All Replies on Fireplace surroung/mantel

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View AAANDRRREW's profile

Fireplace surroung/mantel

posted 11-28-2016 02:16 AM

5 replies so far

View AAANDRRREW's profile


213 posts in 1413 days

#1 posted 11-28-2016 02:26 AM

Heres a better pic – didn’t realize it would be so hard to see.

View Picken5's profile


267 posts in 2932 days

#2 posted 11-28-2016 03:20 AM

Your idea for the handling the wood parts of the surround sounds OK to me. I’ve built many such items that way. MDF is a decent material (flat, no warping, etc), but it’s pretty heavy compared to lumber such as pine or poplar. And it doesn’t hold screws very well, so consider that as you’re finalizing your plans.

Ship lap actually has rabbets along both edges so that the edge of one board can “lap over” the board next to it.

You might try nailing or screwing a sheet of plywood (cut to the appropriate dimensions of course) through the drywall and into the studs behind it. You could then attach the planks/ship lap to the plywood an number of ways — construction adhesive, or using nails/screws. You may want to use a nail-set to set the nails just below the surface of the planks and fill the small holes (which ought to be pretty shallow if you properly use the nail set) prior to painting. You could also attach the planks with a brad nailer which would automatically recess the nails/brads. This would have the added benefit of smaller diameter holes to fill. You may want to use construction adhesive to hold the planks to the plywood and use the brads to hold the boards while the adhesive drys. But you’d have to have a compressor and a brad nailer to do it this way.

-- Howard - "Time spent making sawdust is not deducted from one's lifetime." - old Scottish proverb

View AAANDRRREW's profile


213 posts in 1413 days

#3 posted 11-28-2016 05:58 PM

Thanks for the comments.

I would do pine boards, but to get the very nice smooth look she is going for I’d have to spring for the top quality boards, which will get pricey fast, especially if I make a mistake or 5. I do not yet have a planar so rough cut lumber isn’t an option at this point either.

Where I am still brainstorming and haven’t come up with a way to attach the surround to the wall. I think I’ll end up making a full box instead of the 3 sided boxes…but getting it affixed to the wall is the part I’m hung up on. Just seems like using adhesive wouldn’t be enough.

View canadianchips's profile


2616 posts in 3238 days

#4 posted 11-28-2016 07:15 PM

Picken5 nailed it ! (pardon pun)
Fasten plywood to wall first.
People here are using old barnboard , so having a smooth finish is not the end result. When we use these boards we sometimes even use the OLD nails that it was attached with 100 years ago. No nail set used!
Shiplap and smooth should not be used in same sentence. You either have one or other. Making shiplap look and feel smooth losses all effect of the board. “Thats only my opinion”

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1161 days

#5 posted 11-29-2016 03:14 AM


The pillars and the header could be boxed with a 3 sided MDF box as you initially thought. Although ½” thick MDF is probably fine, I would probably go with ¾” MDF. The pillars and header could be attached to a 2X sub-structure, where the sub-structure is attached to the wall. The method for installing the sub-structure would depend on how far out from the wall you want the finished faces of the pillars and header to project out from the wall.

If ½” MDF is the material from which the finished pillars and header are constructed and the finished face projection from the wall is 2”, 3-1/2” or 5”, then the easiest method would be to fasten 2X lumber on its face to the wall with screws. Once the first 2X is fastened to the wall, a second and third 2X could be attached to the first 2X. The width of the 2X would depend on the finished width of the pillars and the header; 4-1/2” for 2×4 lumber, 6-1/2” for 2×6, etc.

Alternatively the sub-structure could be a 1X ripped to the appropriate width. Two pieces of 2X lumber could be ripped to the desired width and then fastened to the 1X, where the 2X is on edge. One 2X would be attached flush with one edge of the 1X and the second 2X attached flush to the other edge of the 1X. The 1X could then be secured to the wall.

Once the sub-structure is in place, the MDF could be cut and nailed with finishing nails to the sub-structure.

The ship lap option is one approach to filling in the field above the mantel. Tongue and groove plank paneling is a second option. The advantage of the tongue and groove material is that it can be blind nailed through the tongue and the nails hidden by the groove in the next plank. Only the first and last planks would require face nailing. Since the wife wants to see the joints, the ship lap or tongue and groove materials could have beveled edges. I suspect you have already shopped around, but if not, here is some wall plank paneling available from Lowes.

If the frame surrounding and trimming out the plank panel is rabbeted, the rabbeted frame can hide any ragged ends, perimeter expansion gaps, and face nails in tongue and groove planking.

Picken5’s advice to install a sheet of ¾” plywood as a base for the planks sounds good to me especially if the plank paneling is installed vertically. Another option for vertically installed planks is to install furring strips to the studs 12” or 16” on-center running horizontally. This second option can save a little money and each furring strip can be shimmed to provide a flat base on which to install the planks. With careful marking you could forego the plywood and nail directly into the studs, but only if the planks run horizontally and the drywall is fairly flat. If the planks are horizontally installed and the drywall is not flat, shimmed furring strips could be installed on a diagonal. However, the nail pattern would follow the diagonal furring strips which would not look very good with ship lap planks, unless nail holes are completely filled and sanded flush before painting.

I am not sure that expansion of the paneling across it width would be much of a problem in your application if some precautions are taken. The first is an expansion gap on each side (width-wise) of the plank paneling field. The size of the gap would depend on the width of the plank panel field (the width of each plank added together). In this application a gap of ¼” to ½” on each side would probably be enough to allow the panels to expand width-wise. But if you want an expansion gap within the field (in addition to the ones on each side) , one approach is to butt the planks tight to one another except that at every 12” – 24” (or up to 6’) a 1/16” expansion gap could be provided. The second precaution is to apply finish or paint to all six sides of each plank before nailed in place. These precautions will help minimize expansion.

If you do not already have one, this sounds like the perfect time to buy a pneumatic nailer. It will make the project easier and quicker. A Bostitch kit with pin, brad, and finish nailers and compressor is about $200 at Lowes. I bought this kit a few years ago when I installed MDF wainscot paneling. My only regret was not buying the kit sooner.

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