Using A Reclaimed Wood Mantel for Your Fireplace – Our Guide

A floating reclaimed wood mantel with ornate corbels. The mantel shelf is mounted on an unpainted bare brick wall. Ornaments and a picture are on the shelf, and switches can be seen on a blank wall to the left of the mantel. There is a wooden chair in the bottom right of the photograph and some blue, red, and pink arrows on a cartoon signpost. Across the top of the image are the words, "Using A Reclaimed Wood Mantel for Your Fireplace - Our Guide."

As the temperature drops, nothing beats the thrill of curling up in front of a warm, crackling fireplace.

While the fireplace itself may be the focal point of your living room, the mantle adds the finishing touch.

However, instead of opting for a run-of-the-mill mantel, why not use a reclaimed wood mantel, brimming with character, for your fireplace?

A reclaimed wood mantel will add rustic charm to your home while portraying a unique history and character.

Besides, using a mantel made from reclaimed wood is an excellent way to contribute to sustainable building as it helps conserve forests. It also reduces the amount of waste wood that gets into landfills.

In the rest of this guide, I’ll discuss the different designs, types, and styles of fireplace mantelpieces. I’ll also discuss how to use reclaimed wood fireplace mantels.

Let’s get started!

Designs of Fireplace Mantels

Fireplace mantelpieces are designed in two primary ways:

  • A ‘floating’ mantel or mantel ‘shelf’
  • A mantel as part of a fireplace surround

A ‘Floating’ Mantel or Mantel ‘Shelf’

A fireplace mantel shelf with white brick surround and plant pots on top of the shelf, and a mirror mounted on the wall above.
Image courtesy of Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash.

A ‘floating’ mantel, also known as a mantel ‘shelf,’ is a standalone option that is not part of the fireplace surround.

Instead of being attached to the wall with visible supports or brackets, a mantel ‘shelf’ appears to be floating above a fireplace opening. A reclaimed wood fireplace mantel shelf is common in many homes due to its rustic patina.

Floating mantels are popular in houses with limited space. These mantelpieces offer a minimalist, modern, and stylish appearance. Thus, if you’re a minimalist, you’d enjoy how a floating shelf fits in with the rest of your décor.

Floating mantels are highly versatile – they can be made from wood, stone, concrete, antique, and cast stone.

These mantels can be customized to fit any style or décor. For instance, a reclaimed wood floating mantel adds warmth and character to a traditional or farmhouse-style living room.

On the other hand, a sleek, polished concrete mantel gives an industrial or contemporary touch to a modern house.

If you go for a floating mantel, ensure it’s securely anchored to the wall to prevent it from falling.

Overall, a floating mantel is your go-to option if you want to finish your fireplace on a tight budget.

A Mantel as Part of a Fireplace Surround

A painting of a fireplace with a mantel as part of the fireplace surround in a log cabin. The fire is roaring with bright flames and there are candles on the mantel shelf.
Fireplace mantel surround. Image by Square Frog from Pixabay

A mantelpiece that’s part of the fireplace surround provides a more traditional appearance to any living space. The mantel will usually have corbels or columns attached to the sides.

These mantels are usually made from wood, stone, cast stone, and other materials.

Mantel surrounds are ideal for large rooms with plenty of space because they cover large portions of the walls. Thus, you need sufficient space, not only for the mantel surround but also for the eyes to wander freely and make the fireplace a center of attraction.

Because it takes up a lot of space, a mantel surround serves as a focal point in the room. It adds style and value to a home.

To maximize the aesthetic appeal of a mantel surround, you can use the empty spaces to display decorative items like vases, candles, or photographs. You can also use it to hang stockings during the holiday season!

There are two key things to consider when choosing a fireplace mantel surround:

  • The home’s style and aesthetic: While a reclaimed wood mantel is ideal for a home with classic or rustic décor, a sleek, modern concrete mantel surround is suitable for a contemporary space.
  • Size and scale: The fireplace mantel surround must be proportionate to your room and fireplace. An oversized or undersized mantel will appear awkward and out of place.

Types and Styles of Fireplace Mantels

The following are some types and styles of fireplace mantelpieces:

Victorian Style Fireplace Mantelpieces

A Victorian-style fireplace mantelpiece made from cast stone. The mantel shelf has a painting of flowers, two plant pots, and a clock.
A Rochester Arched Victorian Cast Stone Mantel. Image courtesy of Victorian Fireplace Shop.

Victorian-style mantels typically feature ornate designs with intricate carvings and complex shapes. It’s one of the reclaimed wood fireplace mantel ideas loved by many.

They are made of hardwood, marble, or granite and come in various colors and finishes.

Victorian-style mantels are expensive due to their intricate and ornate carvings with expensive finishing.

Rustic Fireplace Mantels

A Farmhouse Style Fireplace Mantel mounted on a stone wall. The mantel shelf is made from reclaimed wood and has several candlesticks, two flower pots, and two paintings.
A Farmhouse Style Fireplace Mantel. Image courtesy of Rustic Red Door Co..

Rustic mantels offer a more traditional, cozy look to fireplaces.

They are usually made from reclaimed wood and come in various finishes, including dark stains and natural shades of brown.

This option usually uses a reclaimed wood mantel with corbels as decorative supports. They can also be customized with cast iron sculptures and other accents for a unique touch.

Choose an option finished with rough, distressed edges for a more rustic appearance.

Craftsman-Style Fireplace Mantels

A craftsman-style mantel with a rippled wave texture and stone surround.
A craftsman-style mantel with a rippled wave texture and stone surround. Image courtesy of WHOLE LOG RECLAIMED.

The craftsman-style mantelpieces feature bold lines and simple geometric designs with clean finishes.

