The fireplace mantel is one of the most important decorative elements in the home. When used alongside cabinetry, the mantel can add a style element to the home that’s also functional. You can also use it alongside stone surround (marble or slate) to make the fireplace the focal point of your living room.
Even better, mantels come in a wide range of options, designs, and finishes. From hardwood-built units with oil stain finishes to traditional-style brick mantels, the choice is yours. This allows you to customize your mantel construction to fit your function and style needs.
If you’re just getting started with mantels or shopping for a replacement/upgrade for your fireplace, this guide should help you identify the right one for your home.
To get us started, the following are 10 of the best fireplace mantels to consider. Aside from offering exemplary style, functionality, and features, these ten products are also within most homeowner’s budgets.
The Anatomy of the Fireplace Mantel
The fireplace mantel comprises two main parts – the lower mantel and the optional over-mantel. The lower mantel includes a shelf, legs, header, and inner trim, while the over-mantel consists of a crown and wall cladding tiles.
The depth of the shelves varies and can be customized to the customer’s needs. However, a shelf depth of 12 inches is standard. Over-mantels also vary in size, typically starting from 8 inches.
Classic stone mantels are the most popular option. They are hand cast in a mold using extremely durable reinforced stonecast material, which creates very strong yet lightweight mantels. Finishes can be natural or hand-honed – it’s your choice.
You can also match the surround-facing to fit your firebox opening. Some manufacturers even offer 3-piece surround facing kits that slide within the cavity of the mantel.
It’s worth noting that mantels typically ship in three parts – two legs and the mantel shelf. Other units may ship in more parts. Surround facings are mostly ordered separately.
What’s the Difference Between a Hearth and a Mantel?
It would be best if you didn’t confuse the mantel and hearth. Although the two serve similar purposes, they are found in different areas of the fireplace.
The mantel is a shelf above the fireplace connected to the surround or directly secured to the wall. By comparison, the hearth is directly in front of the fireplace and constructed from fireproof materials. It proved a crucial safety feature as it defines the potentially dangerous area in front of the fireplace.
The following is a summary of the key distinctions between the two components (mantel and hearth) of the fireplace;
- Build materials: The fireplace mantel may be constructed from combustible material such as wood. However, professional installation is required in such circumstances to place it at a safe distance from the fire. On the other hand, hearths are made from 100% non-combustible materials, including stone, limestone, marble, tile, and granite.
- Design ideas: The fireplace mantel provides a focal point for design ideas, with shelves constructed from stone or brick for a traditional look or marble/metal for a sleek, contemporary feel. Mantels can also serve as TV stands and built-in bookshelves. Hearths, however, offer a smaller room for maneuver style-wise because of the limited build material options.
Benefits of a Fireplace Mantel
The fireplace mantel comes with functional as well as style advantages. The following are some of the ways the right mantel can benefit your home;
The first main benefit of the fireplace mantel is decoration. Many homeowners install stone or brick fireplace mantels due to the style advantages. The two offer unique finishes, from curved stone to cast stone and mortared mantels that can instantly transform any space.
Mortared styles encase stone or brick in a mortar and can be cut and strategically positioned for a hard-edge, rougher design. Curved stone is a little more expensive but offers more precise cuts for that clean finish.
But, if you want an even cleaner look, high-grade stones such as marble and limestone are available. Cast stone is the least expensive of the three options, but still very stylish.
Display Prized Possessions
The fireplace mantel also offers a great spot to display your prized possessions. In the older days, mostly, the mantel was a popular shelving option for clocks.
There was even a mantel clock – a small house clock used from the Gregorian era in the 1700s to the 1830s to the Victorian Era between the 1830s to the early 1900s.
Many people still use the over-mantel for the same purpose. The extra shelving typically serves as an interior design solution to display trophies, certificates, and other prized possessions. You’ll also find homeowners displaying precious photos on the mantel.
Shield the Fireplace and Protect the Wall
A more practical function of the mantel is to shield the fireplace and protect the wall. Stone and brick mantels are decorative ways to shield the home from the damaging effects of the flame and smoke coming from the fireplace. Why? Because these materials don’t crack or splinted under high heat and pressure.
Although electric fireplaces don’t produce smoke, this protective quality can be valuable in guarding your TV and other items placed on top of the mantel. Too much heat from the fireplace can damage these items. A fireplace mantel helps shield them from overheating.
