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Adding an Electric Fireplace and Mantel to a Blank Wall

Nolan enjoys taking on new projects and has remodeled several homes over the past twenty years, including this recent renovation in Austin.

Before and after installing electric fireplace and mantel.

Before and after installing electric fireplace and mantel.

Does Your Living Room Need a Focal Point?

After purchasing our older, builder-grade home in Austin, Texas last year, we were a bit disappointed that it lacked a fireplace and mantel in the living area. Our previous home featured a working fireplace, complete with a rustic wooden mantel, and we really missed having a crackling fire to watch on cold winter days, as well as a place for hanging our stockings during the holiday season.

Exploring Our Options for Adding a Fireplace

We briefly explored the possibility of adding a wood-burning or gas fireplace to our living room, but soon realized that the cost for installing one would be far more than our budget could bear. Adding a working gas or wood-burning fireplace to our living room would end up costing just under $10,000, which included the fireplace, cost to build a new wall and running a chimney or flue up through the attic to the roof.

A second option, which we hadn't really considered, presented itself to us when we stayed at a nicely appointed little Airbnb in Charleston, SC which featured a 60" Touchstone electric fireplace. After our stay, we messaged the owner and found that the unit was fairly easy to install and the entire installation had cost less than $900. We quickly decided this was the best way we could add a fireplace to our living room, without it costing a fortune.

First mark the area on the wall where the box for your electric fireplace will be located.

First mark the area on the wall where the box for your electric fireplace will be located.

How Hard Is It to Install an Electric Fireplace Into a Wall?

There are actually several different ways that you can install an electric fireplace in your living room. Which method you choose depends on both the type of look you're going for, and the kind of wall the fireplace will be mounted on.

Non-Recessed Mount

The easiest way to mount an electric fireplace is to simply attach it to the wall using the included mounting hardware. This type of mount can be done by those with simple hand tools in a matter of minutes.

This option isn't the most aesthetically pleasing though, since you can still see the sides of the electric fireplace, but it is the quickest and easiest way. We recommend that if you're going to spend several hundred dollars on a nice electric fireplace, you should go ahead and install it permanently.

Recessed Mount Into Existing Wall

We installed our Touchstone 60" electric fireplace into an existing interior wall. To do this, we used tape to mark off where the fireplace would be installed. Then, after confirming this wall was non-load bearing, we marked the area where the recessed mounting box would be created, then carefully cut away the drywall in that area.

Next, we used a reciprocating saw to cut out three of the studs and created a recessed box using 2x4s. The dimensions of the box required for our model of electric fireplace were 62 1/2" wide by 16 7/8" high by 4 1/2" deep. After framing out this space, we called an electrician to come and add an electrical plug inside the wall, where we could plug in the fireplace without having any exposed cords.

We were able to install our Touchstone 60" electric fireplace into an existing wall, since it was neither a load-bearing wall nor an exterior wall. Either of these situations would have required us to build a false wall.

Recessed Mount Into a False Wall

A third mounting option for installing an electric fireplace is to build a false wall which you can mount the unit into. For those with basic carpentry skills, this can be a fairly simple job that only takes about half a day to complete. This type of installation will still require a recessed electrical outlet, for which an electrician may be required.

If you plan on installing your electric fireplace along a load-bearing or exterior wall, you'll most likely have to use this false wall method.

A rustic wood mantle is a nice compliment to your electric fireplace install.

A rustic wood mantle is a nice compliment to your electric fireplace install.

Adding a Wood Mantel Above Your Electric Fireplace

A nice final touch for your electric fireplace installation is to add a rustic wood mantel to the wall above it. We found this distressed wood mantel on Etsy, from the seller URBANDI, which offers several colors and styles. These solid-looking wooden mantels are actually partly hollow and attach to your wall with anchoring brackets.

Our cost for the rustic wooden mantel was just over $200, and installation only took about 30 minutes. To install this type of wooden mantel, all you need is a level, screwdriver or drill/driver and a stud finder.

Electric Fireplaces: Great for Any Season

While our Touchstone electric fireplace isn't our primary source of heat, it does include a 1,500-watt hearing element along with a forced air fan, which can help take the chill off the room on cool days when we don't want to turn on the furnace.

On most days, we enjoy our electric fireplace without the heating element turned on. This helps save money on our electricity bill, and we love it that the our electric fireplace has three different flame settings and five intensity settings so that we can match the display for the occasion. Also, a handy remote control lets us turn the fireplace on and off from across the room.

If your living area has a blank wall and you'd like to create a nice focal point, you may want to consider adding a built-in electric fireplace and mantle to that space. We simply love ours!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Nolen Hart