Pinterest inspired fireplace and mantle

Just finished my wife’s Pinterest inspired fireplace and mantle, check it out!

Builders Square

Everything that comes "Standard" in most new homes is pretty much that, standard. So this is what i started with. Gas fireplace, 12'x12' Tiles, and walls.

I also love to listen to music when I work so I'll be sharing what songs I rocked out to while working.

*Note: I know it's polite to share the finished project picture first, but I like the suspense. You can always scroll to the bottom.

Begging for more

The fireplace in most houses is such a "Statement" and this was just getting lost.
1st of 6 total trips to Lowes.

Before I started, I spoke with my dad who was a general contractor his whole life and he recommended Poplar as my main building material. I decide that I would frame the mantle with pine underneath, then poplar as the facing material. I also knew tearing off the existing tile would make a mess of the drywall underneath so I bought a few pieces of 1/2" Gypsum to patch all the holes. I already owned most of the tools (Chop saw, drills, brad nailer, tile saw, etc) so that saved on the total expense.

As I was taught the trade from a young age, I decided to bring my son (6yo) with me. He mostly just spent our time at Lowes finding all the good hiding spots and "bases". We may have hid together and scared an old man but that's another TIFU story.

Also as the title suggested, the was the first of 6 trips in a few days span. Good thing Lowes is only a few minutes away.


I knew that building the actual mantle wouldn't be what my son was into but every kid likes destruction. I gave him a hammer at first but when he broke a tile and it landed on our hardwood floor, denting it, I decided that a more controlled demo day was in order. From then on, I then took every tile off slowly and with a pry bar and gave my son the job of scraping off all the "Chunks".

*Note, drop plastic is so key in all my projects. I just tend to make a mess with everything I do.

Music of choice: The Darkness, "I believe in a thing called love". Rocking out LOUD for demo-day.

Drywall repair

Like I said, Drywall was just screwed (no pun intended). So I used a hand saw to cut out even and level shapes and also made sure studs were exposed to screw the patches to. I had to be careful of the wire behind the wall which I didn't know was there until I caught it with the saw. Whoops…

Funny side note: Once the fireplace was exposed like this my 6yo looked at me, very serious and said, "How does Santa get through that tube?…." I had to explain that just like in the movie "The Santa Clause", the fireplace magically changes so he can just come through. No follow up questions meant I explained it good enough for now.

Music: "60's pop" AKA, Guardians of the Galaxy Spotify Playlist. Just because it's fun, you can sing along, and my kids were around.

Keeping a level head

Patched drywall is all finished. I mudded and sanded the joints but was probably unnecessary. But what was key was to make sure that the drywall was glued to the studs. With the weight of the marble tile I was going to use, I didn't want the drywall to be a weak point in the wall/project. I also added extra screws on the non-patched drywall just to be safe.

Next step is to create the frame of the mantle. I wanted to be able to screw the pine in the wall studs so I could make sure the mantle was secure. As the finished wood is only nailed on with small brads, the structure needs to be solid. Also, using a level is necessary in all steps!

Music: Marshmello "Alone"

Table saw…

One of my favorite tools is my dad's OLD (1980's?) Makita table saw that he gave me. It still works awesome. For the boards that were joined on the corners, I cut them at a 22.5 degree angle. This adds up to 45 which both would add up to 90. Simple math that took me 20 minutes of thinking to remember and a phone call to my dad.

Music: Jim Croce, Best of Jim album

Getting Framed

This was essentially the basic frame I created underneath. All I needed was pine to have my poplar nailed to and 2X4's and 1×4's did the job. I also created a few 2×2's by cutting my 2×4's in half with a chop saw. These were to continue the support for the top shelf and also needing to be small enough to be hidden by the crown molding.

Music: Lil Dicky's new album. My family left the house at this point so explicit music was prevalent.

Super girl looking on…

I knew the top shelf would need to be jointed with dowells and glue as there is really no other way to do this (I'm not good enough to do a dove-tail or anything fancy) so I used my dowell guide (pic below) and drill to create 1/4" holes in each cut end (cut was also 22.5 degrees). I used a 1×8 piece of poplar for the top shelf. I wish I would have used something a little thicker but this is what I had and it looks good still.