These mantels are usually made from solid wood or cast stone and come in different colors and finishes.

A crucial factor to consider when going for this option is the appearance of the bold lines on your fireplace. If you want to add a touch of drama, consider going for an unfinished option.

The mantel ties in nicely with other craftsman furniture like cabinets and end tables.

Contemporary Fireplace Mantels

A contemporary fireplace mantel with smooth dark wood surround and clean edges.
A contemporary fireplace mantel with wood surround. Image courtesy of Decorilla.

Contemporary mantelpieces have simple and modern designs that match almost any décor. They are usually made with smooth finishes from wood, metal, or concrete.

To add texture and character to your fireplace, consider getting one finished with a marble or granite top.

Overall, contemporary mantels are perfect for homes looking to achieve a modern look.

Distressed Fireplace Mantels

A distressed fireplace mantel that looks somewhat worn and weathered. There is a green wreath above it and a plant pot and clock on the shelf. There are 13 candles arranged where the fireplace should be on a brown suitcase.
A distressed fireplace mantel. Image courtesy of Weathered Finishes LLC.

Distressed mantelpieces give a home a classical, vintage look.

They are usually made from reclaimed wood and come in shades of brown and gray.

To achieve the distressed appearance on your mantel, consider going for one with professionally-designed rough edges and imperfections.

A distressed mantel can be ideal for a weathered, lived-in appearance.

Can You Put Reclaimed Wood Around a Fireplace?

You can put reclaimed wood around a fireplace due to its versatility and natural rustic appearance.

Reclaimed wood is easy to work with, so installing it does not require a lot of construction or carpentry skills.

Moreover, reclaimed wood gives your fireplace a unique warmth and richness you won’t find in other mantel materials.

How Do You Attach a Reclaimed Wooden Mantel?

Here is the procedure to attach a reclaimed wood mantel to your fireplace:

First, you need to get the necessary tools for a seamless process. You’ll need the following:


  1. Mark the wall: Measure the size of your reclaimed wood mantel and mark the correct position on the wall. Make sure to level it with the fireplace.
  2. Attach mounting brackets: Use your drill/driver and screws to attach the mounting brackets to the wall.
  3. Secure the mantel: Slide the mantel over the mounting bracket and secure it with heavy-duty screws.
  4. Check stability: Give the mantel a gentle push to ensure it’s stable and secure.

Here is a video demonstrating the above process:

A screenshot of a YouTube video explaining how to attach a reclaimed wooden mantel to the wall. The screenshot shows an oak mantel, held in place with black metal brackets. There is a TV mounted on the wall immediately above.
Image courtesy of RJM Fishtales on YouTube.

How Do You Fireproof a Wooden Mantel?

You can fireproof a wooden mantel by installing a fire-resistant barrier like a piece of tempered glass or metal sheet. In addition, you must install the mantel at a suitable clearance, at least 2 inches (51 mm) from the firebox.

Can You Use Wood for a Fireplace Mantel?

Although you can use wood for a fireplace mantel, it’s worth noting that wood is combustible. Therefore, according to Fire Codes, you must observe a fireplace clearance of at least 2 inches (51 mm) from the firebox.

What Are the Disadvantages of Reclaimed Wood?

The disadvantages of reclaimed wood include the following:

  • Limited supply.
  • Inconsistencies in quality.
  • It is expensive.

Is Reclaimed Wood Heat Resistant?

Reclaimed wood is not heat-resistant. Therefore, it must be installed at a safe clearance from the fireplace to prevent cracking.

How to Make a Mantel Out of Reclaimed Wood

The following is the procedure for making a mantel out of reclaimed wood:

First things first – get the necessary tools. You’ll need the following:

  • Three pieces of reclaimed wood with different sizes.
  • A measuring tape.
  • Chop saw.
  • A marking pen.
  • A drill/driver.
  • Nail gun.
  • Wood glue.


  1. Measure the wood: Lay the largest piece of reclaimed wood on a table and measure the size you want using a tape measure. Mark the desired length.
  2. Cut the wood: Cut the wood using a chop saw according to the measurements and split it for the top and bottom pieces.
  3. Cut the sideway fittings: Cut sideway fittings from the other two pieces of wood.
  4. Apply glue: Apply glue on the sides of the main reclaimed wood to assemble the fitting pieces of wood.
  5. Assemble: Assemble the three pieces from the glued directions. Use a nail gun to hold them firmly.
  6. Secure: Secure the mantel on the wall using the attachment procedure detailed above.
  7. Check stability: Give the mantel a gentle push to ensure it’s stable and secure.

Your reclaimed wood mantel is now ready for use.

Here is a video demonstrating this process:

A screenshot of a YouTube video explaining how to make a mantel out of reclaimed wood and attach it to the wall. There are two smartly dressed men installing the mantel. One man holds the mantel against the wall while the other uses a drill to drive screws into the supporting ledger beneath the mantel.
Image courtesy of Hallmark Channel on YouTube.

Final Thoughts

No matter which mantelpiece style you choose for your home, ensure it complements the rest of the décor and fits properly in your room.

A reclaimed wood mantel is ideal if you want an elegant, timeless look in your living room.

However, remember that reclaimed wood mantels are not fireproof and can crack or burn when exposed to direct fire or heat. Therefore, you must observe the necessary safety rules, like maintaining a fireplace clearance of at least 2 inches (51 mm).

Following the steps in this guide will help you install a reclaimed wood mantel to transform your home.

Due to the many factors to be considered, achieving a self-sustaining home is not a walk in the park. If you’re determined to attain this goal, here is an article detailing how to achieve a self-sustaining home.

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