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Different Types of Fireplace Mantels

Just about everyone who has a fireplace in their home has a fireplace mantel. Fireplace mantels make fireplaces and adjacent hearths look “complete.” They also provide a nice place to display artwork, books, or collectibles, and if you celebrate Christmas, you’ll need one from which to hang the stockings with care! The fireplace and mantel are often the focal point of a room, so much thought should be put into choosing the right one for your decorating style.

Generally speaking, fireplace mantels are available in two main styles. The first is the mantel shelf. With this style, a shelf sits above the fireplace. The other style is the fireplace surround mantel. In this case, the mantel and surround are joined together and have three sides. One side extends above the fireplace, and the other two sides flank the fireplace itself, generally running from the base of the hearth up to the mantel shelf.

Mantels and surrounds can be made from many different materials. The most popular are natural woods, including oak, birch, alder, hemlock, maple, Walnut, pine, Douglas fir, cherry, poplar, and an Asian hardwood called Choi. The wooden mantels and surrounds can be stained or painted. Some of the fireplace mantels are solid wood, and some are veneers.

Wooden mantels and surrounds are usually the least expensive type, especially the paint grade products. A mantel made of wood with an attractive natural grain can be stained instead of painted, but these are more expensive than the paint grade wooden mantels. One advantage of painted mantels, other than the price, is the fact that they can be painted to match any décor. They can also be distressed or treated with a crackle glaze and are great options for do-it-yourself projects.

Fireplace mantels and surrounds are also available in cast stone and gypsum. These are often more expensive than wood mantels, but they’re very durable and will last for decades, if not longer. Other stones used in the construction of fireplace mantels are sandstone, limestone, and travertine. An advantage of stone fireplace mantels and fireplace surrounds is their natural heatproof and fireproof characteristics.

The most expensive type of mantels and surrounds are made of marble. Most of these are hand carved, one at a time, and are true works of art. The price tag reflects this: this type of surround and mantel costs thousands of dollars.

When it comes to style, homeowners have an entire spectrum from which to choose. Someone with a log cabin might prefer a rough-hewn beam as a rustic mantel, and log fireplace mantels are also available. Someone with a more formal décor may prefer a fireplace mantel with intricate scrollwork. Other popular styles include Early American, country French, Napoleon, Versailles, Louis XIV, traditional, and contemporary. A carved statue surround and adjoining mantel are very ornate pieces that often display lions’ heads, chariots, or Greek and Roman deities.

Homeowners also have the option of having a fireplace mantel custom made to their specifications. By choosing this option, you’ll be able to decide on the style, size, and construction material yourself instead of choosing one from a showroom. You can have a truly unique, one-of-a-kind fireplace mantel that no one else has.

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Wooden fireplace mantels and surrounds can be painted to match any decor.

Wooden fireplace mantels and surrounds can be painted to match any decor.

A walnut mantel and surround in an Early American design.

A walnut mantel and surround in an Early American design.


Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 24, 2010:

Haha! Thanks, Maita. Hubby helps with most of these home-improvement hubs!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 24, 2010:

Quildon, I usually use push pins to hold up the stockings. You can also find stocking holders - heavy figurines with hooks for holding the stockings. Sometimes you can find these at the Dollar Tree!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 24, 2010:

So true, Michael!

prettydarkhorse from US on February 22, 2010:

you can write anyhting under the sun and inside the home-fireplace, thanks habee, Maita

Angela Joseph from Florida on February 22, 2010:

Scroll to Continue

I love my fireplace too. The first Christmas we spent in the house, I hung the stockings from the mantle using a type of tape that was supposed to hold, but the stockings came down one by one a few minutes after. I never put them up after that. Any solutions, habee?

Michael Shane from Gadsden, Alabama on February 22, 2010:

Nothing like the sound of a crispy fire cracklin fireplace! Great Hub!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

Thanks you for your kind words, Teresa!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

Audrey, we have an outside fireplace. If you put one on your deck, lay some tile under it first!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

Glad you stopped by, Fester!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

Thanks for reading, Pam!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

Sis, you could always add one!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

I agree, Veronica. They just make a room so homey!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

Ethel, we'll have to make room for another stocking next Christmas!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 22, 2010:

Hi, HH! How are you?

ladyjane1 from Texas on February 21, 2010:

I live in an apartment but I do have a fireplace and the mantel is the center of attraction in my apartment. Nice pictures.

Maria Teresa Rodriguez - Laurente from San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. on February 21, 2010:

I love mantels in homes. Its a conversation piece, it is a place to lay out your favorite nick-knacks, and so on and so forth. Thank you habee, I saw your great reviews in my weekly email. Congratulations. I see you have so many important message here that you share. More power.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on February 21, 2010:

I miss having my fireplace - here in Prinetucky we have too many windows and barely can fit our furniture around. I wonder if I could put one out on the deck? Great info - now I'm gonna be sad about not having the fireplace but I guess just one more thing to clean.

Daniel Christian from Los Angeles, CA on February 21, 2010:

Nice hub. I want a fireplace! I rent an apt without one presently.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 21, 2010:

Very nice. I love my fireplace and the mantle. It was in place when we bought the house but I wouldn't change it. Thanks for an interesting hub.

Angela Blair from Central Texas on February 21, 2010:

Great Hub -- just wish I had a fireplace! Best, Sis

Veronica Allen from Georgia on February 21, 2010:

There's something about a fireplace and fireplace mantel that just brings so much warmth to any room.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on February 21, 2010:

Aw all those stockings. Good Hub. We bought a new fire surround etc a couple of years ago. It makes a great focal point

Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 21, 2010:

Lovely hub. Thank you.

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