How to Make a DIY Fireplace Mantel & Built-in Bookcases

Marly Dice
by Marly Dice
20 Materials
3 Days

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to build a DIY fireplace mantel with built in bookcases.

Step 1: Do a Mockup with Tape

As you can see in this image, we used masking tape to a mock up of where the mantel and built ins would go before we started the project!

Step 2: Gather Materials

For this project, we used:

  • (3) 4×8 sheets (1/2 inch) of Ecuadorian Plywood – (used for the majority of the project, for the mantel including the mantel posts and as backboard to connect the bookcases & mantel. Jason hand cut these boards for the entire mantel to make a board and batten style look.)
  • (8) melamine boards 1′ x 3/4” x 8′ – (used for the bookshelves sides and shelves. 4 of these boards were predrilled with bookshelf holes and used as the sides of the bookcases.)
  • (2) 1/8th” 4” x 8” melamine sheets for back of bookcases
  • 3/4” x 2” trim board on shelf exteriors
  • 3/4” x 8” x 16′ primed pine wood for mantel shelf 
  • 3 5/8” crown for mantel
  • 2 x 4 lumber (used as wood anchors to drill plywood into)
  • Caulk
  • 1/2” shelf tabs for bookshelves
  • crown molding for the top of the entire unit
  • Rotary hammer drill (used to drill into brick to attach 2 x 4 wood anchors)
  • Compressor and finish nail gun (used to shoot in the plywood to the wood anchors)
  • Cordless skill saw(used to cut plywood for the whole project, including making board and batten for mantel)
  • Wood glue(used to join two pieces of wood together before nailing them)
  • Liquid nails Have Duty construction adhesive (used to secure plywood to brick)
  • Tapcon concrete screws (used to fasten the wood to the brick wall)
  • Drill
  • table saw
  • Miter saw and stand (used to cut small board and batten as well and base trim on mantel posts)
  • Oscillating tool (used to touch up cuts)
  • Sledge hammer (used to knock down bricks that were sticking out of brick wall)
  • Level
  • Measuring tape

Step 3: Add wood anchors

To build the mantel, we had use a rotary hammer drill to drill into the brick. We attached small pieces of 2 x 4 lumber using tap con concrete screws and made sure they were aligned using a level.

Step 4: Create wood box

Next, we created a wood box using Ecuadorian Plywood to be the foundation of the mantel. We secured it over the 2 x 4 wood anchors.

Here's how it looked once the top section was done!

Step 5: Repeat this process for the "legs"

Here's how it looked complete.

Step 6: Make the Mantel Top

Here's the components of the mantel.

Step 7: Add crown molding & board and batten

We secured crown molding to the edge of the mantel for a finished look on the top of the mantel.

We used more Ecuadorian plywood to create a board and batten look on the mantel base.

Step 8: Create middle section

We have an uneven fireplace so we made a middle section to separate a second section for storing wood. If you have a fireplace in the middle of your room, you can skip this part.

Step 9: Make Custom Bookshelves

To build the bookshelves on either end, we used (4) 1′ x 3/4” x 8′ melamine boards that had predrilled bookshelf holes. These made up the sides of the bookcases.

We used (4) 1′ x 3/4” x 8′ melamine boards that didn’t have any predrilled holes for the actual shelves. We had to cut these to fit perfectly in the bookshelves.

The backs of the bookcases were made of (2) 1/8th” 4” x 8” melamine sheets.

Lastly, we added 3/4” x 2” trim boards on the shelf exteriors. This made the bookcases look even better!

Step 10: Add plywood to remaining brick

Jason secured plywood to the remaining brick to connect the bookcases and the mantel, which made it look like one cohesive unit.

During this process, we had to move the electrical so that we could easily hook up the TV without having cords hanging down everywhere.

Step 11: Paint it White

I used the color Ultra Pure White by Behr Paint. It is a beautiful bright white and such a high quality paint.

Step 12: Decorate!

Here's how this area looks now! I love it so much.

For more information and the full tutorial for our DIY Fireplace & Built Ins, check out this post on my blog.

Affordable Home Upgrades

For more exquisite and budget friendly home improvement projects, explore our article on Home Improvements That Look Like They Cost Thousands.

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Marly Dice
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 5 questions
  • Jean Chalupsky Jean Chalupsky on Jan 22, 2022

    It looks very nice and up-to-date. The white mantel, and an active wood fireplace seems like a nightmare when removing the fireplace ash. Did you protect the white hearth direct at the opening of the fire opening?

  • Bj Moore Bj Moore on Jan 29, 2022

    Absolutely beautiful, you did a great job. Can I please ask about the 2 chairs? The color and style is stunning. What brand are they? Thank you in advance.

  • Wendy Dailey Johnson Wendy Dailey Johnson on Jan 20, 2023

    You did a great job .. it looks so much better .. wonder why the fireplace wasn't centered in the room/on the wall

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