What are the Different Types of Mantel Shelves?

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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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Mantel shelves are available in many different styles and materials. Most are made out of wood, stone, brick, or metal, and some are made of tempered glass. Styles range from ornate to plain, with many variations in between. Early American, French country, Louis XIV, and Versailles are popular styles. Traditional and contemporary mantel shelves are also very much in vogue.

Wood mantel shelves are the most common. They can be made of solid wood or a less expensive faux wood, such as medium density fiberboard (MDF). Veneered MDF can look attractive and be as sturdy as a solid wood shelf. Unfinished wood mantels are available that can be painted to match any décor. This is a good choice for someone designing a home who still hasn’t decided on a color scheme.

Mantel shelves made of wood come in different styles. A person buying a mantel shelf for a log home may opt for the rustic look of a rough plank, or might choose a half-log shelf. Another person might prefer a more ornate, hand-carved wooden shelf.

Popular natural woods used for mantels include oak, mahogany, walnut, maple, and pine. Some other woods often used for mantel shelves are poplar, hemlock, Douglas fir, and cherry. Solid wood shelves can be expensive, but they don’t cost as much as stone.


Mantel shelves made of stone are more durable than wood, and will last for decades or even longer. The most common types of stone used for mantel shelves are limestone, granite, and marble. Sandstone and travertine are sometimes used for mantels as well. Marble is the most expensive stone, but will give a regal look to the room. If a stone mantel shelf is beyond the budget, it is possible to create a façade with the look of stone by using a kit made for that purpose.

Glass mantel shelves will look attractive in any décor. Tempered glass is always used for a mantel, since it is sturdier than regular glass and won’t shatter into sharp shards if knocked. A glass mantel shelf will highlight the decorations placed on it and allow for the use of artful lighting.

When selecting a mantel, style and color are important considerations, along with price. A mantel shelf can be a dramatic focal point of a room, or it can blend in with the other design elements. Since the mantel shelf will be a significant feature of the room, it is important to choose a style and color that will complement the decorating theme of the home.


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