Hand-built Fireplace Mantels

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Hand-built fireplace mantels are a rewarding project, to say the very least. The fireplace, after all, is the focal point of the room. Cooking has fled to the kitchen and heating has moved (usually) to the basement furnace. Nonetheless, as a design element, the fireplace is still very powerful as a design element in interior decor. Your work will be noticed. It will set the tone for the room and perhaps your house. The quality of a hand-built fireplace mantel is character and class in and of itself.

If you're a purist and a woodworker, you might want to start with wooden planks. That's a daunting but impressive project. More within the reach of most of us are kits for hand-built fireplace mantels. The usual fireplace mantel kits for the handyman homeowner have at least four pieces: two legs, the shelf, and the crest. Depending on the intricacy of the design you select, there can be more.

Hand-Built Fireplace Mantels: Step One

The first and most important step to installing hand-built fireplace mantels is measuring the fireplace. Get that wrong and you have a problem that will be--unless you're especially creative--a headache to work around. A fireplace is, at its most basic, a hole in the wall. The firebox is the fireproof material that lines this hole in the wall. All measurements are in relation to the firebox.

You need to check your local building code for any restrictions and specifications before you go any further. Whatever the code stipulates, you must follow. There's a reason beyond the fine and the cost of adhering to it after the fact. It's safety.

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