How Far Should a Mantel Stick Out?

Your fireplace is the centerpiece of your living room, and the mantel adds personality to it. But aside from aesthetics, it also helps deflect some of the heat, making it important to have the proper depth. So how far should a mantel stick out to make it work without compromising how it looks?

A mantel should stick out at least 6 inches (15.24cm) from the wall. It’s the perfect depth that allows you to have a mantle effectively deflect heat without compromising aesthetics. You can extend it to have more depth for your decorative pieces, but we don’t recommend having it less than 6 inches (15.24cm).

Aside from the depth, there are several things that you still need to consider, including its height, width, and distance from the fireplace opening. We’ll talk about all of them in great detail, including some tips on how you can extend a mantel and the best way to attach it to the wall. Click here to learn how to measure a fireplace opening.

Proper Measurements When Installing a Fireplace Mantel

A fireplace serves as the centerpiece in many houses, but what makes it look so much better is the mantel. It adds personality to the fireplace that can match that room it is in, making it the best place for you to entertain your guests.

However, a mantel is more than just a decorative piece; it also prevents the heat from going up, which may cause damage to other decorations. Unfortunately, fireplace mantels are usually made of wood with intricate design features. That’s why it’s so important to minimize its heat exposure from the fireplace opening. 

These decorative pieces aren’t cheap, so you need to have the proper dimensions when installing them.

How Far Should a Fireplace Mantel Stick Out?

The average no matter the height of the room the depth of a fireplace mantel is 6 inches (15.24cm), which is more than enough for most fireplaces. It will help deflect some of the heat that the fireplace produces, preventing the other decorative pieces above the fireplace from too much heat exposure.

Aside from protection, the height it gives above the fire creates enough space for you to use it as a floating shelf. You can even extend it if you want to have more space above the fireplace, which some homeowners do, especially those planning to put their TV over the mantelpiece.

Your mantelpiece’s depth will depend on how you would use it and the design you want for it. Remember, it can serve as the centerpiece of your house, but you should never steer away from its primary purpose of providing protection from the heat that your fireplace produces.

How Wide Should a Fireplace Mantel Be?

It’s also important to consider your fireplace’s width because you need to make it wider than the fireplace, but not so much that it looks out of proportion to your fireplace. Balance is the key to ensuring that your mantel can provide you with the right combination of aesthetics and protection.

The recommended width for a mantel is 6 inches (15.24cm) wider on both sides. So, if your fireplace is 36 inches (91.44cm), your mantle should be at least 48 inches (121.92cm) wide. Whether you want to install pilasters or not, you’ll need to have the same width for your fireplace mantle.

Remember, a mantel serves to deflect some of the heat from the fireplace. Still, these pieces should have enough distance from the fireplace to prevent them from discoloration or any damage caused by too much heat exposure.

How High Should a Fireplace Mantel Be?

The distance of the fireplace mantel from the floor will be relative to the height of your fireplace. However, most housing codes and the National Fire Protection Agency require homeowners to have at least 12 inches (30.48cm) of the distance between the mantle’s underside and the uppermost part of the fireplace box.

This piece of the mantel should have the most space because its underside is the area most exposed to heat. Aside from the protection that it can provide for the decorative pieces that you install above the fireplace, it also leaves enough space to keep the mantel safe from the flames.

The dimensions I shared with you are the minimum distance you should have between your fireplace and the mantel. You can adjust it to make it proportionate to your fireplace, or depending on the purpose it will serve you, but it shouldn’t be less than recommended.

Here are some of the highest-rated mantels on Amazon:

  1. BELLAMY Fireplace Wood Mantel Shelf (72 in, Vintage Ash)
  2. Pearl Mantels 497-60-20 Celeste Mantel Shelf, 60-Inch, Espresso Finish
  3. Pearl Mantels 618-60 Crestwood Mantel Shelf, 60-Inch, White, 60 Inch

Extending a Fireplace Mantel

When it comes to using the mantle as a floating shelf, 6 inches (15.24cm) is usually not enough. Some of them aren’t even suitable for carrying heavy objects, such as TVs and other devices. That’s why some homeowners extend their depth to have enough space for the base of the TV. It is easier to extend a wood mantle than any other type.

If you’re going to place heavy objects over the mantle, it’s important to screw them properly into studs to create the stability and weight capacity that you want for it. To do this, you’ll need a wood plyboard with the same width and depth that is enough for your TV’s base. If you’re going to do this, your existing mantle will only serve as support for the extension you’re going to create.

Extending the mantle may help you create more space above a fireplace, but you also need to be careful not to make its depth disproportionate to the pilasters and the fireplace box.

How To Properly Attach a Mantel to the Wall

There’s no shortage of fireplace mantels that you only need to glue to the wall. It’s an easy and hassle-free way to install them, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Aside from not having enough stability for the mantle, it offers less protection from heat exposure.

Sure, looking for studs and drilling through the heat shield can be troublesome, but it’s the best way to attach a mantle to the wall. And if you’re planning to use it as a shelf, having better carrying capacity will allow you to put more decorative pieces on it.


Knowing how far a mantle should stick out is an important step to ensuring that you’ll have the perfect balance between aesthetics and protection. But it’s not the only thing that you need to consider when looking for a fireplace mantle.

The width, height, and distance from the fireplace are also important because these measurements will also prevent your mantle from too much heat exposure that may cause discoloration. Finally, it’s possible to extend the depth of a mantle, but it still needs to be proportionate to the other pieces and has enough carrying capacity to serve as a shelf.

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