How to Make a Chalkboard Fireplace With Mantel

Chalkboard Mantel

I love mantels. For me, there is no better place to decorate for the holidays (or any other time for that matter) than a beautifully-crafted mantel. Unfortunately, I live in a home with no fireplace. However, when I found a gigantic, shabby mantel at a local thrift store (it turns out lone mantels are a thrift-store basic in Knoxville, Tenn.), I decided I wasn’t going to let no fireplace equal no mantel.

Naturally, I didn’t want an open hole where the fire would normally go, so I racked my brain for ideas on how I could fill it. I desperately wanted to make it into a bookshelf, like this one I found on Design Sponge, but my mantel is far too thin for shelves. Finally, I came up with an idea (later Pinterest proved to me that I was hardly the first to come up with this idea), and I got to work.

So, what was this not-so-original idea? A chalkboard fireplace! For someone like me, who is constantly changing her mind about everything, a chalkboard — where I can mix up designs for holidays, parties or any other time — seemed like the perfect solution. Bonus? It took far less time and stress than building a bookshelf. And if I get tired of the chalkboard, I can always paint over it or add a wallpaper back. Want to make one of these for your home? Here’s how.


Step 1

 Open GalleryMantel Before

First things first. Search thrift shops and ask around until you find the perfect mantel. I passed up a couple until I found one at a price I could handle. I got this one for $50.

Step 2

 Open Gallery

For a big mantel like this one, you will probably need about 3 cans of spray paint and one small can of chalkboard paint. I also used primer that I had left over from another project.

Step 3

 Open GalleryBefore priming, measure the empty space behind your mantel (where the chalkboard will find its new home), and cut the plywood to size. Next, prime the board and sand. I primed my board outside, so it was covered in bugs before it had a chance to dry. Whether your board is covered in bugs or not, don’t forget to sand!

Step 4

 Open GalleryAfter the primer is dry, it’s time to dip into your chalkboard paint. My board required two coats of paint, and using a small can, I still had some left over.

Step 5

 Open GalleryAfter you have cleaned and sanded your mantel, it’s time to paint. You may want to spot check and use primer where needed (I skipped this step and really wish I hadn’t!). In an attempt to avoid brush strokes, I opted for white spray paint, doing several light coats and draining three cans of paint.

Step 6

 Open GalleryHuzzah! It’s finally time to attach the chalkboard. Assuming your first measurements were correct, you should be able to flip the mantel over and fit the chalkboard right in. Now’s the time to make any adjustments if necessary.

Step 7

 Open GalleryAs you may have guessed, these man hands do not belong to me. A big shout out goes to my dad who helped me with this project as I try to get over my fear of power tools. Use your staple gun to attach the board on both sides and the top. We stapled every few inches.

Step 8

 Open GalleryNext, to alleviate any slack at the bottom of the chalkboard, add a piece of 1 x 4 (we used spruce) to run along the entire width of the inner mantel. A couple of screws on each side should do the trick.

Step 9

 Open Gallery You’re almost done. Now just flip the mantel over, and it’s time to draw your design. I chose to imitate this roaring fire by Brian Patrick Flynn, but the great thing about a chalkboard is you can draw whatever you want (and change it as many times as you want)!

Step 10

 Open GalleryTa-dah! Now your crafty, mantel-framed chalkboard fireplace is just waiting to be decorated (and redecorated)!

Project Resources




  • Mantel
  • 4′ x 8′ x  5/16″ Lauan Plywood
  • 1″x4″ board (long enough to go across the bottom of your mantel)
  • Primer
  • 2-3 cans of spray paint
  • 1 small can of chalkboard paint


  • Sanding block
  • Drop cloth
  • Circular saw
  • Foam paint roller and handle
  • Paint pan and liner
  • Staples and staple gun
  • Screws and drill
About Keri Sanders 


I’m an aspiring Renaissance woman with a passion for crafting. On any given weekend, you can find me scouring the web for fun new design ideas, continuing my quest to ...

More About Keri Sanders

7 Responses

  1. Hmm, it may be possible if you cut a board to fit the measuring of the fireplace opening, then attached it on the sides and top of the opening.

  2. hgtvcamille says:

    Go Keri, what a great idea that's just in time for holiday entertaining. :)

  3. Liz_HGTV says:

    Keri, this looks fantastic! I, too, am without a fireplace…but maybe not for long??

    • Keri_HGTV says:

      Thanks, Liz – you should definitely give it a try! There are so many ideas for mantels. I still want to do the bookshelf mantel one day!

  4. Keri_HGTV says:

    Hmm, it may be possible if you cut a board to fit the measuring of the fireplace opening, then attached it on the sides and top of the opening.

  5. Guest3030 says:

    i already have a mantel installed but my landlord boarded up the chimney. Is this still possible to assemble?

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