Fireplace Mantels

How to Remove a Fireplace Mantel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Many homeowners are interested in updating or replacing their fireplace mantels to enhance the aesthetic appeal of their home’s interior. But knowing how to remove a fireplace mantel or surround in order to replace it can be tricky, if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

The guide below gives tips on how to remove a fireplace mantel properly and safely, courtesy of Old World Stoneworks, a leading provider of high-quality cast stone mantels and surrounds.

Preparing for Removal: Safety and Tools Required

Before you start, be sure you have the right tools you need to remove and replace a surround. Here’s what you should have on hand:

  • A plastic sheet or tarp
  • A fireplace covering
  • A cordless power drill
  • A masonry chisel and hammer
  • A pry bar
  • A rubber hammer
  • A putty knife
  • A Phillips head screwdriver

Depending on your situation, you may not use all of these tools, but it’s still wise to have them at your disposal to make things go as smoothly as possible.

If you’re working on projects like mantel removals and replacements, protect yourself with the correct safety gear. Wear safety goggles, gloves, and a mask to protect your hands and keep debris out of your eyes, face and lungs.

Use the tarp to protect the floor and anything else in the work area from debris as well.

Essential Steps for Removing Fireplace Mantels

With the right tools in place, your next step is to identify the material you’re working with, as that will determine how you approach your fireplace surround removal. Some materials, like wood, are relatively easy to remove, while others, like metal, require a greater effort. Specific mantel materials are covered below, but some of the steps will be the same regardless of the composition of your mantel.

Removing a simple mantel shelf is relatively easy. Removing a surround mantel, which encases the fireplace on its top and both sides, will be more complicated. Whatever the mantel is attached to will also influence how challenging it will be to remove; mantels attached to brick may be more difficult to work with while those attached to drywall are often much simpler to remove.

By now, you’re ready to start removing your fireplace mantel. If you have a shelf mantel, take these steps:

  • Loosen the corbel braces (if present)
  • Remove the fasteners with a power drill or screwdriver
  • Remove the braces
  • Gently loosen the mantel and remove it

Those with surround mantels will follow a similar process, with some notable differences:

  • Loosen the sides of the mantel with a pry bar and mallet
  • Remove the fasteners with a screwdriver or power drill
  • Gently loosen and remove the mantel

How to Remove a Mantel from a Brick Fireplace

Need to know how to remove a mantel from a brick fireplace? Doing so will require the same heavy-duty protective gear along with a power drill and a pry bar. Start by removing the fasteners to the attachments, if any, with your power drill. Then, use the pry bar, tapping it with a hammer, to separate the mantel from the brick. Gently lift the mantel and remove any adhesive using a putty knife.

How to Remove a Stone Fireplace Surround

Want to know how to remove a stone fireplace surround? The steps are somewhat similar to those required to remove a mantel from a brick fireplace. You’ll still want your power drill handy, but you’ll instead drill holes directly into the stone. Then, you’ll use a hammer and chisel to chip it off in pieces. It’s a dustier, messier process, so protective gear is once again vital. Additionally, take extra caution with the wall behind the fireplace mantel, as stone surround removal methods can easily damage it.

Selecting Your New Fireplace Mantel

Of course, before you replace your fireplace surround, you will want to determine what you will replace it with. There are several elements to consider when selecting your new mantel.

Of course, aesthetic appeal is probably the primary consideration. The cast stone mantel options available at Old World Stoneworks come in a wide variety, including more than 40 mantel designs that can accompany any decor style, from traditional to transitional.

These designs come in three colors, multiple sizes, and additional options to fit specific types of hearths. If you need something different, special orders are also available!

Installation Tips for a Seamless Mantel Replacement

The most important tip for a suitable mantel replacement is to not underestimate the difference a professional installation makes. Calling a professional ensures your mantel is beautifully installed and adequately secured, and it is the best way to guarantee you’ll have little to no issues with your mantel down the line.

Maintaining Your Fireplace Mantel’s Splendor

In addition to learning how to remove mantel from fireplaces, it’s important to know how to maintain your new one. First of all, stone fireplaces benefit immensely from proper sealing because it greatly enhances their look and longevity. Make sure you get the right kind of sealer for the material your fireplace is made of!

Start by cleaning your fireplace with a mild soap and water. Let it dry for around 24 hours, then apply the sealer using a foam-tip applicator. Focus on applying an even coat, potentially adding a second coat for more protection.

Once it’s sealed properly, you can use soap and water to clean your fireplace, only bringing out the sealer again if you notice any wear.

Ultimately, keeping up with your fireplace’s maintenance can help prevent efflorescence and other stains that could impact its appearance.

Recap: Transforming Your Fireplace With a New Mantel

Ensure you have all the tools you need to safely remove your mantel, follow the steps outlined above (adjusting them as needed), and don’t hesitate to reach out for professional assistance. When you’re ready to purchase your new cast stone mantel, get professional help with installation, then follow the maintenance tips above to keep your investment looking great for years.

Discover your ideal fireplace mantel with Old World Stoneworks — Contact Us Today!