Concealing Fasteners for a Mantel Installation

Here are several ways to install a mantelpiece without exposed fasteners, and some advice on hiding fasteners if need be. June 12, 2014

I'm building a pre-finished (stained) fireplace mantel and was wondering how to attach it to the wall without seeing the screws? My only thought is to make some prefinished plugs and fill the holes. Are there any other ideas that I'm missing?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor Z:
If itís not too late, build it with a pocket in the back that will slide over a cleat you screw to the wall. You can then glue and pin nail it on, or screw from the underside to lock it on.

From Contributor D:
I try and use a pocket like Contributor Z but use pre-drilled holes in the top next to the wall more or less.You can make some face grain plugs and pre-finish them and tap them in. You can usually make a good color match.

From contributor M:
Try a french cleat on the top and bottom hidden inside. Squirt some liquid nails on them before you set it in place and it will be there for good.

From contributor L:
I second the french cleat Ė itís simple and effective.

From contributor J:
I agree with the cleat as well. As an option a mantel I sold was mounted in a floating position by pounding pins in the wall studs and drilling holes in the back side.

From the original questioner:
I'm installing the whole mantel box (67Wx50Hx17D) around the fireplace in one piece. Maybe I could go with an upper and lower cleat on each side of the fireplace. Wheels are turning, as usual.

From Contributor G:
I leave a molding off that is below the mantle piece and screw through there, then I use some 23ga nails to attach the molding. The rest is adhesive and maybe a trim nail here or there filled with a waxed crayon of the appropriate color.

From contributor O:
Screw and a flush plug is fine. You must know how to blend finish professionally.

From Contributor C:
By the sound of this you don't just have a mantle shelf but a complete surround with legs at 17" deep? I'm a fourth for the french cleat, that's how I do it. If you have a full backing on the box cut out enough to apply a cleat to the bottom of the shelf.

For deep legs I would apply blocking to the wall, (cut out the backing on the legs if it's present) then the legs slide over the blocking and use brads or finish nails to tack the legs into the blocking if it will be exposed or use screws if you can cover with a molding.

From Contributor B:
I use a keyhole bracket. This is mounted in a mortise on the backside of the piece. Screws are run into the face of the wall and the bracket slips over it.