An American Dream

Bricks & Fire.

It has been on my mind a lot lately. I want a fireplace mantel! When we first moved in there was a golden oak shelf style mantel hung way to high with an unframed mirror sitting on top of it, also a bit dirty. It was visually awkward. See..

*Not my decor, pictures from the real estate ad!

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 The golden oak did nothing against the reddish browns of the brick, it was too small and the mirror cut the fireplace in half.  So I took it down. The mirror is over the couch now, on a wall that catches the only tiny bit of sunlight this room gets. About to be framed (More on that soon!) The mantel got a coat of white paint and was used in the formal dinning room  for the last 2 years.


Now during this time I had dreams of building a grand surround and mantel, but never have the $ or time. Hummm, Think I needed to be thinking outside of the box. Or back in it.

So one fine morning I drank way to much coffee. The house was already clean from yesterdays obsessive coffee induced scrub-fest and I wanted something to do.  I stood in my formal living room zoned into the back wall. It hit me, I can put the mantel back on and add a larger chunk of wood to it later to fit the scale of the fireplace. Just like that I was already removing the decor and  dusting everything off.

The came the fun part, asking the husband to drill into the brick. Asking him to work when he don’t want to is like picking up a turd by the clean end. So it sat for a few days.  That was my motivation to start it on my own. I did some research and came across these fine points, please check with your states codes of this, You are hanging something flammable over a big box of fire in your home, do it right!


mortar will crumble, it is not strong enough to hold the weight of a mantel and over time it will crumble, crack and loosen. The brick is stronger, and with a bit of concrete and paint you can patch it!

2. Know how high it has to be hung!


3. Use chalk to mark your measurements. It wipes off!

Drilling the brick

1.On a fully charged battery, use the proper sized masonry drill bits for the size screw you are using.

           2.  Go slow and steady. Let the drill do the work.

          3. Hold your drill level. Wiggling will crack the brick apart.

4.  Start with your center hole! Once your hole in done, add the correct sized anchor for your screws.

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Next, we took the wood ledge that originally held the mantel on the fireplace and loosely screwed it into the center hole, make sure you can spin it like an aircraft propeller, so you can move it for leveling, marking and drilling the holes. After you find level, mark your side holes. You can do this by tapping the brick with the screws and leaving a small dent. Then move the wood out of the way and drill the holes out. Add anchors and then screw the wood down. Easy! Took all of 5 minutes.

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Screwing it down

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The wood was a little bit bowed. So we used cardboard drywall shims and straightened it right up. We did glue them down so they would not move when we were attaching the mantel.

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Slip on the mantel, and screw it down. We used the original holes and made sure the screws were flush with the mantel.

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I do have future plans of adding a larger chunk of wood on top that will make the mantel reach past the brick on the sides, and wrap back to the drywall.

All Done!

White Mantel, Red Brick Fireplace

White Mantel, Red Brick Fireplace

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White Mantel, Red Brick Fireplace

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White Mantel, Red Brick Fireplace

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White Mantel, Red Brick Fireplace

What do you think? I dig it!

So, I know you are all wondering what happened to the wall that the mantel once rested? Lots of furniture sliding, but that’s another post.


2 responses

  1. susan e

    Hi, can you tell me what paint color you used on your walls? Dealing with a dark red fireplace here myself, also with no mantel. 😉

    February 3, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    • Hi! I used “contemplation” by bher 😉 love that color! It’s my go to paint!

      August 13, 2014 at 10:51 am

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