Make a Fireplace Mantle that only LOOKS Expensive

My sister had a really horrible looking fireplace when she first moved into her house. It’s OK, she said it first. Jenny turned to me for my help since I am pretty good at working something out on the cheap. We started our project by going to see what the stores had in stock. Holy cow! Nice looking store bought mantles are EXPENSIVE.! Mantles in our local hardware store were in the $300.00 to $500.00 range.

This is what the mantle looked like when Jen bought her fixer upper. It was just raw wood with an exposed drywall cap.

We were convinced us that we could duplicate one of the expensive store bought mantles with stacked strips of lumber and molding. So we went through all of our options at the store and came up with a combination that mimicked one of our favorite mantles. Not too plain and not too fancy was perfect.

We started to build up the mantle by using small nails and strips of pine placed under the original mantle overhang. Then we added a strip of molding leaving a little overlap at the top. That was where we wanted to attach the 1/8″ plywood cap.
We kept adding strips of wood until we had a nice mantle. This is the finished mantle before the stain. The total cost of the wood was a little less than $60.00. Now that’s more like it!
Jenny did the finish work herself. She filled the little nail holes and gaps, sanded and stained. Her stain work consisted of one coat of a warm brown which she let dry. Then she followed it with a brush on / wipe off coat of grey stain.
The next problem on the fireplace was the mis-matched slate tiles. The ones on the right side of the surround were more brown than the grey on the left side. Also, the tile on the hearth is totally different than the rest of the tile. Jenny wanted all of the tiles to be more grey, so she asked me to paint them. Wondering if regular acrylic craft paint will stick to slate? LOL, have you ever dropped paint on a rock and tried to get it off? It sticks, believe me. After I painted every tile so that they still had color variation and looked like natural slate, I sealed them. I used the regular grout dealer that you use for regular tile. It worked great.
The final fireplace redo. I think that it turned out beautiful if I may say so myself

2 thoughts on “Make a Fireplace Mantle that only LOOKS Expensive

  1. I love before and after projects. This is wonderful. You did such a terrific job with the entire fireplace renovation. kudos!!

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