A shelf above the fireplace is a mantel. Mantel shelf usually has a decorative purpose. Some fireplaces have a full mantel, like a frame. The full fireplace mantel surrounds the fireplace sideways. It also has a shelf installed on the top.

Mantels can are attached to a piece of wood that is already placed on the wall. If that’s the case, screws and nails are visible – either on the top or at the bottom side of the mantel.

As time passes, fireplace mantels get damaged and at some point, they have to be removed or replaced with a new one. Some people remove a fireplace entirely or just a mantel.

Besides practical reasons, some homeowners get rid of the mantel as it no longer fits the style of the fireplace or the room in which it is located. This can change the entire ambiance of the room.

When re-designing the room, the fireplace mantel is a good starting point. The fireplace is the central element of the room, so if you remove the old mantel, you get more freedom in re-styling.

The removal of the fireplace mantel or fireplace surrounding is not very hard. Yet, there are some steps and tips useful to know to get the job done well.

It is important to know in which way it is attached to the wall.

Wood fireplaces, for instance, are often constructed as a single piece. Some are made by cashing finish-grade lumber over a rough lumber frame. The weight is keeping it in place or it is glued to the top of the masonry face or implemented into it.

Sometimes it is as easy as just taking it off. It is only in case when it is just placed on the top and if it is a single pieced.

Here are some useful DIY advice and tips on how to remove mantels.

Get set-up

Get-set-up How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Lay some old newspapers or an old piece of cloth on the floor to make cleaning the filth afterward easier. Also, make sure to protect the furniture with some kind of covering.

Remove everything from the fireplace mantel before you start. You will need to use a hammer and a chisel to separate the mantel from the wall. Before that, check if there are any nails or screws on the mantel. If there are, use a screwdriver to remove them first.

Locate the faces

Locate-the-faces How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Look sideways for the seam where the outer faces of legs connect with the horizontal self. You will find either large wood screws or lag bolts. These keep the framework of the mantel safely attached to the wall both up and down and sideways. Use the large screwdriver to remove the wooden screws. If there are lag bolts, use a socket and ratchet to remove them.

Remove the braces

Remove-the-braces How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Some mantels have corbel braces so these will need to be removed as well. These are a kind of decorative supports, large-sized and can be made of stone, brick or wood.

To remove it, chisel the masonry surrounding the stone or brick corbels. Place the tip of the pry bar behind the corbels and tap it. Do this gently until it loosens enough so you can pull it out and remove it.

Remove the screws

Remove-the-screws How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

To remove the screws, you’ll need a drill driver. If there are bolts holding the corbel, remove them with the help of a socket and a ratchet.

Sometimes, screws hide under the wooden furniture buttons. You can remove these and reveal the screws. If there is wood filler as a cover, you will have to chip the filler out.

Again, use the hammer or a rubber mallet to loosen the corbels. Push and pull in different directions, until you can remove it with ease.

Remove the connecting’s

Remove-the-connecting_s How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Position a pry bar at the back of the fireplace mantel to pry it off. If it won’t come off, there is a ledger. It might be under or behind it. Its purpose is to connect the board with the wall with the use of screws or bolts. In that case, you will have to remove them with a drill driver. After you do, try again to pry the mantel off with the pry bar and it should come off this time.

Knockdown mantel

Knockdown-mantel How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Place the tip of the chisel at the back of the moldings. To reveal screw heads, you will first need to pry them off. Sometimes screw heads are still not visible, so you have to chisel off the outer panels too.

You can also trim on the vertical legs, to look for the screw heads. Chip off the plaster excessive around those legs using the chisel and the hammer. You can remove screws with the drill driver or screwdriver and bolts with the socket and ratchet.

Loose down the mantel

Loose-down-the-mantel How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Find any gap or a crack in the back of the mantel and place the tip of the pry bar in it. Move the pry bar sideways and repeat this until it loosens.

Slowly lift the mantel and separate it away from the wall. You may want help with this to avoid the mantel falling forward. When you feel the mantel is loose enough, gently tilt it down and remove it from the wall.

Reuse materials

Reuse-materials How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Sometimes you don’t have to remove and destroy the old mantel. If you want, you can also improve it and upgrade it. You may be able, if you take careful steps, to save some material and reuse it. It is important to have pieces removed carefully, one at a time, if you don’t want to destroy them.

Dispose of materials

Dispose-of-materials How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Using the hammer, rubber mallet, chisel and wooden shims pull out and remove the mantel. You might also have to remove side parts from the wall one after another.

After doing so, crush the big pieces into smaller ones. This will make the disposal much easier. There are special tools used for this.

You also want to wear gloves while doing this to keep safe from any injury, scratches or cuts.

This may seem complicated at first, but if you have the right tools, you will be able to remove the mantel all by yourself.


Safety-1 How to remove a fireplace mantel easily

Fireplaces in general can cause house fires and a lot of damage if one is not being careful enough with handling the one. That also applies to the mantels. If it is not properly installed, operated, serviced and maintained – it can lead to accidents.

For instance, you need to have some kind of screen to protect embers flying out of the fire. Fire can also occur from the creosote accumulated in the chimney. You can avoid all this if you use the fireplace responsibly.

Besides fire hazards, the smoke that comes out of the fireplace can also create damage. It can pollute the air outside. If the smoke is coming inside the home, and not out of the chimney, that indicates something is wrong.

Fire consumes a lot of oxygen, so there is a possibility of creating negative pressure in the home. That occurs because the air from outside is drowned indoors to replace the air consumed by the fire.

Ending thoughts on how to remove a fireplace mantel

It often happens people inherit or buy an old house with an old fireplace. They usually don’t function anymore and haven’t been lit in ages. Some people leave it and some decide to remove it. They replace it with something more suitable for the new home decor.

Anyhow, removing a mantel is not such a difficult task as it may seem at first. Get the right tools: hammer, chisel, rubber mallet, protective gloves, and glasses… Follow the steps. Don’t forget protective glasses and gloves. They are of great importance to protecting both your eyes and hands from any injury.

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