The finest quality mantels are constructed of wide pieces of solid hardwoods selected for consistent color and grain patterns. Cheaper products are made of narrow pieces glued together, often having highly varied colors and grain patterns, making them prone to warping and splitting.
Collinswood Designs combines choice materials and dedicated craftsmanship to create a mantel that will satisfy for generations. Our success derives from attention to details...from initial design to construction, finishing, quality control and packaging.
Poor quality mantels are constructed of plywoods and wood by-products to save cost. While veneers have a legitimate place in quality furniture construction, low-quality plywoods made of cheap "rotar cut" veneers glued to weak core materials are likely to peel apart when exposed to the heat of a fireplace or the moisture absorbed from a masonry wall. Plywoods and wood by-products may also give off toxic fumes slowly over time, polluting our air.
After lumber is freshly cut from the log, it is dried before being made into furniture. As it dries, it shrinks and twists unpredictably. If not completely dry before assembly, furniture will warp and joints may spring apart. This is especially a problem for mantels exposed to the drying heat of a fire. Mantels constructed in a dry climate have an advantage since lumber is often drier during construction and less likely to dry any further. All wood furniture can absorb moisture from the environment causing minor swelling. But warping is unlikely if wood is: 1) properly dried at time of assembly and 2) built to anticipate and withstand moisture changes. This applies to plywood as well.
Prevention is your best approach. First, select your mantel from a reputable manufacturer which guarantees against warping caused by improper drying or faulty construction. Next, your mantel should be sealed with a surface finish such as lacquer, urethanes, etc. These will slow the rate at which wood absorbs or loses moisture, either from the air, or from accidental spills.
Would you trust your trim carpenter to build your dining room furniture? Then why a complex mantel? With a quality factory-built mantel, you can benefit from the efficiency and experience that comes with specialization. You can also see the design and construction of your mantel before you buy, through catalogs or in-store displays.
A full service manufacturer can adjust the size of their mantels to correspond to your particular fireplace, the size of your hearth and surrounding walls, and local fire codes. We provide easy to use ordering guides to obtain the measurements needed, and then help to plan your custom installation.