Fireplace Update

Today I want to share with you my fireplace update.  This is an easy DIY with a big impact.  When we moved into our builder grade home we had a little oak fireplace on a very large wall.  While I was thankful to have a fireplace, it was just too small.  I decided to paint it white many years ago, but it still looked a bit off to me.  Finally, after tackling a few other woodworking projects, I decided to update our fireplace.  Here it is today.

How to build an over-mantel.

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I’ll show you how to do this simple project, including materials and tools.



  • (3) Common Board – 1 x 8 x 6
  • (1) Common Board – 1 x 6 x 6
  • (3) Chair Rail 9/16 x 2-5/8 x 8
  • (1) Crown Molding 3-1/8″ x 3-1/2″ x  94-1/2″
  • (2) Panel Molding 5/16″ x 11/16″ x 8″

Measure & Cut

  1. Decide how wide you want your over-mantel to be.  I based my measurement on the width of the bottom of the mantel, mine is 5 feet long.  Then measure the height from the top of your mantel to the ceiling.  My measurement 4 feet by 2 and 3/4 inches.
  2. Cut your 1 x 8 x 6 to the width of your bottom mantel.  My width was 5 feet.  Repeat this cut for the top of your rectangle.
  3. Cut the remaining 1 x 6 x 6 to the height that works with your space.  My initial rectangle measures 3 feet by 6 and 1/2 inches tall.  Then I backed out the 14 1/2 inches for the top and bottom boards (each board is 7.25″ wide) which left my cut measurement at 2 feet 4 inches.  Cut your left and right boards to this measurement.
  4. Sand all four boards and attach them to your wall with a brad nailer.
  5. Cut the 1 x 6 to the same length (5 feet).  Sand it and attach it to the top of the rectangle.

How to build a DIY Fireplace Overmantle with white wood moldings.

Add Decorative Moldings

  1. Cut the chair rail molding on a 45 degree angle to match the outside height of your rectangle (my measurement was 3 feet 6 1/2 inches).
  2. Then cut the chair rail on a 45 degree angle to match the outside width of your rectangle (my measurement was 5 feet).
  3. Attach the chair rail to the outside of the rectangle with a brad nailer.
  4. Cut the panel molding on a 45 degree angle to match the inside height of your rectangle (my measurement was 2 feet 4 inches).
  5. Cut the panel molding on a 45 degree angle to match the inside width of your rectangle (my measurement was 3 feet 9 1/2 inches).
  6. Attach the panel molding to the inside front of the rectangle.
  7. Cut your crown molding upside down to match your 5″ top board.  Then cut your returns.  For more details on cutting crown molding see this post.
  8. Attach your crown molding with brad nails into the top cap.  Attach your returns with wood glue (hold in place with painters tape) or a glue gun.

Finishing Touches

  1. Use your putty knife to fill all holes and knots with wood filler.
  2. Use your caulk gun to fill and smooth all gaps.  Let the caulk dry.
  3. Prime all boards with Zinsser Cover Stain.  This keeps the knots from bleeding through your paint.
  4. Choose a trim paint that matches the trim in your home.  I use Behr Snowy Pine in Satin.


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How to build an over-mantel.
DIY Fireplace Update Over-mantel

Now step back and enjoy your beautiful new mantel.  This is seriously my favorite home project to date.  It really brought my living room together and made my fireplace the main focal point.  I hope you enjoy this fireplace update as much as I do!



    1. Hi Henry. Thank you for your question. I did paint the entire mantel and over-mantel with Behr Snowy Pine including the inside of the rectangle, which is just drywall.

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