Installing molding around a fireplace adds character and completes its design. It also makes it blend better with the interior of the house and provides a transition from the wall to the fireplace area. It defines the area and makes it more distinct from the other parts of the room, since many consider the fireplace to be the central design feature of a house. Here are some steps on how to install the molding effectively.
Step 1 - Assemble the Molding
Before assembling the molding, prepare it by sanding and priming the whole thing; however, do not apply the finishing touches yet. This will be done later, when it's completely installed. Get the top part of the molding and place it face down on the floor. Place it over a rug or some fabric to avoid scratching it. Next, get one leg (the vertical portion that connects to the mantle, which is the horizontal portion at the top) and fit it into the mantle or top shelf of the molding. You may need to apply a little pressure to get it completely in. Once it is in place and is straight, lock both pieces together by turning the knob found on the top shelf. This knob locks both parts together. Repeat the same step for the other leg.
Step 2 - Test Fit
Prop the molding on the wall of the fireplace and align it to the opening. Ask a friend for some assistance in doing this. Place a level on the mantel to make sure that it is level. Add some wood shims underneath in order to get the exact level of alignment. Make an outline of the molding on the wall as your friend holds it in place.
Step 3 - Install Cleats
Get the measurement of the horizontal portion (mantel) and the legs. Cut 3 2x4-inch lumber pieces, corresponding to these lengths, and attach them to the wall: these are your cleats. Bore holes in the wall and attach the cleats (the 2x4-inch pieces that you cut) right inside the outline that you drew.
Step 6 - Install the Molding
Now, get the molding and put it over the cleats that have been fastened to the wall. If you measured them correctly, the molding should fit snugly onto them. Get your drill and make some screw holes on the top shelf of the molding. Make sure that they are aligned to the cleats underneath, so that the screws have somewhere to latch onto. The screw holes should be spaced evenly apart, and 4 or 5 will be enough, depending on the length of your mantel. Do the same to the legs of the molding, drilling in screw holes and aligning them to the cleats.
Step 7 - Secure the Molding
Fasten the molding to the cleats, by driving in 2-inch finishing screws into the screw holes that you just made. Do this to the mantel and to the legs of the molding.
Step 8 - Finishing Touches
Attach the edge molding to the inner portion of the molding, right by the fireplace opening. Use a hammer and drive in some nails into the edge molding. This should provide a finishing touch that covers the space between the molding and the wall. Use the caulk gun to fill in the gaps and put some putty over the screw heads. Paint and finish your fireplace molding with whatever color or theme you want.