One of the questions we get often is “How do you install a beam mantel?” When I installed one of our mantels made from a reclaimed hand hewn barn beam for my mother recently I thought it would be a great chance to take some photos and try to write up a little guide for how I like to install them.
Locating the holes for the mounting rods.
I used 3/4″ diameter all thread which I picked up from the local home improvement store in 12″ lengths which were perfect for this mantel.
Hammer drilling the holes for the rods.
I drilled a 7/8″ diameter hole 4″ deep into the brick, then cleaned out all the dust and put anchor bolt epoxy in the holes. This can be messy so I taped a bag under the drill to catch most of the dust.
Checking the rods for level
Notice I have the rods supported temporarily so they stay level for the 5 minutes or so it takes for the epoxy to set. I used anchor bolt epoxy which is a two part epoxy specifically designed for attaching structural steel components to masonry. It requires a caulk gun to dispense. It’s a bit messy and you want to over fill the holes a little, so be sure to protect the area around the holes as well as the area under the holes from any excess.
Layout the holes in the mantel.
Measure twice, drill once.
Drilling the holes in the back of the mantel.
Notice that I have clamped a straightedge to the top of the mantel. I can sight from above to make sure my auger bit is running parallel to the straightedge and I periodically stop the drill and bend over to look from the side to make sure the bit is going in parallel to that top face of the mantel. I’ve accurately drilled holes 8′ deep into the end of beams this way — works every time! BTW – I used a 7/8″ auger bit for this operation.
Construction adhesive for the mantel holes
Any high quality construction adhesive works for this. You don’t want to use wood glue or polyurethane glue or epoxy as those do not have any “give” and as the beam shrinks and swells seasonally the glue will not move with it and the glue bond will be broken. Construction adhesive is designed to have a little elasticity so that it can accommodate the seasonal movements of wood without failure.
Putting the construction adhesive in the mantel holes.
I filled the holes about halfway full then slid the mantel onto the rods. (You may want to test the accuracy of everything by dry fitting the mantel onto the rods without glue first!)
Fine tuning everything
You can see the temporary props I have under the beam mantel to help hold it level while the construction adhesive dries. Move quickly during this step – the glue starts to harden after a few minutes. Once the glue is dry you can remove the props and you’re all done!
And that’s all there is to it. As always if you have any questions, please give us a call or shoot us an email. We’ll be glad to help any way we can!