The Making of a Slip Covered Mantel

See an adaptation of this project in my 2017 holiday home tour 

As you may remember from this post–in order for me to finish my friend’s den, on my list of things to do was to build a beam styled mantel to mimic the “wood” beams that are on the ceiling of he den/family room.In order to do so, I had to come up with a plan to cover the old brick (?) mantel with a sort of slip cover.

We had contemplated painting the beams or removing them, but opted instead to try to make them work in the room.

So, after painting her fireplace, it went from this:


to this:


and then to this, after building a slip cover-mantel/beam:

How to update an old brick fireplace with a slip covered mantel

With great inspiration from The Lettered Cottage’s fireplace re-do and pic from see photos respectively, below) We decided to go with a beam style mantel. 


Since the previous mantel was made out of cement brick and because I hadn’t planned on doing any masonry demo (nor do I know how to, lol) I built a mantle slipcover.


So here’s what I used:

  • 3-8’ long 1×6 pine boards (Her mantel was 6’10” long, huge right?)
  • liquid nail/caulking gun
  • nail gun (I used a good ol’ fashioned hammer)
  • nails (I used finish nails)
  • stain
  • foam brush
  • rags (to clean liquid nail and to wipe stain)
  • saw (I used a jig saw)
  • Drill and cement screws (to anchor box to existing mantel–Unfortunately, I don’t have many pics of the process because my camera died!!!)

Here’s what I did:

I cut each board about an inch longer than the existing mantel (so 6’ 11”) and used the remainder of one of the boards to cut the sides of the box/mantel, which were each 6 1/2”

Next you should ( I say should, because I did this after I built the box, but It probably would have been better to do this prior to building it) beat up the wood  some, let the kids wear off some energy(with supervision of course 🙂 or take your frustrations out on it with a hammer, a razor or some scissors as I did.


I then began to build my box.

I placed one pine board on the floor and lined the other on its side in front of it, liquid nailed it, made sure it was flush, and nailed it together. Spacing and hammering the nails about every 12 inches along the board. I then liquid nailed the sides(short pieces) and nailed them in place as well.



After the boards are nailed, be sure to wipe up any liquid nails with a damp cloth, because it is a pain to get off later.

Next, flip the half of box over and do the same as the first step, this will be your bottom of the box/slipcover. This last piece of wood should fit nicely in between your two side pieces.

Now you will have a box, minus one side . . . slip this directly over the existing mantel and secure it in an inconspicuous place ( like the top) with masonry/cement screws).

It should look like this (minus the stain, I told y’all I just get a head of myself sometimes):

How to update an old brick fireplace with a slip covered mantel

I then began to stain the “beam”. I used two different stains because I’m indecisive and was getting anxiety trying choose one in Home Depot to get the color I wanted. 


The stains I used were Minwax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany first, then Minwax Ebony (this comes out just as it’s named– ebony, vey dark!) Although I was going for dark, I wanted to still see the wood grain to mimic the ceiling beams.



How to update an old brick fireplace with a slip covered mantel

How to update an old brick fireplace with a slip covered mantel

As you can see in these pics, the left side of the mantel is darker than the right. This is what it looks like before it is wiped and smoothed, so you can control the depth of color.

How to update an old brick fireplace with a slip covered mantel

          How to update an old brick fireplace with a slip covered mantel  

Note: Although the end result came out great, if I were to do this again, I would miter the corners so that the wood fit together more seamlessly).

So what do you think? I was thinking of going over the actual fireplace with a creamier antique-y type of paint just to lessen the brightness and contrast of the fireplace, but overall I like it!  Please share your feedback, I thrive off of it!

How to update an old brick fireplace with a slip covered mantel

See the progress below:

Den-Family Room1

Updated variation of this project for 2017:  Ikea Hemnes Shoe Cabinet Mantel


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  1. Lisa @ greylustergirl
    January 15, 2011 / 6:06 am

    Love it! We are moving into a place with a bad fireplace and I was excited to see a great option here!

  2. Brandi
    January 15, 2011 / 6:19 am

    Wow Carli! You have done an amazing job. Seriously the mantle is awesome! A+++!!! I love that the stain matches the beams on the ceiling! I can't wait to see more of the room! I bet your friend loves her new space.

  3. Carli
    January 15, 2011 / 6:47 am

    Thanks Lisa! the best part about it is that it's removable if she gets tired of it! Good luck in your new place!Brandi, I love it too! I was so proud of myself when I was done, because I was having some doubts! More pics will soon follow, just have to do some more finishing touches! Thanks for following the progess!

  4. Dana
    January 16, 2011 / 2:08 pm

    What a difference!!! You did a great job.

  5. AllieMakes!
    January 20, 2011 / 9:37 pm

    Ok. You have to link this one too! Stinking Amazing! You have seriously helped me solve my mantel issue! THANK YOU!

  6. rebecca @ older and wisor
    January 20, 2011 / 9:45 pm

    FANTASTIC!! It looks like it's been there forever. And two stains isn't indecisive…'s just "layering the color for a richer finish." Which, by the way, seems to blend in perfectly with the beams. Well done girl!

  7. Mr. Goodwill Hunting
    January 27, 2011 / 2:18 pm

    Now this is an amazing mantle. It looks so modern and warm at the same time. You put some great effort into this. I am on board as a follower to see more.Mr. Goodwill Hunting

  8. Lettered Cottage
    February 22, 2011 / 8:13 pm

    SWEET!You did an awesome job and I know you're lovin' the transformation!Thanks for linking up to our How To's Day linky party!:-)

  9. Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants
    September 1, 2011 / 2:26 pm

    I love it! It's such an improvement, modern and fresh. You may want to slightly add a wash or lightly sponge some paint on and mush is around just to give it some depth. I have a brick mantel and have wanted to do this for some time so I am thrilled to have so ideas on what to do. Did you attach it to the brick mantel or did you put boards on the wall to attach to? Great job!!!

