How Thick should Fireplace Mantel be? [5-7 inches?]

  • HGTV recommends a depth of 7 inches for most mantels and a  5-1/2 to 7-1/2 inches for thickness
  • This permits enough room to accommodate decorative objects like picture frames
  • Remember that the top and the sides of your mantel should also be the same depth
  • Check out these recommended dimensions from DIY With Christine:

 The fireplace mantel is a carefully decorative and protective frame component surrounding the fireplace on both sides.

Often, it serves as the room’s focal point and has become an integrated part of interior design.

The top flat area of a mantel provides a nice shelf where household items are beautifully placed, therefore giving the room an appealing look.

A mantel is sometimes made on its own above the fireplace opening and without anything surrounding it. This is referred to as a floating shelf. It is mainly constructed of wood. A mantel can also cover the fireplace completely from both sides and top.

So How Thick Should Fireplace Mantel be?

Fireplace mantels consist of all shapes and sizes that can fit fireplace openings.

The widths and the thickness of a fireplace mantel depend on how the fireplace opening and chimney breast looks like or how large or narrow they are.

The recommended width for a mantel is 6 inches wider on both sides. Whether there is anything installed or not, the width of the fireplace mantle should be the same.

Notably, a mantel serves to absorb and contain heat from the fireplace. Due to that, these components should be built having ample and appropriate distance from the fireplace to prevent them from being damaged when exposed to too much heat.

The 5-7 inches thickness of a fireplace mantel is the best. This inch range combines nicely with a 7-inch mantel depth giving a direct proportional look above a fireplace without disturbing the room. Anything thicker than that makes the mantel affect the whole fireplace.

And anything smaller than that dimension of thickness, cannot work in the fireplace properly. The thickness is usually measured from the top to the bottom of a mantel.

The suitable materials used for Mantel are usually above 5 inches. In terms of safety, the thinner material loses heat faster, while the thicker material sucks up more heat with ease. The thicker the material, the safer it is.

Purposely, Mantel is made of wood, among others to suck and reduce the heat from the fireplace. This prevents the wall from receiving excessive heat. These materials should not be combustible or painted with flammable material since this may decrease the mantle thickness, therefore lowering safety.

Additionally, the thicker the mantle, the stronger it is to support more household beauties placed on its shelves without breaking or getting damaged.

Purpose of a fireplace mantle

A fireplace mantel was traditionally discovered and developed to serve as a cover that would catch and prevent smoke from entering the room, diverting it directly to the chimney. However, mantels have become less prominent in new houses because of modern heating methods and are used as decorative and aesthetic items.

The purpose of a fireplace mantel is to:

  • Help make a fireplace be a focal point for a room.
  • Help a fireplace match with materials and styles available for mantels and the entire room.
  • Provide a shelf where household items are placed.
  • Covers any joints around the fireplace top opening between the chimney and firebox.

A Brief History of the Mantles

So, what is a fireplace mantel? In England, early-17th century mantel was very simple and followed the Italian style that consisted of the mantelpiece with classic shelves.

In the late-17th century, Mantel was molded into more beautiful decorations. The best decorative mantle frames first appeared in American homes during the colonial periods in the 18th century.

The first American fireplace mantel consisted of a simple wooden trim with a huge brick opening. Victorian-style fireplace mantels later conquered other earlier periods of mantels.

They have added more wonderful things such as display shelves and inset mirrors after they were elaborate and carved from wood.

What is Fireplace Mantels Made of

Mantels are made from various materials such as marble, fine timber limestone, and granite.

Mostly, mantels are flat on top, providing a base where ornaments such as flower container clocks or framed pictures can be arranged.

Floating mantels are commonly made from wood, while mantels making a complete fireplace surround are commonly made of wood, concrete, and marble or stones.

Notably, the weight of a floating mantel shelf needs to be supported tightly by the wall holding it; therefore, wood makes a good material for such mantels.

This is because wood is lighter in weight compared to any other masonry-constructed mantels.

Additionally, wood mantels can be made hollow to save more weight. Fireplace surrounds do well with a wider range of different materials such as concrete, stones, and bricks, among others, but wood is the most common.

Walnut is an example popular wood choice for fireplace mantels. It is harder and heavier, and durable. Hickory is another great choice for an excellent fireplace mantel.

Mantel Styles


The rustic look is created by raw and reclaimed wood, other organic materials, and natural elements. Particularly, rustic fireplace mantels offer warmth to the living spaces and look good with wonderful fireplaces.

Learn more about non-combustible fireplace mantels here.


A modern fireplace mantel involves simplicity: natural, tones and less detailed fitting in the interior design.


Traditional mantels are the most classic design that never goes out of style. It is more decorative than other types. Many traditional mantels involve carved and detailed wooden work.


This type of Mantel bridges the gap between traditional and modern styles. This forms a classic, timeless style design.


This fireplace mantle looks like a real beach. In general, beach-style fireplace mantels are made of stained wood, making them lighter. The stain resembles ocean looks and mimics the appearance of driftwood.


It comprises metal or dark wood so that they contrast nicely with lighter woods and materials inside the room.

There are other styles, including Victorian and craftsman, which can be partially included as modern. Learn more about how mantels are attached here.

Eugene Duke Pic

Hi, my name’s Eugene Duke and I love sitting by my fireplace reading a book and sipping on an adult beverage. Do you have a fireplace in your house? I’ll help you figure out the best type and style of fireplace for your home.


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