Fireplace Makeover Phase one: How to build a faux wood beam mantel and make your fireplace the statement piece it should be!
Do you have an old dated fireplace in need of some modernization? We bought our home 12 years ago and I have never been a fan of our fireplace, until this year….AFTER I completed the fireplace makeover (which I shared a couple weeks ago here). The first step to this makeover, was replacing the boring, thin builder’s-grade mantle with a chunky faux wood beam mantel. And I’m here today to show you how I did it!
But first here’s a quick “before” look…
And here’s what it looks like now. Isn’t the transformation amazing?!!
And now let’s jump into phase one of this tutorial. (Be sure to check back for Phase 2 and 3 over the next couple weeks)…
How to Build a Faux Wood Beam Mantel:
Flathead screw driver
1×4’s (amount needed is dependent upon the project)
2×4’s (amount needed is dependent upon the project)
1×6’s (amount needed is dependent upon the project)
3/4″ plywood (I needed two 4×8 sheets)
2-1/2″ pocket hole screws
1-1/2 finishing screws
Wood stain (Jacobean by MinWax is what I used)
The first step is to get rid of your old mantel. The easiest way to do this is with these four tools….
First, you’ll want to use your box cutter and cut the caulking between the mantel and the rest of the fireplace. Anywhere your mantel is attached (i.e. wall, etc), run a cut with your box cutter…
Now you’re ready to shimmy your crowbar and flat head screwdriver in between the mantel and fireplace. The easiest way to do this is to start with your flat head–using a hammer, drive your flathead into the cut you made with the box cutter. This will open up enough space to then wedge your crowbar in there, allowing you to work the crowbar up and down loosening the mantel from the fireplace….
If you’re lucky your mantel will come off with little muscle power. I wasn’t that lucky. 🙁 It definitely took some work.
But finally it came off…
I personally didn’t want the trim around the bottom, so I ended up removing that too. And added my own trim, using 1×4’s…
Now you’re ready to build the cleat that will hold your faux wood beam mantel.
First measure how long you want your mantel to be, then cut a 2×4 to that length. This will be your cleat support.
Next, determine how wide you want your mantel to be. How far do you want it to stick out from the wall?
You’ll then cut 2×4’s to get you to that width. Be sure to keep in mind the width of the 2×4 you cut for the cleat support. Hopefully the picture below will help make this clear. For example, I wanted my mantel to come about 10 inches out from the wall. So, I first took into account the 1.5 inches for my cleat support (2×4) and therefore cut my cleats 8.5 inches–totaling 10 inches….
To attach the cleats to the cleat support, you’ll need to drill 1-1/2″ pocket holes into one end of each cleat. And then attach using 2-1/2″ pocket hole screws. I spaced my cleats out about 10 inches apart…
Note: If you have an outlet (like I have), you’ll need to make sure the length of your cleat support doesn’t cover the outlet. You may need to build separate cleats (one on each side of the outlet-like I did above)….
Now you’re ready to attach your cleat to the wall using 2-1/2″ screws. Make sure you are attaching your screws into studs. And it’s a good idea to use a level to make sure your cleat is straight….
The mantel is removed, the cleat is attached and now we’re ready to actually build the faux wood beam mantel.
Using 3/4″ plywood, cut your top and bottom boards to the length and width of your cleat you built and attached above….
The board above is my top board of my faux wood beam mantel. As you can see, I made a cut-out to stuff all of my cords (TV, speaker, Apple TV, etc) down into. A great way to hide all of that unsightly mess. It’ll look like this…
Next cut your side boards. Rather than using plywood for the side and front boards, I used 1×6’s. The 1×6’s give a more authentic wood look for the areas you’re actually going to see.
Attach your side boards to the bottom board using wood glue and 1-1/2″ screws (These are my all-time favorite screws to use in any project)….(Affiliate Link)….
Then attach your top board….
Cut your front board to size and attach it…
Now that you have the faux wood beam built, you’re ready to attach it to your cleat.
This is where mine got a little tricky and required some math. I knew this issue was coming, but decided to face it once I got to it. My beam would only slide over the cleat so far before it hit the molding and columns of the fireplace….
(Sorry for the blurriness of the above picture–that’s really bad 🙁 ) Basically, I had to measure how much the fireplace was blocking the bottom of my faux beam and cut those spaces out….
With some math and playing around with it, I finally got it to work….
Please don’t let this scare you…If I can do all that math and work through this snag, you can too! Math is, by far, my weakest subject!! You’ve got this!!!
Once your faux wood beam is in place, you’re ready to attach it to the cleat. Using 1-1/2 screws, attach the beam to the top, sides and front of the cleat.
Fill in all of your nail holes and she’s ready for stain. I chose Jacobean by MinWax for mine (affiliate link)…
Be sure to check back next week for phase two of the fireplace makeover–How to build a hearth.
Until next time,
Happy Building, Friend!!
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