Fake it 'til you make it!

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

A DIY tutorial about how to build a faux fireplace using a thrifted mantle.

There are many different tutorials for how to build a faux fireplace. But since Harrison and I have discovered (and come to terms with) the fact that we are no Chip and Joanna Gaines... we had to combine all of them and create our own - simple solution that worked for our space!

Almost finished - before final coat!

In order to have a focal beneath the TV we wanted to install outside... I wanted to add a built-in, permanent fireplace! After looking at a bunch of faux options and what to put in the middle... I decided to install a Succulent Wall in the insert. Honestly, I LOVE it!

Our biggest challenge was the stone wall. We discovered quickly, drilling to the wall to make the fireplace permanent was NOT easy. But let's start at the beginning! The best instruction post I found that was closest to what I needed is here. But even still - they were too advanced for our skill level. We don't even have a saw... so all our boards had to be measured and cut at Lowes when we purchased the boards.

Supplies used:

  • Ready-made mantel from Facebook Marketplace

  • 1 Plywood Sheet for base

  • 5 (cut to size) 2x4 boards for base

  • 6 (cut to size) 2x4 boards for frame attachment

  • 2 (cut to size) pre-treated 1x4 boards

  • 1 mantle piece (should be the same thickness of your mantle)

  • Wood Screws

  • Tape Measure

  • Power Drill

1. Locate a fire place mantle you like that is the right measurement and size. I found mine on Facebook Marketplace. It was an antique fireplace front for $100 (over 150 years old from a home in Kentucky they remodeled). The mantle was actually involved in a house fire - so a lot of the finish had bubbled up in the heat of the flames. So we had quite a bit of work stripping the wood and standing it to make it even. Harrison is also a stickler for seams and nail holes. So he used wood putty to fill all the holes to make the face perfect!

2. Create the Base first. Measure how wide and deep you want the frame to be. We had lanterns we wanted to fit on the base - so we measured how wide deep they would need to be. We got 2x4's cut (2) 58" long, and (5) cut at 16" long.

NOTE: Make sure the long piece goes on the outside edge so you don't see the seem from the front.

Photo credit to : Bless'er House

Then you want to center the "Wall side" to the wall and use LARGE screws to attach it directly to the wall. Below is the image from the blog I used - link here.

3. We selected a really smooth piece of birch plywood and got it cut slightly larger on 3 sides for the overhang. Then screwed it on top of the frame in the four corners; slightly over screw them into the wood so that you can wood putty over the flat screw head to hide the screws. Congratulations! Your base is done... if you really are wonderful, you can add some 1/4 round shoe molding around the base to make it look more professional.

4. Next, you will add a 3 piece frame to the wall, and to the back of your mantle. Before you do this - you will need to decide what your siding will be. We used pre-treated wood 1x4's for the sides and then a nice oak 1" thick piece to match our mantle. Whatever you select, you will need to know the exact width of the panels....

Did you know... 2x4's aren't actually 2"x4"?

Below are images from this blog - but they still applied for us! See how they left a small edge frame on all 3 sides on the mantle?

5. Then we used the pre-treated/pre-painted pine 1x4s to attached the mantle to the wall. This definitely is a two person job. The below image is from the other blog. Make sure the edge of your panel is as flush as possible with your mantle front. You want to putty as little as possible.

Photo credit to : Bless'er House

6. You will do the same concept for the top of the mantle! Screw them slightly too deep, so you can fill the hole with putty to make it smooth!

At this point, your mantle should be pretty much taking shape, and should definitely be standing on it's own! Time to fill any holes, seams, screw heads, etc. Then sand! Make sure everything is smooth and perfect before you paint!

Once you paint, you can fill the insert with faux wood, candles, etc. Or you can read the next blog to find out how to build your own succulent wall!

Thanks for reading!

Let me know if you have any questions!

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