Fireplace Mantels; How Hot Do They Get (Per Fireplace Type)

A fireplace mantel is a stunning piece that finishes the look of any fireplace. It’s also a common spot for homeowners to decorate, but how hot does a fireplace mantel get?

A fireplace mantel can withstand about 185 degrees Fahrenheit of heat. When lighting your fireplace, the temperature of the mantel should be well below 185 degrees and more in the range of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This will be warm to touch.

Mantels are commonly used as a sort of shelf, so it’s important to know how hot they get before you decorate them with potentially combustible items. Most mantels are safe, but in some cases, they can get too hot. This article will discuss how hot a mantel gets and how you can protect it from too much heat.

How Hot Does A Fireplace Mantel Get?

A mantel is designed to withstand 117 degrees Fahrenheit above room temperature. This comes down to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, give or take. The material your mantel is made of also plays a role, as wood mantels are less heat-resistant than stone mantels.

A mantel is part of the fireplace surround, which, as the name suggests, surrounds the fireplace. The mantel is the top part and is often used as a shelf. Now, the mantel is the part that’s the most protected from heat, but it still warms up, sometimes to the point where it feels hot to touch.

Something becomes very hot to touch at around 150 degrees Fahrenheit, but most things are already warm before that. Keep in mind, room temperature is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Luckily though, a mantel never gets too hot unless the fireplace is installed incorrectly. A testament to that is the fact that mantels can be made out of wood, a combustible material that can in no way be used for any other part of a fireplace.

And despite mantels heating up slightly, they always stay at a temperature that allows you to decorate however you like. It is always a good idea to be a bit weary with decorations around your fireplace, especially those made of combustible materials, but a few candles or a mirror would be perfectly fine.

Can A Fireplace Mantel Get Too Hot?

When a fireplace is installed incorrectly, a lot of heat can build up inside the firebox, causing the surround and mantel to get too hot. Flue problems could lead to your mantel getting too hot, as the heat has nowhere to go, but a mantel installed too close to the firebox could also be the cause.

Mantels don’t usually get too hot unless something is wrong. A normal-functioning fireplace never heats the mantel up too much, so if your mantel is too hot to even touch, there could be some serious issues.

The typical clearance for a mantel is a minimum of 12 inches. This means there should be a gap of at least 12 inches between the firebox and the mantel. If there’s any less space in between, the mantel is too close to the actual fire, at which point, it poses a fire hazard.

And of course, the closer the mantel is to the actual firebox, the warmer it will get.

Aside from the clearance, the type of fireplace you have also plays a role.

Electric Fireplaces

In general, electric fireplaces will never heat your mantel up too much. They don’t contain an actual flame and are very similar to any generic room heater.

They typically give off about 5000 BTUs, which is enough to heat a room of about 400 square feet but not enough to overheat a mantel.

Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces can reach temperatures as high as 1000 degrees Fahrenheit inside the firebox. The mantel, however, is generally safe from overheating, as gas fires are highly controlled and safe.

Unless something is installed improperly, a gas fireplace should not overheat your mantel.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces

Although gas and electric fireplaces are capped in their heat output, wood-burning fireplaces can vary widely in temperature output. It all depends on what woods you’re burning and how large of a fire you’re making.

In general, just like the other types of fireplaces, a wood-burning fireplace cannot overheat a mantel as long as everything is installed correctly. However, temperatures can vary depending on the different kinds of wood you’re using.

Here’s a quick rundown of common types of wood used in wood-burning fireplaces and what temperature the wood burns at:

How hot certain woods burn

Ash, Elm, Beech, and Hornbeam1832 degrees Fahrenheit 
Birch, Larch, and Oak1652 degrees Fahrenheit
Pine, Redwood, and Spruce1157 degrees Fahrenheit 

Hardwoods tend to burn slower, which leads to a hotter fire. And if the fire is hotter, the parts surrounding your fireplace will get hotter too.

Despite the fire being hotter, even wood-burning fireplaces don’t overheat the mantel. Again, unless something is installed incorrectly, there is nothing to worry about. However, it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye on the mantel if you’re burning hardwoods and/or creating a large fire.

How Do I Protect My Fireplace Mantel From Heat?

If your fireplace mantel is getting too hot, you should check if your flue is open. If it’s closed, the heat has nowhere to escape to. Alternatively, you can install a fireplace blower or a heat shield.

Mantels generally don’t overheat, but when they do, it’s a sign that’s something’s wrong. Here are a few things you can do or check to protect your fireplace mantel from overheating!

1. Make Sure The Flue Is Open

Before making any radical changes, you should always check if your flue is open or not. The flue is the airway from your fireplace to the outside, and if that’s closed, the hot air has nowhere to go. Naturally, this causes the areas surrounding your fireplace to heat up as well.

If your flue is closed, make sure to open it as soon as possible. With a fire come fumes and smoke, and just like the hot air, these fumes have nowhere to go, so they stay inside your home. Sometimes, your smoke can contain toxic fumes, and you don’t want those within your home.

2. Install A Fireplace Blower

A fireplace blower helps circulate the heat around your room. It essentially blows the hot air away from your fireplace. This also means the hot air is blown away from your mantel so that it won’t heat up as much.

Dan Westfield

Hi everyone! My name is Dan and I currently have two fireplaces, a wood-burning and a gas one. I cannot live without them and love to share my passion with you all!

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