Wood for fireplace mantel

gpraceman55May 3, 2013

If a kitchen remodel wasn't enough, I want to redo our fireplace. I don't like the existing tile around it and hate the boxy drywalled mantel shelf. So, I came up with a design for a wood mantel that gives more of a Craftsman style feel to our house.

We'd paint the mantel white to match the cabinetry in the niches on either side of the fireplace. The hearth will be a soapstone slab and surround the fireplace with soapstone tiles. I thought that I might also inlay some soapstone into the mantel itself. The width of the design is constrained by the niches on either side; otherwise, I would expand it to make room for more tile on the sides of the fireplace.

My question, is what would be a good wood to use? I hear that poplar is easy to work with and paints well, but I am open to suggestions.

Any feedback on the design as well, would be appreciated.

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Here's what we have now.

I recently built out those niches. They used to be just drywall skinned with fixed shelving (drywall skinned as well). Now we have cabinets to put our electronics and storage for our DVD's and video games. I should have tackled the mantel at that time, but oh well.

This post was edited by gpraceman on Fri, May 3, 13 at 20:52

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Fire codes won't allow anything other than what you have unless you add to the sides. You can't narrow the tile section up at all. The facing around the firebox has to be fireproof, which with the tile, it currently is. The tiled fireproof section that you show in your design would be too small. The wood would be too close to the fire source.

You could possibly just do the mantle and change the tile to the soapstone. But to do any other alteration would involve making the firebox itself smaller, or the entire chimney breast larger.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 8:26AM
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I guess it begs to say then, what is the minimum clearance to combustibles allowed by code to the face of a gas log fireplace?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:35AM
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Clearance from the fire box opening depends on how far the flammable item sticks out form the face of the firebox opening.

This post was edited by brickeyee on Sat, May 4, 13 at 11:21

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:20AM
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I dug up the manual for our gas fireplace. It shows 1/2" of clearance to combustibles on the sides. The base moldings around the columns is the closest wood, at 2.5".

For a mantel, it shows 39" from the base of the fireplace for a 0" to 3" projection. The closest part of the surround to the top of the fireplace is only a 3/4" projection and is above 39" at its closest point.

The mantel shelf itself is only 4-1/2" deep, and is well above the 41" minimum from the base.

From that manual, it seems like the current mantel surround design will not be a problem.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 11:54AM
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