How to build a fireplace mantel with MDF boards

Why buy a new mantel when you can build one yourself with MDF?

Having a nice, cozy fireplace in your living room or sitting room is surely a great idea, because it serves as a focal point in the room. There is no denying that a fireplace however costs money. You might never have decided to install one simply because of the relatively high cost. However, what if you were to build one yourself? You would be able to save a good amount of money if you were to build the fireplace mantel using MDF boards cut to size, which are really affordable.

MDF boards are bought as sheets and there are different sizes and thicknesses to choose from. Make sure you plan in advance so as to cut the smaller parts in advance. You will not need very large boards for some parts of the mantel, and you can have some cut down into manageable sizes when you go shopping for them.

Beautiful Fireplace Mouldings. Image Credit:
Beautiful Fireplace Mouldings. Image Credit: Inviting Home

Moreover, you can also buy crown moulding and small cove moulding, so as to add additional detail to the plain body of the mantel. These can be used for the edges. You will also be able to find screen moulding for inset panels. These ornate details will make a huge difference in the final look of the mantel. You will be able to choose your favourite special ornate touches from a nice range in most stores.

Obviously, you will need to plan in advance so as to adjust the general dimensions according to their dimensions. For instance, you may need to change the width of the capitals, and that of the pilasters accordingly. These adjustments will depend on their respective sizes and your preferences too. It is a good idea to draw up your fireplace mantel and write down the proposed dimensions. Then, go to the store to take a look at the selection of mouldings, and take into account the sizes of the ones that you like, by taking into account your drawing. Your fireplace mantel will need to be adjusted according to these details, as well as your space.

Other than that you can then move on to the construction phase, which is quite straightforward. First off, this is ultimately a surround, which is composed of two pillars, and an MDF box beam header.

You can start cutting the front and the sides of the pillars out of the MDF boards. You can drill pocket holes on the back of the front piece right away, so as to connect the sides to it later with pocket screws, and some glue too.

Next you will need to cut supports. At least three supports for every pillar are recommended. You can simply use a pocket hole jig so as to drill the pocket holes on the ends of the supports, and then attach to the top, the bottom, and the middle of the pillar. Cut another piece to secure it to the bottom of the front piece. Mitres can be cut so as to be attached around the edges with brad nails and glue. Any part that may be sticking out will later be covered up with cove moulding, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Next, start cutting the trim pieces, which will be used on the front of the pillars. At this point you are quite a good way along. Fill up the brad nail holes with woody putty and sand it. The next step revolves around the MDF box beam. So, cut the bottom, the front and the sides, and attach them to one another as explained before. Later, the back support can be attached, as you will need to fasten this onto the wall.

So, as you can see it was really simple. The pillars are attached to the wall vertically. Then the pillar is placed over and secured with screws. And finally the MDF box beam is screwed down to the pillars and to the wall. Any mouldings that you choose to add can be glued or nailed in place. These will add a unique touch to your fireplace mantel, and you can be as creative as you like. For instance you can make a panelled frieze for a more rustic look. Federal period mouldings are also a popular selection as they have finer and more delicate features, which make your fireplace stand out even more. If you want to make a hood too, make sure to sketch the profile in order to facilitate the decision of the capital hood dimensions according to the other dimensions. Ultimately, the sky is your limit in building your fireplace mantel actually! As you can see it is really quite easy to build your own DIY fireplace mantel with MDF boards and you can make it exactly as you wish! Once done, paint it up and sit there to enjoy the unique cosy ambiance it creates!