When it comes to an adaptable home improvement material that works well across a range of styles and situations, very few items can compete with stone. That's the case for fireplace mantels: The type of stone can meld itself perfectly to diverse decorating motifs. Whether you're remodeling an existing mantel or adding a new one, there are a few things to consider before choosing a stone mantel.
What types of stone can be used for a fireplace mantel?
There are several materials that can give you the look of a stone mantel. They include:
- Natural stone: Virtually any type of stone -- limestone, quartz, granite, to name just a few -- can be used for a fireplace mantel. These mantels have a rich, authentic look and feel but may be very heavy and require careful installation.
- Faux stone: Faux stone is a man-made material that's cast in a mold to closely resemble a natural stone fireplace. These are generally less expensive than natural stone mantels and tend to weigh less, too.
- Veneer: A veneer stone fireplace mantel is made of a thin layer of stone that's attached to a base material. This type of stone fireplace mantel is also lighter, so it is less difficult to install and also less expensive than a natural stone mantel.
What are some stone mantel considerations?
Before you choose a material for your stone mantel, plan accordingly, and consider these factors.
- Get a sample. Most stone supply stores will have extra pieces that you can borrow. Samples make it easier to evaluate color and finish with your home's existing decor.
- Remember weight. Real stone is likely to be heavy, while veneer will be lighter. Either way, your installation will need to account for supporting the stone mantel so it doesn't fall off or crack.
- Investigate finish. Some stone mantels will be sealed, making them less likely to stain and more likely to repel dirt. Others will need periodic upkeep as well as re-sealing.
- Plan for size and proportion. A remodel or new installation will impact how easy it is for you to judge the size and proportion of your stone fireplace mantel. For a mantel replacement, evaluate whether the length and depth of the existing piece worked, or whether it needs adjustment. For a new stone mantel, use painters tape to mark out the proposed mantel size and placement on the fireplace. Individual preferences vary, but plan to leave about a foot between the top of the fireplace box and the bottom of the mantel. To determine the mantel's length, double the fireplace box width for a total that feels visually pleasing.
- Building codes. Many municipalities have specific regulations regarding fireplace mantel placement and size. For example, a mantel may not touch a windowsill or doorway.