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Builder Grade Fireplace Makeover

by | Nov 22, 2019 | Uncategorized

The mantle in a home is usually one of the main focal points in a family gathering space.  What if you have a builder grade option in your home that is an eyesore to your style and sacrifices the comfort of your home?!  You are in luck, Shannon will show you below just how she made the change in her own home, and it is amazing!

Typically, there is a build out structure that includes trimming, accents and a shelf. Everything needs to be removed, down to the base structure. This should leave only the top half and bottom half surround.

You may get lucky and have a gap in between the top structure and bottom structure, which is what my shelf fit perfectly inside. If you don’t have that gap, your box may just require a little more support in the end, but can still mimic this look. 

It will take some reconstruction work after you have removed all of that boring builder grade junk that includes sanding down the base where any damage occurred during the removal. I would suggest an 80 grit as a first run. Once you have sanded it down, you will need to layer two or three coats of spackle over the surface. 

Once this dries, use a 150-220 grit palm sander to smooth it back out. Be sure to vacuum and wipe every bit of dust off before moving on to the painting part. If you think it doesn’t look smooth, do another layer until you do.

Do not paint directly over your spackle. You must use a primer so that it looks smoother and cleaner. 

Building your mantle: This is done as a separate build that is later attached to the fireplace base. 

  1. Measure the length that your mantel will be, carefully considering any corners and the depth you will need the mantel to fit into. Note:  I chose to use a 1×8 size for the top piece and 1×6 for the front piece so that after the shelf went into the crack, I still had enough depth space to place things on my mantle.
  2. You will build a half box with the top and front pieces being exactly the same cut length, but different widths. 
  3. The side pieces will be cut to fit inside the half box as seen in the photos. Use wood glue and nail gun for assembly.
  4. Your underside piece of wood width will vary depending on what you need to work around, but should the same length as the rest of the half box. See photos below. 
  5. Test your fit! If it is perfect, then move on to the next steps.
  6. Sand down the entire build smooth and dust off.
  7. Paint or stain. We used a provincial color minwax stain. 
  8. Paint your surrounding base as we did here. You will see, I started with a navy, and decided I didn’t love it, and went to grey.
  9. Determine where you can screw the box securely into the remaining fireplace base. Our screws went into the top down. The brackets offer just a little more support.

  1. The way you build the underside of your box will vary depending on your mantle. As you can see with ours, we needed there to be a space to account for the fireplace base. It does not need to be perfectly matched up flush, but at least enough to hold the tops of your corbels. (see photo)
  2. We did need to add a spacer for the space between the remaining fireplace base and the thickness of our box so that when it slid into the space, the gap was lifted. 
  3. Stain your brackets to match your new mantle or any color you wish!


Supply List: 

Wood Brackets, Provincial Stain, Paint Color- SW Urban Bronze, Spackle, Wood- 1×6 & 1×8 Eastern Pine- Any wood can be used        (may contain affiliate links)

Let us know if you tackle this project yourself! We would love to see your own style at work!


Shannon and Misty - Founders
Darby Copeland - Director of Franchise Operations
Amy Johnson - Lead Designer