Increase the Property’s Market Value
Finally, the right fireplace mantel can substantially increase the home’s market value. As previously mentioned, mantels were traditionally used as style furnishings around the fireplace.
Even today, some mantels help bring memories of architecture from those olden times. Homebuyers who understand the various architectures will quickly notice the design and take a greater interest in the property.
The exact increase in home value will depend on several factors, including your location and the mantel style. However, even a modest mantel can boost your home’s value by several thousand.
Considerations When Shopping for a Fireplace Mantel
All mantels aren’t created equal. So, you’ll need to consider several factors when choosing one for your home. We advise that you prioritize the following;
Fireplace Mantel Materials
There are three common materials used in making fireplace mantels – wood, stone, and MDF materials. Each material offers different benefits depending on your needs, budget, and concerns.
- Wood mantels: Wood is the first material that comes to mind when shopping for a modern electric fireplace mantel. The classic look provides unmatched versatility. From Victorian-style pieces embellished with carvings and stained in deep mahogany to rustic, unadorned planks, the customization options are endless. Price also varies widely, depending on factors such as wood type, mantel size, and embellishments.
- Stone mantels: Stone is another trendy material for fireplace mantels. Its natural elegance and incredible durability are unmatched. Moreover, wood can also be styled into a range of finishes, from rough and traditional to smooth and modern. The material is also safer (wood is noncombustible) and low-maintenance. However, keep in mind that stone is more expensive than other mantel materials.
- Medium Density Fireboard (MDF): MDF fireplace mantels are the middle point between wood and stone mantels. They provide the same classic beauty and endless design options as wood but are noncombustible, like a stone. They are also long-lasting, like stone, but affordable, like stone mantels. MDF offers clean, smooth surfaces that are easy to paint or stain and are thus very customizable.
Fireplace Mantel Size
Another significant consideration when shopping for a fireplace mantel is size. Even the most gorgeous mantel will look out of place if it isn’t the right size.
Therefore, the first thing you need to do is take the essential measurements to determine your fireplace’s right size mantel. The following are the key measurements to keep in mind;
- The opening height: Measure your fireplace’s height opening from the base to the topmost part.
- The opening width: Is the measurement of the fireplace opening from end to end (think left to right).
- Fireplace depth: The depth is the length of the face materials. Face materials are fireproof materials, such as brick, that stick out from the point of installation.
Once you’ve determined the three measurements above, you can calculate the size of the needed mantel. Remember that exact sizes also vary from one manufacturer to the next. You may need to add or subtract a few inches to create a snug fit.
Two other factors to consider are the presence of windows above the mantel and your hearth’s size.
The Projection of the Fireplace Mantel
We should have discussed the mantel projection in the sizing section above, but since it’s a critical component of the entire fireplace setup, it’s better to discuss it separately.
Often, manufacturers cut down on the projection of a given fireplace design to cut costs and labor associated with manufacturing, shipping, and handling.
This affects the aesthetics of the mantel and is especially detrimental in cast stone and natural stone mantels. That’s because the projection is what gives the mantel its depth. Without the right projection, the fireplace loses its depth, and consequently, its presence in the room.
The even bigger challenge is that most homeowners don’t know what projection size would be right for their fireplaces. We recommend working closely with your fireplace manufacturer to determine the right size projection.
Alternatively, use the standard metrics. The average projection of a traditional mantel set with a lintel and supporting legs or columns is 12 inches or longer. For contemporary mantels or modern fireplace surrounds, an 8-inch projection is about right.
Color and Texture
Finally, a great mantel also comes in the right texture, finished in the right color. Starting with colors, mantels can come in a variety of colors. Even stone units that are some of the most limited in style can be made to replicate virtually any color.
In general, however, experts advise that you choose your mantel colors as follows;
- Pick a color that’s present in your fireplace surround (not one of the main colors, though)
- Or match the mantel color to other wood trims in the room.
- Or, pick a color that complements something in the room, such as your walls.
The texture is another area where you can play around with your mantel to improve the home’s aesthetics. The right texture makes the mantel pop. It also adds balance and adds visual weight. Stone mantels offer the best texture options.
How High Should a Mantel be Above the Electric Fireplace?
Mantel height isn’t an arbitrary decision. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets standards for mantel height relative to the firebox. Flouring these requirements may attract legal penalties.
