An antique mantel can add class and visual appeal to a room, and depending on how well it has been cared for, it may be a durable unit that can withstand many more years of use. Any antiques, however, tend to be more expensive than newly produced models, and they may require more maintenance than a new mantel. Installing an antique mantel instead of a modern unit can also increase the value of a home, though installation may be more involved, since steps need to be taken to ensure the unit is not damaged during the installation process.
Two significant drawbacks to using an antique mantel are the potential need for refurbishing and the mantel's potential inability to meet modern fire and safety codes. If a homeowner chooses to invest in an antique mantel, he or she should be prepared to invest in some refurbishing costs. The costs can be lowered if the homeowner is willing and able to do the refurbishing on his or her own, but this can take a bit of skill and a lot of patience. Paying someone else to do the refurbishing takes less time and effort, but the cost will be more significant. Once all refurbishing is complete, there is no guarantee that the mantel will meet modern fire codes, so it is best to research fire codes at the local and state level before purchasing.
The beauty of an antique mantel can rarely be matched, so a homeowner who purchases such a unit is likely to get a unique piece that will serve as a focal point for a room. The mantel can also increase the value of a home, especially if the rest of the room is decorated in a similar style and with other antique items. It is important to remember, however, that antiques can be somewhat fragile, and can be damaged during transport and installation, thereby reducing the value and overall aesthetic of the piece. It may be wise to have a professional install the antique mantel to prevent damage, though this can, again, add to the cost of the piece.
Maintaining an antique mantel may take a bit more effort than maintaining a more modern version. The materials used to build the antique are already quite old and in some cases fragile, so cleaning and maintaining the piece may take more time and may need to be done more frequently, depending on the materials and the size and shape of the fireplace.