Mantels are typically used above or above and surrounding working gas or wood-burning fireplaces, but more and more people are using a mantel in unique ways to add a focal point to any room. A fireplace is not needed to provide ambiance to an indoor or even an outdoor space.
Some homeowners or home decorators find antique or modern
mantels at architectural salvage stores, retail hearth stores, flea markets, antique stores, or online auction sites. Even chimney sweeps and masons may keep a few mantels around that have been removed from repair projects.
Mantels come in all styles and sizes. Small antique cast iron mantels that were once used for very small coal fireplaces are perfect for smaller spaces such as parlors, bedrooms, or foyers. Larger marble or wood mantels are appropriate to use in bigger rooms such as great rooms, family rooms or living rooms.
The outdoor room is more and more popular and outdoor fireplaces are a part of that trend. Adding a mantel to the fireplace may add just the right, and unexpected, finishing touch to the space. Protect the mantel from weather by applying a non-combustible coating to the surface if there is no roof or overhang.
Cast iron and marble mantels are non-combustible, while wood mantels are combustible, so care should be taken if planning to use a fire source. If fire is desired, an indoor gel fireplace may be added as long as clearances to combustible materials is adhered to. There are also some small depth electric fireplaces on the market that can be used if the effect is desired. Some electric fireplaces also produce a small amount of heat.
A Kansas City resident recently had five fireplaces in his historic 1870 home restored and remodeled. A local chimney contractor was able to obtain antique 1860’s period cast iron mantels from New York that fit the brick fireplaces perfectly. The small fireplaces were rebuilt with firebrick in a Rumford style, which was introduced in the 1700’s by Count Benjamin Thomas Rumford, who designed the fireplace to produce more heat. The cast iron mantels and the fireplace designs work together perfectly and appear original to the home. “I was so happy with the finished look,” said the homeowner, “We feel lucky to have been able to get the mantels shipped from New York.”
One final option that the smaller mantels can be used for is the new Bellfires brand pre-cast wood-burning zero clearance fireplace. This fireplace comes in one complete package which includes the smoke chamber and insulation with a stainless steel casing. The Bellfires wood-burning fireplace can be added to any room. A Class A stainless steel chimney is required to be installed with the fireplace. Since the Bellfires fireplace is U.L. listed it can be installed in any city per code requirements. It comes in several sizes, including a 28” high small fireplace that looks period. The cast mantels work well with this fireplace unit.
Marge Padgitt is president and CEO of HearthMasters, Inc. and HearthMasters Education in Kansas City, Missouri. She is an author, educator, and industry veteran. www.hearthmasters.us, www.chimkc.com.