Fireplace Mantle Surround | A Beginners Guide

We LOVE a fireplace in the living room. It adds such beautiful architectural details to any space. If you are following along from the previous weeks, welcome. We are coming to the finish line, adding in all the details with molding and trim. This simple DIY tutorial will show you how easy it is to build a fireplace surround and mantel. We will show you our step by step process, so you can be a doer as well. 😉

The title of “doer” makes me chuckle. When we moved into our home 5 years ago, one of our neighbors came over to introduce herself and welcome us to the neighborhood. One of her first comments to me was, “oh, you’re a doer”. I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but soon understood. We soon became great friends, she never was a “doer” but she loved to spend her weekends at yard sales, another passion of mine.  I am a doer, DIYer and I love it! 

Fireplace Mantle Surround

Are you loving the way this turned out? It has been fun to watch Steph and Dan’s living room transform with the addition of a fireplace. After all, the center of every living room should be a fireplace. This is a special place in a home as it brings people together. 

Sit back, relax and enjoy the process! If you are more of a visual learner, we’ve created a short video of our steps adding the detail molding and trim. Click on the link below.

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Supplies Used to Create Fireplace Mantle Surround

Step 1: Mount Cleats - Fireplace Mantle Surround

Installing Faux Beam Mantle
Prepping for Fireplace Surround

From our previous post, you know that we created a faux beam mantle, which was attached to the wall with a large cleat. We temporarily put the faux beam into position as we prepared and attached the cleats which would secure the fireplace surround to the wall. The surround would fit snuggley against the faux beam mantle.

Step 2: Construct Fireplace Surround

Bast for fireplace mantle surround

The surround consists of 3 boxes. The top box for the center measure 10 1/2″ x 54″ The 2 boxes for the sides measure 10 1/2″ x 51″ The depth for all 3 boxes is 3 5/8″.

The pieces for the boxes were cut from a 4′ x 8′ MDF wood panel. We like to use MDF for our projects and built-ins because it’s easy to work with, paints beautifully and is inexpensive. We made all of the cuts using a table saw, but a circular saw with a guide would also work. Or if you are not comfortable using a saw, you can have the cuts made for you at Home Depot. I believe they charge $.50 per cut.

As the boxes were assembled, all of the seams face towards the front. All of the seams will be covered with molding later on in the construction process.

The 3 boxes were then secured together with screws. First we cut a notch out were the 2 boxes connected with the center box, so it is able to attach to the cleat. Because the cleats needed to be secure in studs, we needed the top cleat to run the entire distance. This is more clearly illustrated in the video tutorial.

Step 3: Attach Fireplace Surround to Cleats

Fireplace Mantle Surround

We then positioned the surround over our cleats and secured them with brads with a pneumatic brad nailer. 

Step 4: Attach Corbels

Fireplace Mantle Surround

Steph had bought 3 antique corbels several years ago at a vintage market. She was so excited to use them for her fireplace mantle surround! They were in rough condition, you can see how she restored them here.

We attached the corbels to the surround with wood glue and 2″ brads. The corbels are not structural, they are not supporting the beam. The beam is secured with the wall cleats.

Step 5: Add Detail Molding & Trim - Fireplace Mantel Surround

Fireplace Mantle Surround

This is the exciting part, the details that add that craftsman look. 

We began by adding the 5″ base molding around the 2 side surrounds. The corners were cut at a 45º, then nailed into position with 2″ brads.

Fireplace Mantle Surround

The dimension of the surround was all based on the width of the corbels and the 2 1/2″ wide molding we were planning on using. 

We next measured for the 2 1/2″ wide molding that would be attached to the front of the surround. 

Note: all of the decorative molding we used was primed 2 1/2″ wide flat trim molding.

Fireplace Mantle Surround

Once the trim molding was cut to length, we ran a bead of wood glue on the back side.

Fireplace Mantle Surround

Then we attached each piece of molding with the pneumatic brad nailer.

