Old, Ugly Fireplace? Make it Pretty and New for Cheap! Part 1 – Building a Mantle

Something had to be done about that old, ugly fireplace. It was an antique wood color, which doesn’t go with anything else in my house. There was no mantle. It had brass accents. And it had absolutely no character, whatsoever. It was an eyesore.

When we first moved into the house the first thing we did was mount our TV to the wall, above the fireplace. We had to get if off the floor, to keep it from being broken or drawn on by the kiddos.

But putting the TV up there really didn’t do much for the way the fireplace looked, it just took the focal point of the room away from it a little.

If I was going to do anything to the fireplace, I had a list of must-haves.

  • Mantle
  • Hidden TV wires
  • Cover the ugly wood color.
  • No brass
  • Make it beautiful (of course)

I scoured the internet for ideas and found this tutorial about how to make a mantle, and based my mantle off of theirs.

Part 1 Building a Mantle

Supply List:

  • 1 4×4 (8ft at Lowes for $6.97)
  • 4 1/2in x 3in Galvanized Steel Lag Bolt (Lowes for $2 each)
  • 1 3/4 in Spade Bit or something else to create countersinks.
  • 1 1x10in board for the top (8ft at Lowes for $24.94)
  • 2 1x6in board for the skirting (8ft at Lowes for $8.12 each)
  • 1 crown molding of your choice (Mine was from Lowes 8ft for $14.96)
  • 1 molding for top mantle (Mine was from Lowes 8ft for $2.09)
  • 3in galvanized nails (Lowes 1lbs box for $3.87)
  • Finishing nails or Brad Nailer (we already had a brad nailer)
  • Miter saw (you could simply have Lowes cut all your wood to the correct lengths, but I don’t they’d cut the molding)
  • Wood filler
  • Sander or just paper
  • Paint

Only about $80!


First I measured the current molding of my fireplace and subtracted the width of the boards I would be using for skirting.


I wanted my mantle to look like it was all one piece, so measuring correctly was very important.

My husband then cut the 4×4 to the appropriate length.

Now find your studs inside the wall, and drill pilot holes in the center of the stud. 3 or 4 would be best.

Measure them and mark your 4×4 accordingly. (We used a piece of masking tape to simplify this process)

Drill pilot holes and countersinks for your lag bolts.


Secure 4×4 to the wall.

Now you need to figure out how long you want the top part of your mantle to be, how much overhang you want on the sides. I only wanted about 4 inches. You may want more.

Cut the 110 board to your desired length and attach it to the top of the 44 with the 3-inch nails.

Make sure its level, both left to right and front to back. You may need some shims to make this happen. I didn’t.


Now add the molding for the sides of the top of the mantle, my molding was very simple so I just used butt joints.

(Sorry, no picture but you can see the added molding in the next few pictures.)

Next is to attach the skirting to the 4×4.

I added the sides first so the front wouldn’t have any joints visible.

Now add the bottom/under part of the skirt.

We thought it would be fun to turn this section into a time capsule of sorts. So my husband and I both put in something that meant something to us. I put in a moose, and he put in a pair of Apple headphones. I also wrote the names of everyone in our family on the wall.

Then we closed up the time capsule by attaching the front of the skirt.

Now sand the crap out of it. Not really, but just make any/all the ridges disappear.

The next step is a little tricky Cutting the crown molding

But here is a website to help. And another one. And one more.


Even after all those crown molding tutorials, we still didn’t quite have it right.


Luckily, after some wood filler, sandpaper, and finagling it turned out ok.


Fill all other nail holes, ridges, and sand again.

At this point, if all you wanted a new mantle you could paint this and be done!

But I wasn’t done…

Stay Tuned for Step 2, Board and Batten.



One thought on “Old, Ugly Fireplace? Make it Pretty and New for Cheap! Part 1 – Building a Mantle

  1. […] Now that I have a mantle I can finish my fireplace makeover, and finally start loving my den. [̷... makingthishousemyhome.com/boardbatten

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