Additionally, local building codes may dictate considerations and standards for mantel height. Often, the rules vary depending on the type of fireplace – wood burning, gas insert, electric fireplace, canister, etc., and the presence or absence of ventilation.
So, before you begin shopping for a mantel, check your local codes or by-laws to learn about any restrictions and guidelines. Also, check the manufacturer’s manual for further guidelines.
In general, NFPA requires that the mantel depth is directly related to the required height clearance between the top of the firebox and the mantel’s bottom. A 2-inch depth must have a minimum clearance of 11 inches. Increase the clearance by one inch for every one-inch increase in depth.
- What is the Average Thickness of a Fireplace Mantel? Seven inches. A 7-inch thickness (or depth) is considered ideal as it allows plenty of room to accommodate decorative objects.
- What’s the Best Finish for a Fireplace Mantel? The majority of consumers prefer semi-gloss paint because it gives you a reliable, durable surface withstands heat from the fireplace while reflecting light from the flames.
- How Do You Protect a Fireplace Mantel from Heat? Using a mantel heat shield. The shield prevents the mantel from becoming too hot. It also prevents discoloration of the mantel due to heat.
- Can You Paint a Wood Fireplace Mantel? If so, how? Yes, you can paint your wood fireplace mantel. Begin by taping off the mantel area with painter’s tape, then lightly sand the area with sandpaper and wipe off the dust with a tack cloth. Then, paint the mantel with three paint coats, allowing each coat to dry for 24 hours.
- What Are Some Great Fireplace Mantel Decoration Tips and Ideas? There are many tips to consider. For instance, you can hang a mirror in the middle and sconce on either side. You can also anchor the mantel with a larger vase in front of a mirror and fill in with smaller accessories. Decorating with greenery, seasonal charms, artwork are other ideas to consider.
Best Electric Fireplace With Mantel
1. DIMPLEX C3P23LJ-2085CO electric Fireplace Mantel
With a rustic dark finish, the DIMPLEX C3P23LJ-2085CO, also popular as the DIMPLEX Morgan, is a gorgeous fireplace that easily adapts to traditional and modern spaces.
It features a 23-inch electric fireplace area that displays a warm, traditional look with flames rising from an attractive bed of logs. Three levels of flame and ember bed brightness allow you to adjust the indoor ambiance to meet your mood.
Key features of the C3P23LJ-2085CO include the wheel design for effortless mobility across all surfaces, a rustic oak finish with industrial-style restoration hardware, and easy access controls at the front of the firebox. The mantel provides the perfect place to display your photos.
This fireplace is designed for quick assembly – you don’t need professional help or special tools. It’s also a plug-and-go model that plugs into the standard household power outlet.
- Convenient remote control
- Wheels for easy mobility
- Beautiful rustic charcoal oak finish
- Ideal for up to 1,000 square feet
- Three heat levels
- No heating option
- No smart controls
2. DIMPLEX C3P23C9-2067W Electric Fireplace Mantel
Another DIMPLEX on the list, the model C3P23C9-2067W Jasmine, is almost similar to the above fireplace – the only significant difference being the simple white finish.
The while color gives it a classic design, allowing the fireplace to adapt to traditional and modern spaces, while the compact size makes it ideal for small spaces. It, too, features a 23-inch displaying area that allows you to enjoy life-like flames rising from faux crystals.
The Jasmine is remote controlled for convenient handling and is desired for spaces up to 1,000 square feet. It provides supplemental heat.
You’ll also appreciate that it’s a plug-and-go appliance that doesn’t require special wiring; indeed, it plugs into a 120V socket: three flame levels and ember bed brightness round off the list of features.
It’s worth noting that this fireplace comes with an anti-tipping feature that automatically turns off the unit when it tips over. A wheel design allows you to move it around with ease.
- Ideal for spaces up to 1,000 square feet
- Anti-tipping safety wall restraints
- Three flame and ember bed brightness levels
- Wheels for easy mobility
- 9-month return period
- Costs over $300
- Batteries bought separately
3. Northwest 80-FPWF-4 Electric Fireplace TV Stand with Shelf
Many people love the feel of natural wood accents in the home, and the model 80-FPWF-4 fireplace from Northwest offers just that.
The freestanding entertainment console can hold TV sets up to 32 inches in size or serve as a mantel for displaying books, frames, and other accenting items. Even better, it comes with a bookshelf!
