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Fireplace Mantels

Updated on November 23, 2009

Fireplace mantels or fireplace mantels and surrounds as they are sometimes called are decorative frames for your fireplace. Some people think that a fireplace mantel is just a shelf above the fireplace, but that is not really the case. While fireplace mantels shelves are an important part of most fireplace mantels plans, a shelf alone is not a mantel. A fireplace mantel can be simple or ornate and can be made of a wide variety of materials. If your fireplace does not already have a mantel, then they are easy enough to construct. There is no reason that every hearth cannot have beautiful fireplace surround plans. Even a ventless fireplace insert or electric fireplace insert will benefit from a beautiful fireplace mantel.

The fireplace mantel offsets the fireplace from the rest of the room and helps to make in the focal point. They can also tie in with architectural elements in the rest of the room. For example, in the video to the right, you can see fireplace mantels and hearths that have columns that are then repeated in other parts of the room. The same shape and style of column that surrounds the fireplace might surround windows or doorways creating continuity throughout the room. Another way you can make the mantel the focal point of the room is with fireplace mantels decorating. There are many different styles, but one thing that is common to almost all fireplace mantels designs is a shelf. Many people choose to put photos or important memorabilia on that shelf. People often are drawn towards pictures and will definitely look at your fireplace if your fireplace mantel designs make it possible for them to view family photos.

There are two main types of mantels and they are antique fireplace mantels and modern fireplace mantels. Of the antique variety, there are two styles, which are Italian Renaissance style and Victorian or European style. If you are interested in an antique fireplace mantel then you could look for fireplace mantels for sale on eBay or in antique shops. You can also find them for sale at woodshops or from people who salvage old homes. It could be a fun project to restore an old fireplace mantel to its old glory and then hang it in your living space. It would be a great conversation piece. If you purchase an antique mantel, try to get as much history about where it was hung previously as you can so you can fully appreciate it. To make your mantel even more authentic you should think about purchasing antique fireplace accessories sit along side of it.

Modern fireplace mantels can be purchased anywhere there are fireplace tools for sale and are made of lots of different materials. Wood fireplace mantels are probably the most common. Wood mantes are easy to make and easy to hang on the wall because relatively speaking they are not too heavy. Any kind of wood will do but the most common varieties used for fireplace mantels are oak, pine, and mahogany. Oak is used because it is a very sturdy wood. Pine is easy to work with if you want to do carvings and can be stained almost any shade. Mahogany has a very elegant look and brings some regality to the room. There are also stone fireplace mantels and marble fireplace mantels and these can be trickier. Because the stone and marble are so heavy you want to enlist the help of a professional to make sure they are installed properly. Stone fireplace mantels can give the impression of a stone outdoor fireplace so they are a good choice for a rustic cabin or chalet. Marble is a particularly nice choice because it comes in a variety of colors and heat or a fire cannot damage it if a fire were to get out of hand and escape the firebox.

Other possible materials include stainless steel, copper, glass, or brick. The first three materials would most likely be used as accents. You are not likely to find an entirely glass fireplace mantel, but you could find a mantel with a glass shelf. The brick is another good choice if you are looking for something rustic because they give the impression of brick outdoor fireplaces. No matter what material you choose for your fireplace mantel, glass fireplace screens or glass fireplace doors with screens are your best choice for protecting the room form the flames. Glass is the best material to use becuase it will detract from the beauty of the mantel the least.

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