If you do not have a brad nailer, and are doing a lot a projects, it is a great investment. It makes the job so much easier. The pneumatic nailer sets the brads just below the surface of the wood, which makes it so easy to fill with wood putty and create a beautiful finish.

Fireplace Mantle Surround

We cut and secured all of the long pieces of trim molding first. Then we measured, cut and secured all of the short trim molding pieces. We repeated this same design above the mantle as well. You will see that in the photos below.

Step 6: Trim Molding on Corbels

Fireplace Mantle Surround

Using the same 2 1/2″ trim molding we cut and angled the corners with a 45º. They are also secured with wood glue and brads.

Step 7: Construct Overmantle

Fireplace Mantle Surround
Fireplace Mantle Surround
Fireplace Mantle Surround

Steph’s walls are textured and she wanted the overmantel to look like a wood panel. Therefore we cut a piece of primed masonite to go above the mantle. We made cuts in the panel for the outlets for the TV.  

Fireplace Mantle Surround

We began by prepping the top for the crown molding. To make the crown molding appear chunkier, we first attached a 1 x 5 board. Then the crown was cut to length, angling the corners back to the wall.

Now the crown molding is not perfect! But with a little caulk it will look terrific.

Every time I mention to Steve that the project involves crown molding, he gives me THAT look. You know the one, that says are you kidding me, no!  He hates cutting crown molding, he usually cuts the angle wrong and we need to go purchase another piece. However this time he got it right the first time, it must be all that practice I’m giving him. 😉

Fireplace Mantle Surround

To finish off the sides of the overmantel as well as the fireplace mantle surround, we attached a small 1/4 round.

Step 8: Finish Work - Fireplace Mantle Surround

Fireplace Mantle Surroud

We are approaching the finish line! 😃 We begin by filling all of the holes from the brads with putty. We like to use DAP DryDex. Fill in the holes with a small putty knife, when dry (pink putty turned white) sand with a fine grit sandpaper until smooth.

Fireplace Mantle Surround

Next, caulk all of the edges of the molding and around the corbels. Apply a thin bead of caulk with the gun, them smooth with your finger. 

Steph is a real pro at this! She actually likes to caulk, so I have her do all of the caulking.  Darn it, my nails just get in the way and I can’t get a smooth finish!

Once all the caulking is dry and the fireplace mantle surround is sanded and the dust removed, it’s ready for the finish.

We primed the bare wood, then applied 2 coats of a cabinet paint. We used Behr Urethane Alkyd Satin Enamel. This paint is fabulous for cabinetry and wood projects. It is extremely durable and has a self-leveling component, which minimized brush strokes.

Fireplace Mantle Surround

And here she is in all of her glory! You can see better in the photo how we carried the same trim molding design up to the overmantel, creating a beautiful craftsman, coastal, farmhouse style. Take your pick, I think this style of fireplace mantle surround would work well in so many different home styles.

Fireplace Mantle Surround
Fireplace Mantle Surround

We love the chippy, rustic corbels with the clean lines of the craftsman style fireplace mantle surround. It looks fresh and gave us a little vintage, lived in look.

Fireplace Mantle Surround

So is this a project you think you would like to tackle? It definitely helps to have many hands doing a project of this size. We enjoyed working on this together, it makes for a fun date night, or nights!

Fireplace Mantle Surround

Next week we will be sharing our finial post, installing the brick tile surround. You will not want to miss this!

If you’ve missed any of these previous posts from our fireplace series click on the links below.

How to Install a Gas Fireplace Insert

Faux Wood Beam Mantle

How to Restore Vintage Corbels

Thanks for spending a little time with us today! If you were inspired by this post PIN it to save for later and share with your friends!

Be sure to join us again next Saturday for another post in our fireplace series, the Brick Tile Surround.

And as always here at Sunny Side Deisgn

WE HOPE TO BRING YOUR HOME TO THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET!

Fireplace Mantel Surround

Looking for more Fireplace Mantel Surround ideas? Then click here.

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