When it comes to installing a mantle for a fireplace, people like to have an aesthetic and safe mantle. Generally, the mantle should be safe and non-toxic.
Because the fireplace mantle frames the opening of a fireplace. Besides, the mantle also covers part of the chimney breast. So, using a safe mantle is essential.
So, you might be confused about whether you can use a railroad tie for a mantle or not. Well, you have to know whether the railroad tie is safe to use for a mantle or not. Moreover, knowing the consequences of installing a railroad tie for a mantle is also necessary.
Can I use a railroad tie for a mantle?
You should not use a railroad tie for a mantle. Though many people use railroad ties for installing a mantle. But railroad tie is not safe. Because railroad tie has a coating on it named “Creosote”. Generally, creosote is highly flammable as a mantle. Moreover, it also produces toxic fumes.
When we install a mantle for the fireplace, we should be highly conscious. Because the fireplace is one of the most sensitive places in our house. We should not use any material as a mantle that is toxic.
So, you might have seen many people use railroad ties for a mantle. Generally, they might have installed the railroad tie from an aesthetic viewpoint. But railroad tie is not safe at all.
Generally, when we want to install a mantle for the fireplace, we should choose a beam that was once part of a barn frame. This type of beam is pretty safe as a mantle.
But when you use railroad ties, it can leach out toxic elements. Generally, the toxic elements are there from the beginning of manufacturing. Even these elements can harm the environment while being a part of a railroad tie.
So, when you install a railroad tie in your house, it can be flammable. Moreover, if the tie is burnt, unsafe and toxic fumes will be generated.
Why shouldn’t you use a railroad tie for the fireplace mantle?
A railroad tie is not safe to use for the fireplace mantle. So, you should not use it. Some specific reasons are responsible for which you can’t use a railroad tie for the fireplace mantle. So, let’s see why you shouldn’t use a railroad tie for the fireplace mantle.
Railroad ties are highly flammable. Generally, railroad ties have an element called creosote. This element is used on railroad ties as coatings.
But creosote is flammable when it comes close to fire. So, if you use a railroad tie for the fireplace mantle, there will be a chance to catch fire on the mantle. So, it’s not safe to use a railroad tie for the mantle.
Generally, when the railroad ties come close to a fire, it will release fumes. The fumes coming out from the railroad tie mantle will release the fumes with creosote. This fume is highly toxic.
So, the toxic fume can lead you to certain health issues. That’s why railroad tie mantle is not safe to use.
Treated railroad ties are full of different harmful chemicals. For example, chromated copper arsenate is another element of railroad ties. Besides, pesticide products are also used on railroad ties to protect the wood.
But these chemicals are banned for residential use. So, you should not use railroad ties in your house for the fireplace mantle.
Keeping creosote products like railroad ties in your house can lead to some health problems. For example, exposure to creosote products can cause skin blistering or peeling.
Moreover, treated railroad tie fumes can cause inhalation problems. Besides, if the chemicals are mixed with water, it will cause water contamination.
This can lead to further medical issues. So, you should not use railroad ties for the fireplace mantle for safety.
Harmful to pets and plants:
If you use railroad ties for the fireplace mantle, it will also be harmful to pets and animals. Generally, the toxic chemicals that come out from the railroad ties are also dangerous for pets and animals. So, you should not use railroad ties in your house.
Are all railroad ties treated with creosote? How to tell if railroad ties have creosote?
Yes, most of the railroad ties are treated with creosote. Generally, railroad ties are wooden most times. About 95% of railroad ties are made of wood. Among these 95% wooden railroad ties, 98% wooded railroads are coated with creosote.
Generally, creosote works well as a protective coating. So, most of the railroad ties are treated with this. But some of the railroad ties that are made of concrete, steel, plastic, etc., are not treated with creosote.
The first thing you can notice to identify creosote is its color. Generally, creosote is made of the distillation of tar from wood. So, creosote appears as a dark-colored wood. So, a creosote-treated wood will look like blackish wood with clogged pores.
How to make a DIY faux railroad tie fireplace mantel?
If you want to make a DIY faux railroad tie fireplace, you have to follow the appropriate processes. So, let’s see how you can make it.
In this method, you can make the mantel following the conventional method. You have to collect the aged faux railroad tie first. Then you have to cut the pieces properly according to the desired measurement.
You have to attach the pieces with screws and attach them with adhesive too.
Generally, faux DIY mantel making is pretty the same. So, you can modify the process according to your choice. For example, you can paint the railroad tie for making it more beautiful.
First, you have to follow the same process as the conventional method. You have to cut the railroad tie pieces and join them together with screws.
Then you can sand the pieces and stain them with colors. You can modify the ties with decorative items to make them look good.
How do you support a heavy fireplace mantel?
Fireplace mantels are generally made of wood, concrete, steel, etc. These materials are heavy enough. So, if you want to make a floating fireplace mantel or hanging mantel over the fireplace, you have to make a support for the mantel.
You can either hang it with ropes from the ceiling or make a support from the ground. You can also attach the mantel with screws using a drill on the wall.
For this, you will need multiple screws that will support the mantel. Otherwise, you can use two extra stands from the ground that will hold the mantel.
How thick and what size should a fireplace mantel be?
Generally, a fireplace mantel should be 3 to 7 inches thick. Many people use thicker mantels. But up to 7 inches is a standard thickness. Besides, the width of a fireplace mantel should be 48 inches.
If you want to make a simple and thin fireplace mantel, you should keep the width 42 inches and thickness 3 inches. But if you want to install a heavier mantel, you can keep the width more than 48 inches and thickness 7 inches.
Besides, you should use a wider mantel than a TV to make the mantel look good.
How to hang a faux railroad tie mantel?
If you want to make a floating faux railroad tie mantel or hand a faux railroad tie mantel, you can follow a step-by-step process. Let’s see how you can hang a faux railroad tie mantel.
Making the mantel:
First, you have to make the mantel from a faux railroad tie. For this, you can collect pieces of railroad ties and join them together with adhesive or screws. But make sure that the surface is smooth. So, you can sand the surfaces and stain them with colors.
Drilling sleeve and mantel holes:
Then you have to drill sleeve holes from where the mantel will be hanging. You can drill with a 3/4″ masonry bit. The sleeve should be 3 inches deep. So, you can mark the bit to know the depth. You also have to drill the same depth holes in the mantel.
Inserting sleeves and lag bolts:
Next, you have to insert the sleeves on where the mantel will stick to. Then you can insert a 10″ lag bolt into each sleeve. Attach all the bolts and tighten them to secure them.
Finally, install the mantel by lifting the mantle into place. Then push the mantel firmly onto the lag bolts.
Railroad tie is pretty popular for use as a fireplace mantel. But you should not use treated railroad ties as a mantel. Because treated railroad tie has some harmful chemicals. These chemicals are flammable. Moreover, the chemicals release harmful fumes that can be dangerous for humans and animals.
I am an architect with over 5 years of experience in the design and installation of interior and exterior design projects. I have also been a home improvement expert for many years, so I know how to improve your home’s look and feel. I would love to help you build the perfect home for your family!
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