  10. Stacy@{share and remember}
    September 2, 2011 / 1:31 pm

    Beautifully done! So much better!

  11. Adrienne Henry
    June 2, 2015 / 11:07 pm

    Wow that's gorgeous. How did you connect it to the exististing mantel? Is it load bearing enough to support a flat screen television?

  12. Unknown
    February 19, 2016 / 5:03 pm

    This is exactly what I need to do for a very grungy stone mantle….this will make it pop. Thanks for sharing.

    • Carli A
      July 20, 2016 / 1:07 am

      So glad to offer some ideas!

    • Carli A
      July 20, 2016 / 1:07 am

      So glad to offer some ideas!

  13. Unknown
    May 31, 2016 / 5:30 am

    Love it! Exactly what I will be doing but my fireplace is the length of the entire wall :/ So hoping it turns out as nice!

    • Carli A
      July 20, 2016 / 1:06 am

      That's awesome! I hope it turns out well !

  14. Lonnijo
    August 24, 2016 / 7:36 pm

    Looks great! I also need to make a mantel like this for my fireplace. How did you attach the mantel to the brick?

    • Carli A
      August 24, 2016 / 9:05 pm

      Hello and thank you! I attached the beam with liqyid naul and masonry screws, plus it was rather substantial and heavy that it wasn't really moving, I hope this helps 😊

  15. Liah Anderson
    October 1, 2016 / 1:00 am

    Wow Carli! this is an amazing project! It came out so pretty!

  16. Anonymous
    October 14, 2017 / 9:40 pm

    You did an awesome job!!! You've encouraged me to DIY it. Here's my problem, I want to change the red brick on the fireplace, but I don't want to paint it nor do I want to permanently reface it. I may want to revert back to the natural brick some day. I need something that can be easily removed. I will surely make the mantel cover to go over my marble mantel, but stuck on a temporary cover of the bricks. What do you suggest? Thanks!

  17. Carli Alves
    December 30, 2017 / 2:46 am

    There are definitely ways to build a frame that “floats” on top/in front of it, in which you can remove once you are “over it”. That would definitely be the route I would go since I like to change things up so often.

  18. w serrano
    November 18, 2019 / 12:37 pm

    How Great! Thank you!!

  19. Heather
    April 26, 2020 / 12:45 pm

    Would you do these same steps for a wall-to-wall mantel? I have a fireplace, all brick from wall-to-wall and waines coating on the top. The mantel is brick. I love this!

    • madebycarli
      April 28, 2020 / 6:36 am

      Hi Heather, yes I think this would work perfectly on a wall to wall mantel, it basically serves as a floating shelf. Good luck with your project! Let me know if I can help in anyway.

  20. Stacey
    June 17, 2020 / 10:24 am

    Hi Carli,

    Love love the mantle, mine right now looks like it’s from 1970. I am absolutely going to try this out. I want mine a “vintage” white color. What do you think about using white chalk paint and rubbing the wax on it to give it that vintage look? I have never done it before but have read about it.

    • madebycarli
      June 19, 2020 / 7:39 pm

      Hi Stacey! Thank you! Unfortunately I’ve never used chalk paint, so I’m not really sure how that would turn out, but it sounds like it would be amazing. This project was completed quite a while ago, so if I were to do it now, I’m sure I would have used a different technique. Good luck with your fireplace!

  21. Dipan Kaur Jackson
    January 26, 2022 / 8:43 pm

    Hi Carli,
    What kind of screws did you use? Did you use a hammer drill? Masonry bit? Any fasteners? Etc. I’m trying to upgrade my mantel .. thank you.

  22. Tony
    March 29, 2022 / 7:41 pm

    Hi Carli. Love the look of the mantle. I want to do that very exact project. The brick fireplace wall is jagged or slightly uneven, not flat or consistent. Same as I see in your pictures. I have an existing concrete mantle. Was there much of a gap between the new mantle and the jagged brick? If so what would you recommend to fill gaps if any? Thank you. Tony

    • madebycarli
      March 30, 2022 / 10:21 am

      Hi Tony, I don’t recall there being any major gaps, it was such a huge improvement that the gaps (if any) probably didn’t bother us☺️ I suppose you could add some trim and caulk if it was really bothersome☺️. Good luck with your project.

  23. Danielle
    September 13, 2022 / 8:09 pm

    Hi Carli!! Absolutely love your fireplace make over!! May I ask what type of paint you used initially to paint it white? How has it held up since you painted? I have that same style currently in our home and needless to say it’s far from my favorite. Thank you!

    • madebycarli
      November 4, 2022 / 8:06 am

      Hi Danielle, thanks so much! it was so long ago, I’m pretty sure I used regular latex paint in satin.

  24. Christopher Hoagland
    November 4, 2023 / 11:32 am

    Hi Carli,
    I came across your site while looking for a DIY Mantel Idea. This looks perfect for us. I was wondering if you had placed a piece of wood as a bottom cover. So, if you were to look up from the ground, you would see a wooden piece and not the old mantel. Thanks

    • madebycarli
      November 4, 2023 / 7:25 pm

      Hi Christopher, yes, There’s a top and bottom price, so it’s like a hollow shelf that just slips over the concrete one. Hope that helps!

  25. Shawn
    April 12, 2024 / 4:05 pm

    Love the fireplace mantel slipcover !

    • madebycarli
      April 12, 2024 / 8:22 pm

      Thank you!!!🥰

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