Dear PoPville – Recommendations for Building a Mantle?

by Prince Of Petworth July 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm 19 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

My partner and I recently excavated the original fireplace in our row house and we’re now looking for someone to build us a mantle. It will need to be custom built since the dimensions of the fireplace are somewhat irregular. We are hoping that your readers could recommend someone who would do a great job crafting a nice painted wooden mantle for our fireplace. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”

  • Mr. Poon

    Not exactly what you’re looking for, but a suggestion nonetheless:

    Consider looking on Craigslist DC and Baltimore for old mantels — there are really cool ones all over from renovated row houses, especially in Baltimore. Then modify the size of the fireplace. That way you can use original materials and just pay to alter the fireplace, rather than keeping the fireplace as is and paying someone to build something faux-old from scratch, which I imagine would be much more expensive.

    • gk

      i agree with this. also, considering checking out an architectural salvage place like community forklift – there are often cool old mantels there of all sorts of shapes and sizes. a good way to get some character and authenticity.

      if you don’t want to do the salvage route, it looks like mantelsdirect.com does custom mantel sizes.

  • anon

    There’s the Mantle Hut, that’s on third…There’s Mantles-R-Us, that’s on third too…You got Put-Your-Stuff-There…They’re all in the same complex; it’s the hammock complex on third.

    • anon

      Doh! I meant Mantle complex! Ruined a perfectly good Simpsons quote!

  • Austin DC

    Check out Community Forklift too. They have tons of salvaged mantels of different sizes, and they are pretty darn cheap. Some of them are gorgeous old pieces. They also have a lot of other things like rough cut lumber that could be turned into a cool mantel if you didn’t want to go the traditional route.

  • TaylorStreetMan

    We haven’t used these guys (yet), but they seem like good craftsmen who know what they’re doing with historic homes. I’d love to hire them to build a front door for us, but haven’t priced them yet. Worth a look, maybe:


  • anon

    Not to hijack this thread, but does anyone have suggestions on how/where to replace the mirror in a mirrored mantel?

    I’ve got a mantel that’s in good shape, but the mirror in it has been covered with some kind of frosting thing. (I think the home inspector’s theory was that maybe it was the original mirror and had started to “go bad” in places, and that a previous owner’s solution was just to frost the whole thing over.)

    • Tres

      Apply hammer.

    • dreas

      Supposedly, most of these old mantels are hung on a bracket up near the top, with a few nails down each side holding it in place. Theoretically, you should be able to pry out the nails and lift the mantel straight up and off the bracket so you could access the back and remove the old mirror.

      Otherwise, you could break the one in there, pull the pieces out, get those suction cup thingies they use for mirrors and glass, and carefully maneuver the new mirror into place. Ours is missing a mirror altogether and appears to have been mortared into place at the bottom, so this is what we have been saying we’ll do (for the last 5 years).

      • dreas

        Also, my father-in-law swears that Home Depot will cut a mirror to your dimensions. I suspect that may be the case where he lives, but not necessarily on Rhode Island Ave, but it’s probably worth asking.

        • saf

          For glass/mirrors, I suggest Miles Glass on Piney Branch.

      • anon

        Thanks, Dreas!

  • Emmaleigh504

    What you need to do is invite General Lafayette over; he’ll bring you a mantle as a host/hostess gift.

  • dt

    No idea where to get a new, custom mantle (I suspect any good carpenter would be able to do it), but why do you want to paint it? A wooden mantle that’s actually wood colored looks fantastic!

  • anonymous

    no experience with mantles, but we had the craftsmen group partly restore/partly rebuild some windows for us and they did a great job and the pricing was pretty good.

  • cliff

    I am so jealous…

    I wish I could make that decision to buy 13oK over list.

  • jcm

    I just excavated a fireplace, too. If yours is like mine (a coal fireplace that’s tall, narrow, and shallow), you might try looking at The Victorian Fireplace Shop. They’re in Richmond, so you could probably drive down there and save on the shipping.

    I haven’t bought anything from them, so I can’t vouch for the quality, but their stuff looks interesting at least.

  • 13thStreetfan

    We did the same in a renovation project and because we wanted something similar to the era of our home we got lucky and found a great one on Craigslist. Brassknob has some options but measure your space correctly to see what can fit. Also if the mantel piece has been painted be prepare to strip off paint, which may or may not be lead-based. I just did a quick search on CL and found this.


  • Anonymous

    Mark Petherbridge with Victory Design & Woodworking


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