How to Hang a Wall Mantle

Distressed mantle on wall

Heavy items like kitchen cabinets and wall mantles are easier to mount on the wall when you use a beveled cleat to hang them on.

The key to this method is to mount a cleat on the wall with a beveled top edge and a corresponding piece on the cabinet or mantle. The weight of the cabinet naturally makes it slide back towards the wall and holds it firmly in place.


  • The cleat is light weight and easier to attach to the wall than a heavy cabinet
  • If the cleat is level – the cabinet will be level
  • No visible screw holes to fill
  • Mount cabinets exactly where you want them

Here’s what you do:

Cutting the cleat

  • cut a 4 to 5″wide strip of 1/4″ or 1/2″ plywood to a length a couple of inches less than the width of the item you want to hang.
  • set the blade on your table saw to 45 degrees and rip the strip into two pieces.
  • cut a couple of small spacers or another strip the same thickness

Mounting the cleat and spacers to the mantle

Attach a cleat to the back of the mantle near the top, where there is enough solid wood to accept the screws. In my case, I used 1/4” plywood with two rows of  1″ screws to hold the weight. Mount the cleat with the beveled edge down and the bevel sloping up towards the mantle back – making sure it’s parallel to the top of the mantle.
wall cleat orientationcleat and spacers on mantle back

Attach the spacers or spacer strip near the bottom of the mantle back. These allow the mantle to hang vertically on the wall avoiding any outward pressure on the hanging cleat.

Mounting the wall cleat

Locate at least two studs on the wall where you wish to hang the cabinet. They don’t have to be centred in the space but should be on either side of the mantle centre. If there is only one stud within the hanging area, you can add a couple of substantial drywall anchors as well to be sure it will hold the weight.levelling wall cleatmarking stud locations>

Use a level to mark a line on the wall for mounting the cleat at the appropriate height. The cleat is mounted with the beveled edge at the top and the angle sloping back towards the wall. Drill holes through the cleat into the studs and countersink the screw heads flush to the cleat face. Use 2″ to 2 1/2″ screws and locate them close the beveled edge, especially if you are using a thin material such as 1/4″ plywood. This prevents the cleat from pulling away from the wall due to heavy weight.

Mantle and matching cabinetsHanging the Mantle

Once the cleats are mounted, lift the mantle into place against the wall and let it slide gently down until it hooks on the wall cleat. If you need to move it horizontally, lift it just enough to allow it to slide along the cleat until it’s positioned where you want it.

If you’re hanging a cabinet that will hold heavy items like dishes or glassware, use at least two – 1/2″ thick cleats (one at top and one at bottom). Add additional (and possibly longer) screws through the cabinet back into the cleat at the studs to make sure it stays on the wall where it belongs.

Here’s a way to use cleats to hang a heavy mirror.

Related Posts