The finishing touch to a beautiful hearth
Historically, the term "mantelpiece" was the large hood which was built over a fireplace in medieval times to catch smoke from the fire, channeling it up the chimney instead of into the room it was meant to heat. Because of this function, it was also known as a "chimneypiece". Today, the term has been shortened simply to "mantel" and refers only to the decorative stone or wood surrounding the upper part of the fireplace, which can stretch all the way to the ceiling. The term "mantelpiece" has now changed to refer generally to the jambs (vertical pieces of stone or wood at the sides of a fireplace, like the frame of a door), mantel shelf across the top, and other external accents, mostly above the fireplace. Although mantels and chimneypieces were once the most ornate and decorative piece of any room, their prevalence and significance has decreased over time as more modern heating methods have become common.
A well-crafted fireplace mantel can turn every kind of fireplace, whether wood- or gas-burning, into an attractive centerpiece for any room. Mantels are typically made of wood, metal, or stone, but can come with porcelain, gold, silver or other metal accents. Mantels frame a fireplace and can be used to collect and display fireside knick-knacks.
Most Fireplace Mantels are between 10" and 20" deep and you can improve their basic aesthetic appeal with a variety of accessories. Popular mantle accessories include candles or candelabra – not to be confused with fireplace candelabra, which are meant to be placed inside of your fireplace and lit during the warmer seasons to provide light and ambience even when you don't need heat.
The mantel itself is a shelf which hangs above the fireplace. Mantels are often made of hardwood or stone and can come as a single piece which must be permanently fixed on the wall or as separate pieces which are easy to install and snap together. These shelves are commonly available in many handcrafted styles and finishes like Antique White, Cherry, Dark Pine and Oak.
Decorative mantel legs are additions to mantel shelves and can be offered in similar hardwood or stone veneers. Custom-made mantel legs can be purchased to fit the exact height requirements of your fireplace and are offered in similar finishes to blend with your mantel shelves to create an ornamented and stylized fireplace presentation.
To learn more about the many stylish variations of fireplace mantels available, check out the shopping links in the box at the top of this page. Don't forget to bookmark this site to resume your shopping for mantels, accessories, inserts, chimney liners, chimney caps, fire starters, gas fireplaces, and tips on installing wood stoves.