Replacing a mantel can greatly alter the look of an entire room. Often if you change the style of room, the mantel should be replaced to maintain the overall harmony of the room. This project can be accomplished if you have a basic understanding of tools and a weekend to devote to the job. Otherwise, hire a professional to do this home improvement.
Before replacing the old mantel, decide on the style and type of your new mantel. Some homeowners prefer mantels that come preassembled, others prefer to build their own. The decision will be made depending on your experience and comfort with woodworking. Be sure, no matter what option you choose, that you pick a new mantel that is appropriate in scale and style for the room.
Put on a pair of safety glasses before beginning this project. Begin by removing the trim around the mantel with a prybar. You may need to use a hammer to wedge the prybar between the trim and the wall.
Next, remove the remaining pieces of the mantle. Try to remove the top first, then you should be able to determine the best way of taking apart the rest of the mantle. Use the prybar and hammer to fully remove all of the pieces.
Often a mantel is mounted to the brick or masonry of the fireplace. Be sure to remove the pieces of the mantel that are attached to the masonry carefully so you do not damage the underlying structure. If you are unsure how to remove a specific type of attachment, such as an anchor, or even glue, research the best way to remove it.
After removing all parts of the mantel, make sure to do any repairs to the underlying structure before continuing. It is important to fix any underlying issues that may be causing heat loss in your home before continuing. Also, ensure that any cosmetic issues are repaired that may be seen after the installation of your new mantel.
Begin installation by mounting a 2×2 ledger board to hold your new mantel. Use a level before attaching your ledger board to the wall. If your fireplace is masonry, mount the board using lag screws in existing mortar joints. Check once again to make sure the ledger board is level and tighten down the board using the lag screws and a wrench.
Take the new mantel and install it by nailing into the ledger board. Use smaller finishing nails to attach it to the ledger board. Also install any trim that you would like to add to the mantel area. Fill in any resulting nail holes with wood putty. Sand down the areas that you have puttied until the area is not noticeable.
Now is the time to paint or otherwise finish the mantel to fit the rest of the decor. Tape around the newly installed mantel to protect the masonry before beginning any finishing. Consider applying several coats of polyurethane to protect the wood from any flying sparks when you use your fireplace.
Replacing a mantel is an easy task that can greatly influence the overall impact of the room. Choose the new mantel wisely and you will receive the benefit of your weekend project for years to come.