Patio furniture is a great worktable and for some reason, Colorado right now (October) has been 75-80F so working outside was perfect! My daughter also was "helping" by holding a block of wood I gave her. By letting your kids help with things, you will learn a lot about what they like and what they value (time, gifts, talking, etc).


A closer picture of the dowell drill bit guide and how I clamped the boards together. I'm sure there was a better way to clamp them, but I'm lacking in good clamps. Elmers Wood glue was also used. Skill was learned from my old man.
LIKE A GLOVE (sort of)

My first fitting of the top shelf was better than I had hoped. That whole "measure twice, cut once" adage gets lost sometimes when I work and I just get lucky.
Old school

Just a random picture of this old beast of a saw. New blade and yes, a home-light switch replacement for the original switch has this thing humming.
Jumping ahead

This is what the final un-touched wood product looked like. The hardest part about this project was cutting the crown molding. I cut it 10 times (and another trip to Lowes) before I figured how to make sure the angle was right and the cuts fit together. I also watched a Bob Vila video 3 times before I figured it out. Thank god for "This Old House".

Music: My own cursing and "This old house" clip playing over and over

Meet Brad Nailer

The best finish tool ever. Makes a pin prink of a hole and just makes trim, finished wood, etc look awesome. End of day #1.
The next day

I woke up ready to prime and paint so I put new plastic down and taped all my edges. I thought I would try and get away with just using a paint/primer combo but when speaking to my dad (remember, old school GC) so I took his advice and bought a paint primer. Glad I did as the final product looks SO smooth and finished.

Music in headphones: The Roots, Common, Jurassic 5, etc. Just a good mix of 90's hip hop. Headphones because the family was around.

Optimal Prime

Priming has begun. Go Jays.
Not sponsored by 3M WOOD FILLER

This product is SO MONEY. You can see that even after I "figured out" the crown molding, it wasn't perfect. This is where the wood fill comes in. Just spackle it in the grooves, let it dry, and sand it down. It truly makes you look like you know what the hell you are doing with wood based finish work.
All dolled up..

After I let the primer dry for 35+ hours, I painted the next night (hence the shop light). I used an oil-based paint that matched to color of our trim and laid it on think. I used a roller at first then put a 2nd coat on with a good quality brush.

Note: You REALLY get what you pay for with paint brushes. I don't think a weekend warrior like me needs to pay $25 for a brush but also don't go cheap. $10-15 will get you a brush that lasts a long time and is just so smooth.

Music while painting: Me First and the Gimme Gimmies, "Are a drag". A fun punk-style cover band that plays pop songs (i.e. Madonna and others) but punk rock style.

$20 a square foot

If this project wasn't expensive in the first place, my wife wanted to use a marble stone tile. Which was just under $20 sq/ft. At least I'm not paying somebody to install it….. I bought 15 12"x12" sheets and took two (2) back when I was finished.

This stuff was hard to work with. It is SUCH a soft stone that cutting it was really slow and tedious process. I have a wet tile saw with a brand new blade ($45!) and it was still chipping out when I'd make cuts. But the wife wants, she gets, and I just say "yes dear"…

The other difficult thing was this is a "grout-less" product. So any chips or joints that aren't perfect, just show like crazy. All cuts were triple measured, and cut slowly.

I used a pre-mixed mortar which I have used in the past. It seemed to work well (since my kitchen backsplash is still on the wall) so I decided to use it again.

Other tools: 1/4" trowell, putty knife, razor blade, and a wet towel.

Music: Trampled by Turtles, a bluegrass band which calmed me while I moved as slow as…. well, a turtle…

MY mistakes

After I was finished, all I did was notice my mistakes and imperfections. I called my wise old pops and he had a bit of wisdom to share. "99 out of 100 people will NEVER notice these imperfections. It will only be you, because you are so close to the process that they bother you. I can tell you this because for 50 years I've lived with it." I thought that was pretty deep and good advice.

So, Instead of keeping this advice to myself, I thought I'd share with the masses (that's you!)

The Final Countdown!

Me putting in the final piece in the tile work. (That thing hanging there is a painted "Ghost" that my 3yo gave me while I worked.) Home-made gifts are her passion.
I put her to work

I'm kind of terrible at touch up and precision painting so I enlisted my wife to help. She is awesome.

All done. Hope you like it!

Total cost was $640, 12-15 man hours, 6 trips to Lowes.

Source : IronmanTri140 from Reddit