I love the look of a floating mantel! I knew I wanted to do a floating mantel DIY, but when I sat down to figure out how to install a wood beam as a fireplace mantle, I was a little stumped. There weren’t really any tutorials that I found online showing how to attach a mantel to a brick fireplace, so I had to figure it out on my own. Luckily, it was fairly easy!
How to Install a Floating Mantel – The Easy Way!
So, full confession – I had to call my dad for help on this one. Fireplace mantel installation was a little above my skillset. 🙂 My dad was kind enough to come to help Scott hang the wood mantle while I snuck out with my mom. Ironically, even though our entire house is in some sort of remodeling state or another, I told them that the wooden mantle was my number one request. Glad to report that it’s worth it! Here’s how to install a floating mantel!
Supplies Needed to Install a Floating Mantel
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- Wood beam (we got ours at a local home salvage store)
- Skilsaw to cut beam length to size if needed
- Drill (we used the Dewalt cordless drill)
- Masonry drill bits
- Lag bolts & shields set – I recommend 2″ long at least
- Liquid nails and caulking gun
- White caulk and caulking gun
- Long level
How to Install a Floating Mantel – Directions
Once you have your supplies gathered, it’s time to get your floating mantel DIY on. Let’s do this! Keep in mind, this tutorial is specifically for how to install a floating mantel on a brick fireplace, but the techniques could be used for another type if you alter the directions.
How to Install a Floating Mantel – Step One
Start by removing the old wooden mantle. If you are lucky (?) and have an old house like us, it will be really easy to do. A few swings of a sledgehammer and the wood mantle was gone. See ya later!
How to Install a Floating Mantel – Step Two
Once you have the old mantel off, it’s time to add the new one! This step will depend on how your old mantel was hung. Since there were already holes at the far ends from where the old mantle had been hung before, they decided to use those holes and measure out additional holes across the stretch where the new wooden mantle would be. They predrilled 2″ long holes into the brick, using the 5/16 masonry drill bit, then pushed lag shields into the holes.
Ever wonder what a lag bolt is used for? Yeah, me either. But they are crucial for fireplace mantel installation. The Lag shields were also important to have because once they are placed in the predrilled hole, a lag bolt is able to slip inside of them and be tightened, ensuring that they won’t fall out when a heavy wood mantel is installed on it. The lag shield itself looks like this when installing:
They ended up installing 5 lag bolts all together to ensure the weight was evenly distributed. The more the merrier in this case!
How to Install a Floating Mantel – Step Three
Once your lag bolts are in place, it’s time to prep your wood mantle for installation. Now it’s time to measure and drill holes into the back of the mantle so they match up with the brick bolts. Measure VERY carefully—you want the lag bolts from the brick and the holes in the wooden mantle to be lined up perfectly so the mantle can just slide into place.
Of course, they measured perfectly and the brick bolts matched right up! The holes were super tight (which is good) so they ended up spending about 20 minutes or so getting the mantle pushed in.
My dad had the super smart idea of getting a piece of scrap wood (surprise there’s a pile in like every room of our house!) and holding it against the mantle and hitting it with a sledgehammer. They would hammer one side about an inch in, then the other, then the middle, then back to the other side and so on until it was almost all the way pushed in.
Since they were hammering the scrap wood, not the mantle, there was no damage at all.
They also used liquid nails in the holes the bolts were going into so there was extra insurance that it would stay put. Scott said they used an entire bottle on those five holes! That mantle is not going anywhere!!!
Of course, they made sure it was perfectly level before, during and after installation! 🙂
Once it was proven level and super sturdy (trust me, that floating mantle isn’t going anywhere!) dad finished off the seal with white caulk so the seam would be pretty (my words not his :P).
Then there was pondering and admiring the beauty of the beam turned mantle. Scott was serious and manly. I, on the other hand, might have kissed it secretly. I definitely did some happy dances. And decorated that floating mantle as soon as I possibly could!
Frequently Asked Questions About This Project
I’ve gotten a ton of questions about this project in my inbox, so I’m updating this post to address them all in one place. If you have another question that isn’t answered below, leave it in the comments and I’ll get back to you.
How to Install a Heavy Wood Mantel?
Your brick or stone fireplace is more than capable of holding the weight of a heavy wood mantel. Here are a few additional tips to help you install a heavy wood mantel:
- Use lag bolts in conjunction with lag shields that are at least 2″ long
- Add more support by increasing the amount of lag bolts. A good rule of thumb is one bolt every 10 inches.
- Buy the proper tools. You will need a drill, masonry bit, lag bolts and wood glue.
How to Install a Mantel
Every single step on how to install a floating fireplace mantle is laid out in this post. To sum it up, here are the quick steps to take if you are trying to figure out how to install a mantel:
- Remove the old mantel
- Add support by drilling holes for lag shields, then install lag bolts into the brick
- Measure carefully and drill corresponding holes for the wood mantel
- Push the wooden mantel carefully into place using wood glue for extra support
- Caulk the seam and allow time to dry before using
How Tall is a Fireplace Mantel?
54” above the hearth is the standard height for a fireplace mantel, but how high you hang a fireplace mantel will vary depending on your fireplace and your personal preferences.
How Do You Float a Fireplace Mantel?
The best way I know how to do it is to use lag bolts and lag shields drilled both into the brick fireplace and the wooden mantel. See above. 🙂
(Special thanks to my dad and Scott for their hard work and for all the photos!)