Living room with a modern fireplace

Ideal Types of Wood for Fireplace Mantels

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You can use different elements as the focal point of your rooms. The most familiar choice that fits virtually all rooms nowadays is a fireplace. Modern fireplaces are far from those seen in the past with ash and dirty rooms or unsightly surroundings. You can opt for a cleaner gas or electric fireplace nowadays. Other than the cleaner fuel option for your fire, you also have a range of material choices for your mantel to get an exquisite look.

Gleaning from companies such as Uintah Fireplace and Design, wood for fireplace mantels is now the favored option. The shelves serve not only a decorative purpose for your fireplace but also a functional one. As such, you can display photos and family heirlooms on the mantel to beautify your space. Still, not all wood types will make an appropriate fit for your shelf since some can be destroyed by heat and others are not as aesthetically pleasing.

Here are your best wood options for fireplace mantels:


This is a somewhat softwood species that is less costly compared to most options. In its natural state, poplar has green or brown streaks that can be easily painted to get your desired finish. Poplar is generally used for rustic fireplace appearances and resists swelling and shrinking. However, it needs considerable care since it is prone to swelling and shrinking.


There are two varieties of maple, including soft and hard, though even the “soft” kind is one of the hardest wood species you can find. It has white tones with somewhat reddish tinges. Maple is affordable, extremely durable, and easy to work with. Its straight, beautiful grain patterns distinguish this wood from other types. However, it needs exceptional sealing so that the staining does not appear blotchy.


This is the most popular wood variant for mantels. It is extremely durable hardwood with a straight, fine grain that ranges from blond to reddish brown. Cherry has an antique look because of its beautiful and rich color when left unstained. It polishes well, and it is easy to shape.  However, it is costly, and sometimes its natural color darkens over time.


Burning firewood in the fireplace

There are different oak types used for fireplaces, but red oak is a more popular option compared to white oak. Red oak has a pinkish red to light brown color with a water-like swirling pattern, while white oak has tiger-striped grains with yellow flecks and rays. Both oak varieties are warp-resistant, durable, and have a distinctive appearance. The ideal finish option for oak mantels is a clear one that will nicely highlight the wood’s grain. However, routine touch-ups are essential since oak darkens excessively and this will exaggerate its grain and make it look two-faced.

The given wood species are your best fireplace mantel choices since they can withstand the heat from your fireplace. However, they will only work when sourced from a reputable supplier and installed professionally. You can choose to match your mantel’s wood choice to the other types of wood in your room or get a different one to make your fireplace stand out.

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