How to choose the right wood for your fireplace mantel

We make Fireplaces from 1920s Art Deco fireplaces and classic Edwardian fireplace and mantel designs.

1920s and 1930s Mantels

In the inter-war period some lighter woods came into fashion, notably light walnut and lighter oak and mahogany finishes especially with mantels in the “Modern” style.

High end pieces were often completely veneered mantels on a hardwood frame. The spraying of lacquers became common at this time, replacing the labour intensive French Polishing methods.

Darker finishes on these woods were still popular with more traditionally derived styles of mantel, and very dark “Jacobean” wood finishes especially in oak were common. Poplar, often stained very dark was quite widely used as a cheaper alternative to mahogany.

Very few mantels were painted during the inter-war period with a natural wood finish being preferred.

Post War Mantels

Large wooden mantels continued to be popular after the second world war up until the late 1960s. These were usually hardwood with Oak prominent as a material of choice

Sustainability and suitability

The majority of bespoke mantels that we now manufacture are made in Oak.
We can guarantee that Oak from Europe or North America will have come from a managed forest and will be replanted. You can have no such guarantee with mahogany.

If a paint finish is needed, we would recommend Poplar as a stable and not too expensive wood.

Almost all wood is now “Force Seasoned” in kilns. Consequently it is not as stable as wood that has been air dried by more traditional methods. Pine is especially vulnerable to splitting and cracking once it gets put in the very dry environment of a centrally heated house.