A mantelpiece, also known as a mantel or a chimneypiece, is an accessory to a fireplace. In its simplest form, a mantelpiece consists of a shelf that is wall-mounted above a fireplace. Such a shelf may be little more than a honed and polished board, or it may be ornately carved and stained. The term mantelpiece has also grown to encompass the decorative facing that can surround a fireplace. These kinds of mantelpieces provide a fireplace and the shelf above with a unified, integrated look that many homeowners find pleasing. Even in these types of installations, however, the word "mantelpiece" is often used to refer to the shelf at the top of the unit rather than to the entire unit itself. Mantelpieces are generally used to display photographs, and other items of sentimental value. Owners should be careful to consider heat issues when placing items on a mantelpiece as the proximity of the fire may cause damage to delicate items.
Types of Materials Used in Mantelpieces
Mantelpieces are available on eBay in a wide array of styles, but in the majority of cases, they are made out of one of three principle materials: wood, stone, and cast stone.
Wood is one of the most common materials used for mantelpieces. Although it is possible for mantelpieces to be made from any type of wood, the use of soft woods such as pine is relatively rare. Most wooden mantelpieces are made from hard woods that offer a relatively smooth grain. Popular woods include oak and cedar. The use of hard woods is generally preferable because most wooden mantelpieces are honed and carved to achieve a particular decorative effect. A very simple wooden mantelpiece is likely to consist of nothing but a perfectly edged board. Simple mantelpieces may also have their edges bevelled, for example, or may feature small motifs carved into the surfaces. Wooden mantelpieces can also be highly ornate, featuring detailed carvings that call to mind the master craftsmen of ages past.
Decorating Options for Wood Mantelpieces
Wooden mantelpieces may be purchased stained, painted, or unstained. The unstained units offer homeowners the highest level of flexibility when it comes to matching their existing decor precisely. It may not be possible, for example, to find a mantelpiece emulating authentic tropical ironwood, or even one pre-stained to a desired shade. An unstained mantelpiece is a solution to this problem as any desired finish can be applied. In addition, unstained mantelpieces can have a variety of decorative effects layered onto them if desired, including stain, antiquing, and stencilled figures. In addition, wooden mantelpieces are often a very cost-effective choice compared to their plaster or stone counterparts. Wooden mantelpieces that include a full facing for the fireplace in addition to a shelf will naturally cost more on average than those that consist of a shelf alone.
Stone mantelpieces may be simple or complex depending on the style required. Marble is a common material used for making impressive stone mantelpieces. Because marble is a natural stone formed by geological processes over millennia, most pieces of it show some degree of variation in colour and pattern. This is widely considered to be one of the main charms of marble. Although marble itself is available in an extensive range of colours, the four most commonly employed for mantelpieces are white, beige, black, and green. Three of these are classified as neutral colours unlikely to clash with any particular decorating scheme. Green is a bolder choice that is more likely to look out of place in some settings. Other natural stones commonly used for mantelpieces are limestone, slate, and granite. Both marble and granite are heavy, dense materials that need to be extensively worked even if the mantelpiece will consist of a simple geometric design. Stone mantelpieces are commonly carved in elaborate patterns; some of the most popular include cherubs, sunrises, and botanical elements such as flowers and leaves. Although stone mantelpieces tend to be considerably more expensive than wooden ones, they are much more durable. Wood can acquire scratches and chips over time, particularly with hard use. It can also discolour over time if it receives direct sunlight. While it is possible to damage a stone surface, the amount of force required is significant, which means that accidental damage is much less likely with stone than with wood.
Cast Stone Mantelpieces
Wood and stone are natural products, but "cast stone" refers to a synthetic material that resembles the look of natural stone, including limestone, marble, and granite. Cast stone mantelpieces offer significant advantages over authentic stone units in certain respects. They are much lighter, which can be an extremely important consideration when purchasing online at sites such as eBay; lighter items, of course, can save shoppers a great deal when it comes to shipping charges. Cast stone mantelpieces also tend to be less expensive and are easier to install. This last advantage is in part because cast stone's lighter weight makes it easier to shift around and move into position. Both cast stone and natural stone are highly fire-resistant. This means that mantelpieces installed around a fireplace can feature minimal clearances. In some cases, zero clearances are possible. This can create a pleasing aesthetic and may also be quite a useful feature when space is in short supply. Wooden mantelpieces, of course, are not very fire-resistant.
Decorating Options for Cast Stone Mantelpieces
There is really no need to alter natural stone mantelpieces, as their appearance is so impressive. With cast stone, however, customisations are quite feasible. This process is often called "faux finishing" because it will cause the cast stone to acquire the appearance of other materials including wood and stucco. A cast stone fireplace mantelpiece that is faux finished to resemble wood allows homeowners to enjoy the warm appearance of wood while knowing that the mantel is in fact extremely resistant to heat damage. Faux finishing can also mimic the look of highly costly stones such as marble or granite. Faux finishing can also include using sculptural plaster to raise designs on the surface.
Decor Considerations for Mantelpieces
Adding a mantelpiece to a fireplace or replacing an existing one is an excellent way to update the decor of a room. The new mantelpiece should fit into the existing colour scheme, but it can subtly shift the palette in a new direction that will give the room a distinct makeover. Apart from colour, homeowners must consider style. Mantelpieces can consist of roughly hewn boards, even ones deliberately left with uneven dimensions, for a truly rustic look. Victorian mantelpieces are popular to this day, in part because older authentic ones are still on display in some homes, making this an enduring style. Many new mantelpieces for sale online still exemplify traditional Victorian styling, which features ornate motif carving. Also popular are modern mantelpieces that are simpler, often consisting of geometric designs.
Find Mantelpieces On eBay
To find a mantelpiece on eBay, a good place to start is the Fireplace page located in the Home & Garden section. Shoppers can work down from there by selecting Categories on the left hand side and clicking on Mantelpieces & Surrounds. This will generate an up-to-date list of all sorts of mantelpieces including wooden and stone options. Those who have already decided on a particular material may wish to use eBay's search function to see a more specific range of options. The search box is located at the top of most pages on the eBay site, making it easy to access even when a shopper is many pages "deep" in the site.
A fireplace mantel provides a place to display cherished keepsakes and also creates a more finished appearance for a fireplace installation. Although simple mantel shelves are widely available on eBay, mantelpieces also commonly include additional pieces. These allow a fireplace to be surrounded on all visible sides so that it can be fully dressed out to match or coordinate with the existing decorating scheme present in a room. Fortunately, it is quite simple to browse a variety of mantelpieces on eBay and find the one that will best suit the needs of a particular homeowner.