I started researching mantels and fireplace surrounds looking for designs I liked or a cheap All-in-One kit. After realizing that I didn't like any of them, I begged Jason to build me one. He kept thinking that I would come up with some crazy design but it was the exact opposite, I just wanted something simple and clean looking. After a few "discussion" (we sometimes butt heads during projects) we finally figured out the best way to achieve the look we wanted. We decided to build the mantle out of MDF because it is cheap, came already primed and would be very easy to paint. We originally wanted to use leftover tile we had for the surround but opted to buy some similar tile in a smaller pattern.
This project turned out to be easier than I thought (which doesn't usually happen) and I LOVE the end result!!!
(Sorry, totally forgot to take a before pic. This is from last Christmas, please also ignore the terribly dirty mirror)
Here's how we did it:
First we ripped the old tile off the wall, make sure to put down some cardboard or something to protect your current floors from falling tile. We learned that breaking the tile apart with a hammer caused less damage to the wall behind it rather than trying to pry the old tile off the wall. Unfortunately we didn't learn that until we had already destroyed a nice chunk of the wall... oops. We also pried the old mantle off the wall.
Jason then cut off the damaged dry wall and replaced with cement board. He patched the holes left from the old mantle and we let that dry.
Jason built the new mantle in four different pieces. Two legs, one bridge and one shelf. All of these pieces were three sided boxes, kind of resembling [. He attached the two legs and the bridge together and we "dry fit" them on the wall so I could make sure I had the correct measurements for the tile. While he went to finish the "shelf" (top part of the mantle where I will put pretty things) I started on the tile... yup, I did the tile work! This was my first ever solo tile project.
I learned that you start with the top section of your tile but you must hang a ledger board to support everything. Start in the middle and work your way out. I let it set for about an hour and then began on the rest.
You are supposed to use another ledger board for the bottom as well but I cheated and just tiled from the bottom up. You let that dry for 24 - 48 hours and then grout.
Jason finished building the top part of the mantle. He then filled any nail holes with wood putty, sanded everything until it was super smooth and then painted it all white. When it was all dry, we attached the bottom half of the mantle using liquid nails, I love that stuff. I grouted the tile after that part was attached. (Already a HUGE improvement from what we had before)
We then screwed a 2x4 to the wall, making sure it was attached to the studs, and set the upper most part of the mantle on top of that. We screwed the top of the mantle into the 2x4 essentially attaching the mantle to the wall studs giving it lots of support. (If you are noticing that the top part is no longer white, the mantle may have fallen off the table while Jason was painting causing us to resand the entire top piece and then repaint)
We then finished touch up paint, hung our mirror, and ta-da... beautiful new fireplace! We finished the entire project for less than $250 including the rental of a tile saw and nail gun.
Thoughts?!?! (Besides the fact that the mirror is still not clean)