Fireplace Mantel Design Glossary

Discover many fireplace mantel design terms and get a better understanding of the type of styles involved. If you have questions about your fireplace, check out our fireplace mantel shelf FAQs.

Antique Fireplace Mantel: 1) a fireplace mantel from an older generation (e.g. mid century, turn of the century); 2) a mantel piece designed to look like an original mantel from a stated period.

Break Front: the part of a fireplace mantel design where the frieze (e.g. decorative piece across mantel) sticks out in the center of the piece.

Caddy Style: a fireplace mantel design where the mantelpiece has flush edges.

Corbel: an arch or protruding support piece of a fireplace mantel designed to support weight.

Corner Mantelpiece: a mantel shelf designed to accommodate a fireplace positioned in a corner; typical corner fireplaces include electric fireplaces that do not require a flue or ventilation.

Flue: the pipe that leads from your fireplace upward to the top opening. The flue is designed to allow excess hot air and smoke to escape.

Mantel Kit: a do-it-yourself mantel building kit that either shows you how to build your own or includes unfinished pieces that allow for customization.

Patina: a finishing technique used on alloy surfaces such as copper or bronze, or other materials (e.g. wood) that gives the finish an aged look.

Rustic Fireplace Mantel: a fireplace mantel design where the finish of the wood has a rough, untamed appearance. This type of style is popular among wood cabin d├ęcor.

Sight Opening: the primary opening in a mantel (also known as the daylight opening).

Unfinished Mantel: a mantel shelf that hasn’t been finished with paint, a stain, or any additional type of finishing coat. This type of mantel allows for personalization of final finish.

Veneer: a thin piece of wood mounted to different material to give the non-wood material a wooden look. For example, a mantel piece that has thin oak pieces of wood applied to a fiberglass frame is considered to have an oak veneer.

If you have a fireplace without a shelf or surround, then you would follow these measurements. These measurements assume you have a facing, which is a decorative material like brick or stone surrounding the fireplace opening. If you don’t have a facing, skip those measurements. If you don’t have a hearth, which is a raised decorative surface on the floor beneath the fireplace opening, then measure from the floor and skip the hearth measurements.

Facing Height – Measure the height of the facing from the top of the hearth to the top of the facing.

Total Facing Width – Measure the total width of the facing from end to end.

Facing Width – Measure the width of the facing on one side of the fireplace opening.

Facing Depth – If the facing projects out from the wall, measure the distance from the outer edge to the wall.

Opening Width – Measure the width of the fireplace opening.

Opening Height – Measure the height of the opening from the floor of the fireplace, which is at the same level as the hearth, or the floor of the room if you have no hearth.

Hearth Height – Measure the height of the hearth from the floor to the top of the surface.

Hearth Depth – Measure the depth of the hearth from the front edge to the wall.

Hearth Width – Measure the width of the hearth from end to end.

Side Distances – Measure from the edge of the facing to the nearest light fixture, door, corner, or window on each side.

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