By Gene and Katie Hamilton
A fireplace is often the focal point of a room, and giving it a facelift with a new mantel can create a dramatic impact. This is often the case in a typical track house built with bare bones moldings or in an older home with a less than stylish mantel.
You'll find an array of mantel styles and elements in the millwork department of home centers and lumberyards sold as components or kits. Kits typically include a shelf, surround and the pilasters that decorate the surround, and are designed with do-it-yourselfers in mind. You'll find several sources online, such as www.mantelsdirect.com, where you can use a mantel measuring worksheet Measuring a Mantel Fireplace Surround to determine the dimensions of the components you need.
A carpenter will install a moderately priced unfinished hardwood mantel and surround for $1,498, which includes the material and labor. A handy homeowner with some carpentry tools and experience can buy the components and install it for $750 and pocket a 49 percent saving.
Before you order any materials, make a drawing of the fireplace and take accurate measurements of the opening to determine the size and components needed. Check with your local building inspector to learn the building code requirements about spacing combustible material near the firebox opening. And don't forget to allow additional time to finish the mantel.
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That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to install a fireplace mantel lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020