Another thing that stands out about the fireplace is the dual switch design that allows it to function as a fireplace or fireplace + supplementary heater.
In short, the heat function can be turned off entirely so you can enjoy only the dancing flames. This makes the 80-FPWF-4 useful year-round. A safety cut-off mechanism prevents it from overheating.
This fireplace is mainly made from MDF wood but also features veneer, steel, tempered glass, and a few plastic parts. It’s rated at 4777 BTU and can hold up to 88 pounds.
- Stylish wood-grain gray TV stand
- Overheating shutoff for safety
- Includes a cord-management slot
- Ideal for up to 400 square feet
- The setup is a bit involving
- No pre-drilled holes
4. AmeriWood Home Model 1812196COM Bruxton Electric Fireplace
Assembling the electric fireplace can be a challenge, especially if it’s your first time installing one. If you’re not up for the installation trouble, you can avoid the hassle by opting for this simple fireplace from AmeriWood.
Finished in a warm cherry woodgrain and featuring a black metal firebox, this fireplace looks stunning without putting you through hours of assembly.
It features built-in reflectors that create realistic effects using the company’s exclusive Altraflame technology. The technology uses LED lights that can last up to 50,000 hours.
The heater itself plugs into the standard household power outlet (removing any wiring worries) and is designed for spaces up to 400 square feet.
The Bruxton fireplace is constructed from particleboard and MDF for a beautiful finish and long life. The tops of the mantel can support weights up to 10 pounds. A 1-year warranty covers the product.
- Gorgeous warm cherry finish
- Essentially maintenance-free
- Works with or without heat
- Ships fully assembled
- 1-year warranty
- Mantel can only hold 10 pounds
- It’s a bit shallow (depth)
5. AmeriWood Home Model 1764096PCOM Chicago Electric Fireplace TV Console
If you’re in love with AmeriWood fireplaces but desire better depth, the model 1764096PCOM is twice the previous model’s depth – 15 inches compared to about 7 ½.
The advantages don’t end there, though. It also holds a lot more weight. Unlike the previous model that holds a maximum of 10 pounds, this one holds up to 70 LB, meaning that it can hold many more items. Indeed, the manufacturer says it safely holds a 50-inch flat-screen TV.
Other standout features of the 1764096PCOM fireplace include a top-divided open shelf that’s great for keeping your cable box or Blu-Ray player.
It also features two side cabinets with additional shelving behind a glass door. You can use these for books and DVDs. The fireplace plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet and is recommended for spaces up to 400 square feet.
The only downside of this fireplace is the demanding assembly process. The stand ships flat to your doorstep, and it takes two adults at least an hour to set it up.
- Striking espresso wood finish
- Holds up to 70 pounds
- Ideal for up to 400 square feet
- Multiple shelves for storage
- Assembly takes a long time
- Most parts aren’t pre-drilled
6. Classic Flame Pioneer Stone Model 18WM10400-I601 Electric Fireplace Mantel
For those searching for the ultimate electric fireplace with heat output, this model from Classic Flame would be a great buy.
The SpectraFire flame effect technology delivers dazzling life-like flames. You have six flame options – three blue and three ambers. Also, the unit is remote-controlled, so you don’t need to leave your sofa.
The 52,000 BTU heater provides supplemental heat to areas up to 1,000 square feet. You can control both the strength of the heating and the brightness of the flame. In total, there are five flame brightness settings.
A flame-only mode is also available that allows you to enjoy the ambiance of blue or ember dancing flames without the heat. A log set and pulsating ember bed combine to give the unit additional realism. The fireplace is CSA certified and backed by a one-year warranty.
- 52,000 BTU heating option
- Flame-only mode available
- Remote control for convenience
- Pulsating ember bed
- 1-year warranty
- Fiberglass mantel top easily scratches
- It’s not finished to the back
7. KUPPET 44-Inch Electric Fireplace Heater, Log Hearth with Realistic Flame
The 44-inch KUPPET is also an excellent heater for those interested in a mantel fireplace with a heat option. Even better, you can choose to use the flame + heat or flame only mode.
This makes the mantel fireplace a useful appliance throughout the year. The heating element is rated at 1,500 watts in high setting and 750 watts in low setting, making it ideal for up to 400 square feet.
