How to Install a Fireplace Mantelshelf


A fireplace mantelshelf is a shelf designed to look like a mantle but install like a simple shelf. Mantelshelves are available in many traditional styles as well as modern and transitional styles. The shelves are designed for homeowner installation, and often only a few tools are required to assemble and install the shelf. This type of shelf, like most shelves, has weight limitations and is not designed to carry the weight of heavy objects. Properly installed, the shelf can support light decorative items and provide an additional emphasis on your fireplace as the focal point of the room.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Fireplace mantelshelf
  • Nailer board
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Masonry anchors (optional)
  • Masonry nails or screws (optional)
  • Liquid nails (optional)
  • Wood glue
  • Drill
  • Finish nails
  • Screws
  • Wood fill
  • Measure the width of your fireplace. Often mantels and shelves will extend beyond the fire box by as much as 12 inches on either side. The distance above the fire box also should be about 12 inches. If the fire box is very small, you might need to use a more narrow shelf and lift it further above the top of the fire box. Test sizes by cutting a piece of cardboard and positioning it where you think the shelf will fit.

  • Remove the nailer board. This is usually tucked into the back of the shelf in packaging. This nailer board attaches to the fireplace wall using wall anchors or screwing directly into studs.

  • Locate the studs in the wall using a stud finder. Mark these locations with a small pencil mark. Position the nailer board on the wall using a level. Screw the nailer board directly into the studs. If you have a masonry wall, use masonry wall anchors, masonry nails or screws and liquid nails to attach the nailer board.

  • Apply wood glue to the top edge of the nailer board. Slide the fireplace mantelshelf over the nailer board. Drill pilot holes through the shelf and into the nailer board at a 45-degree angle. Screw the shelf to the nailer board or use finish nails. Fill any nail or screw hole with wood fill.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure to center the shelf before installing the nailer board.

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  • Photo Credit fireplace mantle image by Jim Mills from
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