Mantel Brackets Guide

Mantel brackets are support brackets that hold and carry the mantelpiece of a fireplace. Aside from supporting mantels, you can use these brackets in various ways to keep a shelf up, a countertop, and other furniture.

Now you may be asking yourself, "what are mantel brackets?" Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about these brackets and the different ways you can use them in your household.

What Are Fireplace Mantels?

Mantels also referred to as mantelpieces, frame the opening of a fireplace and cover a part of the wall.

It was initially created within the medieval period to serve as a hood that would stop smoke from getting into the room, diverting it into the chimney. Since then, it has typically become an ornamental element, performing the same purpose as a shelf.

For a while, the mantelpiece became the home's main attraction and provided an opportunity for sculptors to demonstrate their eye for details and carving skills. As fireplaces became less common in new homes in favor of modern heating methods, mantels became less popular. However, for several centuries, they were often the main decorative and inventive feature of a home's living area. 

Manufacturers often make mantels using materials like marble, limestone, granite, or fine timber. They are usually thick and flat on top so people can place ornaments like candlesticks, clocks, or framed pictures.

What Are Mantel Brackets?

There are many various kinds of shelf and mantel brackets, and these brackets are frequently classified and split according to their materials and how they look.

While metal mantle shelf brackets are frequently stronger and used to support various systems, wooden frames are more popular and often used to lift fireplaces and floating wooden shelves. Different metal brackets can perform multiple tasks, frequently supporting different weights and performing only functional or decorative duties.

Mantle shelf brackets are braces that can support a mantel and a shelf, frequently through a secondary system, but may be attached directly to a wall. There are numerous different shelving systems that you can use with various types of mantle shelf brackets.

For wooden constructions like bookcases that the brackets need to complement, wooden brackets are relatively common. These brackets can support a substantial weight capacity and are generally stronger than metal brackets. Manufacturers also use iron, bronze, steel, and other metals to create various sizes and shapes for metal shelf brackets.

Additionally, there are a variety of shelving systems that may hold shelves or mantels with various bracket designs. In floating shelves, manufacturers design the shelf and the bracket to hide the bracket for aesthetic purposes.

In fixed bracket systems, a shelf or mantel is on top with only a few brackets attached to the wall. In building shelves that are adjustable to different heights, adjustable slotted shelving uses several vertical slotted rods mounted to a wall.

Uses Of Mantel Brackets

In your home, a mantel bracket can support windows, doorways, ceilings, floating shelves, fireplace mantels, countertops, and archways. Usually, these are made of wood and metal and protrude from a wall to carry the furniture's weight. They can also become decorative elements for your living spaces, adding visual interest beneath shelves or fireplace mantels. 

Installing brackets under entryways, balconies, roof eaves, window ledges, pergolas, and porches can add personality, character, and visual details to your house's exterior. In addition to architectural uses, there are plenty of ways to creatively use mantel brackets for functional reasons, like using them as curtain rods or hanging clothes on them.

Categories Of Mantel Brackets

Here are some categories to take note of with mantel brackets.


L-brackets, also known as angle brackets, are the easiest to use among the other types. They are a good option for uncommonly sized shelves as they do not have a front lip.


These brackets have leg support underneath the shelf, ensuring the board will sit tightly on the wall. They work well for pre-existing floating shelves that need additional support, as you can add them without removing the shelf.


Among the other categories, the J-bracket is the best option for creating sturdy shelves while achieving the floating effect. With this bracket, the front lip comes around the shelf and holds it tightly.

How To Install Mantel Brackets For A Fireplace

Tools you'll need: 

  • Drill (with a hammer feature if you are mounting on stone or masonry)
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver

Step 1: Find The Studs In Your Wall

First, you must take the drywall down to reveal a wall stud. You can also search for the studs manually without removing the drywall, but that would take much more time and effort.

Additionally, it might be an excellent time to modernize or repair any of the fireplace's mechanical issues. Afterward, you would need to measure and draw lines to mark the precise height at which you should mount the mantel after removing the drywall. You can mount the brackets after finishing this step.

Stainless steel hex bolts are the best choice if you want to be extra cautious or have a larger weight capacity. With these heavy-strength hex bolts, you will have the best hold that will last a lifetime.

You may want to insert the top or bottom screw of the brackets so you can adjust and maneuver it to the angle you prefer.

Step 2: Drill The Mantel Bracket Holes

Drilling holes into your hardwood mantel is the next step. Given that the dowels are circular and should easily slip into the wooden mantel, these holes must be flawless.

After drilling the holes for the brackets, you can slip the mantel onto the wall bracket. Put a tiny piece of adhesive at the end of the bracket if you're concerned about the mantel sliding. This adhesive will establish a solid hold while allowing for pressure removal.

