a new fire surround etc a couple of years ago. It makes a great focal point

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Lovely hub. Thank you.

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