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Mounting a Mantel: What Height is Right?

Monday June 25th, 2018

Knowing the difference between proper, standard and optimal

When it comes to home decorating, it’s clear that one-size-fits-all projects aren’t realistic. What works for a friend or family member’s home doesn’t mean it will work for your home. With different dimensions, styles, aesthetics, and layouts, there are no “universal rules” that apply across the board. Rather, there are “best practices” to follow when approaching any home improvement project.

In this article, we’ll cover some best practices for gauging how to find the right height for a mantel no matter what the size of your living room or fireplace. A perfect example of this approach can be seen in what is considered “proper” mantel height for a fireplace. Although there are generally some standards for the height and width for a fireplace, where it sits within a room depends on each home’s individual layout. With that in mind, “proper” is more subjective than exact.

If you’re thinking about mounting a mantel or flat screen, but aren’t sure how high should a mantel shelf be above a fireplace, we’ve got you covered. Let’s break down what you need to know to get the job done — and done right!

Standard Mantel Height

Again, “proper” height is relatively subjective to your fireplace, but average or standard fireplace mantel height construction is around 54” above the hearth’s floor. Your fireplace may fit this dimension or it might be on the shorter or taller end of the spectrum when it comes to mantel height above fireplace.

What may be deemed “proper” height for a small cottage’s fireplace won’t translate to a fireplace in a mansion with vaulted ceilings, but knowing the average could help you identify a good starting point.

Optimal Mantel Height

If you’re seeking an optimal mantel height over a fireplace, there are a few things you need to keep in consideration – and again, these may differ from fireplace to fireplace. 

  • First, you need to calculate the distance between the bottom of the mantel and the top of the firebox. Based on mantel height codes and recommendations from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), sources indicate that the bottom of the mantel must be at least 12 inches above the top of the firebox. [image]
  • Next, you need to know what is the mantel projection distance from the wall. If the mantel placement projects less than 1.5 inches from the wall, you can place it closer to the firebox according to fireplace clearance codes. Conversely, the deeper your mantel is, the higher your mantel mounting measurement will be (6 in. deep = 15 in. high, 8 in. deep = 17 in. deep and so on). [image] 

Once you’ve solved that equation using your own home’s dimensions, you should be left with a clearer indication as to the optimal height of a mantel for your home’s hearth.

TV Shelf & TV Mount over a Mantel

It’s the 21st century. Long gone are the days of giant cathode ray tube TVs and cumbersome big screens. Today, most homeowners have replaced that prized art piece above their fireplace for a moving picture show in the form of glorious flatscreen TVs that are almost flush with the wall itself.

LCD screens are the perfect substitute to go above your hearth, but how do you know the proper mantel height for your TV to ensure your is in prime viewing and safe from the heat? Determining the correct mounting distance comes down to three questions based on the height of your fireplace and distance from couch.

  • Is the mantel less than 4 feet from the floor (or do you not have a mantel)? If so, you’re going to want to mount your TV around 12 inches above the mantel or fireplace.
  • Is your fireplace mantel taller than 4 feet from the ground? If so, consider splitting the difference and mounting the screen 6 inches higher than the fireplace.
  • Is your couch at least 8-10 feet away from your fireplace? That distance is the average optimal distance for watching TVs that range from 50” – 65”

Prior to mounting, make sure you’ve tested the temperature of the wall above the fireplace. If your roaring fire can heat the wall to 100 degrees or hotter, then you could risk damaging your television set.

Pro Mounting Tip:

When mounting a TV above a fireplace, make sure to give it a slight downward tilt to make the viewing angle easier and clearer.

Mounting a mantel or a TV above your fireplace may not be an exact science, but there are certain steps and dimensions you can follow to make your new mantel and/or TV as enjoyable – and safe – as possible.

Thinking of adding a mantel to your home? Check out Rustica Hardware’s striking selection of mantels in a variety of finishes. We even offer custom mantels to suit your style and fit your room’s dimensions. 


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