Remember that you want to install the mantel while the wall is still gone to test your measurements. Everything is still exposed if you need to make any alterations.

After you are sure the length, thickness, and other measurements on the mantel are accurate, remove the mantel and reapply the drywall. Unless you plan to remodel the wall or paint it fresh, be careful in reapplying the drywall.

Step 3: Install The Mantel

You can permanently reinstall the mantel when the decorative parts are in place, and the drywall is again applied. You can use a few drops of glue to the brackets, but it should glide onto the studs without difficulty.

You will have a floating mantel bracket with a lot of support after completing your project. Remember that attaching your brackets to more wall studs will increase their weight capacity.

How To Install Brackets For A Shelf

Tools you'll need: 

  • Drill
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil

Step 1: Find The Studs In Your Wall

To start, locate wall studs with a stud finder. Once again, you can use other manual methods to find studs, but it may take longer.

Use a battery-powered or magnetic stud finder to find the studs in your wall. The first tool uses density to find the studs covered by drywall, while the second detects the nails or screws holding the drywall to the studs.

Mark each stud's location using a pencil as you move the stud finder straight across the wall.

Step 2: Plan The Locations For The Brackets

The next step is choosing the ideal location to place shelf standards after marking the studs. Plan to attach a standard to each stud if they are 24 inches apart. If the wall studs are 16 inches apart, you should set the brackets for a basic shelf at 32 inches.

A shelf should not protrude more than 6 inches past the side brackets. Accordingly, you can utilize shelves up to 76 inches long if, for instance, you intend to use three standards that are 32 inches apart.

You can consult the manufacturer's instructions to find the ideal spacing for your standards if they carry hefty weights.

Step 3: Drill The Bracket Holes

To prevent your drill or screwdriver from slipping, you can use a center punch to make a small dent in the center of each mark. To prevent plaster or paint from splitting, you can also place a small piece of Sellotape over the drill hole.

The next step is drilling. Although a drill is better for this task, if you have the patience and arm strength, you may make do with a screwdriver. It is far preferable to drill a pilot hole in the wall before inserting the screws than to attempt to screw the brackets in place all at once.

Step 4: Attach The Brackets And Install The Shelf

Next, fix the brackets to the wall by screwing them firmly and flat with the surface. The bracket screws should be gently pushed into the pre-drilled holes on the rear of your bracket after aligning them with the holes.

Take your floating shelf and place it on the recently built bracket to finish. 

FAQs About Floating Shelves, Fireplace Mantels, And Brackets

Here are some of the most common queries about mantel brackets.

Generally, we recommend you first measure your mantel in the direction you want to mount it. The most important dimension is the distance the mantel will sit away from the wall. This dimension will match up to the length dimension on our mantel brackets. We typically offer brackets that have the same size length and height for maximum stability.

  • How Much Weight Can Floating Shelves Hold?

The weight capacity of a floating shelf ultimately depends on two factors: how you hang the shelf and the material. Ideally, you want to attach the bracket of your shelf too as many wall studs as possible. For every stud your bracket is linked to, your shelf can hold 50 lbs. That means if you connect your shelf to two studs, your shelf can safely handle 100 lbs.

  • How Can I Find Wall Studs?

The most reliable method is to search for a light switch or a power outlet. The reason behind this is that electrical boxes are typically attached to studs. You can also use the "knock method," in which you lightly knock on your wall with a hammer.

If you hear a hollow or empty sound indicating no stud in that area, you would have to tap further away. On the other hand, if you hit an area where it sounds muffled, it could be a sign that you have found a wall stud.

You can also use a handheld stud finder. You must hold this device against your wall and slide it horizontally to the left or right. Once it detects a stud, it will either flash or beep to alert you.

  • How Do I Secure A Shelf To A Bracket?

Although you can slide some shelves onto a bracket, most shelves need to be safely secured before you can properly use them. One way you can do this is by applying clear silicone sealant on the bracket rods and into the deep holes of your shelf to lock it down. You can also use screws, though it may take much more time and effort.

  • Can I Install Brackets Over Drywall?

Yes. First, you would have to locate the studs behind your wall, and once you have found them, you can start installing your shelf using a drill, anchors, and screws. Most brackets can be installed over drywall using anchors and screws.

  • Can I Mount A TV Above A Fireplace?

Yes. You should only mount your TV above a fireplace if temperatures in that spot do not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you must install a proper mantel and build an alcove to protect your TV from heat damage.

Increasing the operating temperature of a TV can shorten its lifespan. It would be best if you also considered that soot and ash from the fire could potentially damage your TV and void its warranty.