The unit is very safe for use in the home. It’s fitted with overheat protection and ETL certified. You may also want to know that it used 3D technology to provide some of the most life-like flames. Different flame settings are available depending on your specific needs.
The other thing we really love about this fireplace is the variety of mantel color options. This gives you the chance to pick a color that perfectly complements your room.
- 51,000 BTU heater
- Flame + heat and flame-only options
- Overheat protection
- ETL certified for safety
- The brown wood finish is flat
- No shelves
8. Real Flame Hollis Model 5005E-W Electric Fireplace
Perfectly suited for many environments, the Hollis model 5005E-W is one of the modern-looking fireplaces mantels around. It’s made from steel (and in this case painted white) but replicates the look of a built-in wood stove. A compact footprint allows for endless placement options.
Key features of the model 5005E-W include a Vivid Flame electric firebox that plugs into a standard household outlet, a programmable thermostat for precise heating, six temperature settings and a timer function for programmed heating. It’s made from steel and comes in a white finish.
The heating element is rated at 1,500 watts (about 4,780 BTU), but you can use the flame without the heat option. Thermal overload protection, a 6-foot 7-inch power cord, and a single shelf are other features.
- 1500-watt heater
- Includes shelf for storage
- Capacitive touch controls
- Remote control five flame brightness levels
- Multiple timer levels
- Demanding installation process
- The design doesn’t suit traditional architectures
9. SEI Furniture Cartwright Convertible Earth Tone Tile Electric corner Fireplace
If you’re first and foremost attracted to the charm and ambiance afforded by electric fireplace mantels, then this model from SEI would be one of the best picks.
A natural earth-toned mission oak fireplace with sleek columns on either side complementing a crown molding that accents the mantel’s top, this masterpiece makes the perfect focal point for the living room.
The firebox is realistic, producing a multi-color flickering flame and glowing embers that will wow your guests. Simultaneously, an interior brick design gives it a life-like look every electric fireplace owner craves.
Easy remote control, four flame settings, and multiple safety settings, including an automatic shutoff and cool-to-touch surface, complete the list of features.
The heater fits against a flat wall or in a corner – the choice is yours. A 6-foot cord is included for installation. It plugs into a standard household power outlet.
- Fireplace with heat
- Striking mission oak finish
- Ideal for up to 400 square feet
- Corner-convertible design
- Holds up to 85 pounds
- Can support a 43.5-inch TV
- The price is a bit high
- No smart controls
10. MagikFlame Electric Fireplace with Mantel – Trinity White – 52,000 BTU
Finally, the Trinity mantle package from MagikFlame is the perfect choice for traditional luxury homes. It’s a pure, bright white mantel that doesn’t come in any other colors.
It’s also not mixed with any colors. Many describe it as Alpine white. Beautiful fluted side posts on both sides and intricately carved triangular corbels with bull-nose edging adorn both side posts.
The unit itself is made from MDF wood at the core and solid hardwood crown molding plus a few embellishment pieces. If you look at it closely, you can notice the real wood grain veneer that gives it the high-end appearance.
It sits up a 4-inch base and measures an impressive 55 x 48 x 18 inches deep. This makes it the deepest mantel fireplace on this list.
The unit offers 26 realistic and lifelike flames and features a built-in 5,200 BTU infrared quartz heater to take the chill out. It can be flame only or flame + heat mode.
- High-end materials and finish
- 26 lifelike flame options
- Authentic log crackling
- 5,200-watt infrared quartz heater
- 18 inches deep
- 1-year warranty
- Highest priced on this list
- The assembly process can be demanding
In most homes, the fireplace is the focal point of the living room. And, above the fireplace, you’ll often find a mantel that sets the tone for the whole room.
In the past, these mantels were primarily used to direct smoke toward the chimney instead of adjacent rooms. However, modern-day mantels no longer direct smoke; instead, performing two functions.
First, they serve as a decorative layer on the fireplace. Secondly, some mantels contain shelves where you can place items.
If you’re thinking about getting an electric fireplace, you should strongly consider models that come with a mantel – it makes a huge difference!
The mantel can instantly transform your home. It adds to the fireplace’s charm and makes the fireplace even more of a centerpiece in the living room. What’s more, mantels can add to the market value of your home.
Three things are critical to finding the perfect fireplace with mantel, though – size, material, and finish (including color). If you can get these three factors spot on, you’ll enjoy the actual benefits of a fireplace mantel.