Fireplace surround

Why build a fireplace surround?

Creating a fireplace surround can be a fulfilling and transformative project, infusing your space with warmth and character. Whether you’re aiming for a sleek, modern design or a rustic, cozy feel, crafting a fireplace surround allows you to personalize your home while enhancing its aesthetic appeal and functionality.
In this article, we’ll explore materials and design considerations to help you embark on this rewarding DIY journey and craft a stunning fireplace surround that becomes the heart of your home.

Fireplace surround
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What is a fireplace surround?

A fireplace surround functions as an ornamental enclosure encasing the fireplace itself. It operates akin to a frame, accentuating the flames’ presence. Constructed from diverse materials such as stone, tile, wood, or metal, it not only ensures safety but also provides homeowners with an opportunity to showcase their personal style. Its impact on a room varies—some designs offer a subtle touch, while others serve as the central focal point, elevating the ambiance and visual appeal of the space.

What are the top materials to use on a fireplace surround?

Natural Stone fireplace surround

Natural stone Fireplace surround

There’s an enduring charm to natural stone surrounds. Materials like marble, granite, limestone, or slate offer timeless elegance and versatility. Each stone type brings a unique texture and color palette, allowing for various design possibilities. Marble exudes luxury, while slate brings rustic charm. These materials not only endure the test of time but also add a touch of natural beauty to your space.

Tile fireplace surround

Tile Fireplace surround

Tiles offer an extensive range of design options due to their vast assortment of colors, patterns, and textures. Ceramic, porcelain, or glass tiles are popular choices. They allow for creativity in design—creating intricate mosaics or sleek, modern patterns. Additionally, tiles are durable, easy to clean, and can adapt to diverse design styles, making them a versatile option for fireplace surrounds.

Wood fireplace surround

Wood Fireplace surround

Wood surrounds evoke a sense of warmth and coziness. From traditional mantels to more contemporary designs, wood offers flexibility in style and customization. Oak, maple, cherry, and reclaimed wood can be fashioned into elaborate designs or minimalistic frames, adding a touch of natural warmth to the space.

Metal fireplace surround

Metal Fireplace surround

For those seeking a modern and sleek aesthetic, metal surrounds present an appealing option. Steel, iron, or brass surrounds can impart an industrial or minimalist vibe, depending on the finish and design. Metal surrounds often complement contemporary or urban interior designs, lending a chic and edgy feel to the fireplace.

Cast Stone fireplace surround / Concrete fireplace surround

Cast stone Fireplace surround

Mimicking the look of natural stone at a more affordable cost, cast stone or concrete surrounds offer durability and a wide array of design possibilities. They can be molded into intricate patterns or sleek, minimalist designs, making them adaptable to various interior styles while ensuring longevity.

When selecting the ideal material for your fireplace surround, consider not only the aesthetic appeal but also factors like maintenance, durability, and compatibility with your overall interior design scheme. Additionally, ensure compliance with safety standards and local building codes to guarantee a secure installation.

One crucial aspect of fireplace surround material design is ensuring they are non-combustible. Given their proximity to the fireplace and exposure to heat, it’s imperative that the materials used in fireplace surrounds possess non-combustible properties. This characteristic prevents the risk of ignition or fire hazards, offering peace of mind to homeowners and ensuring a secure environment around the hearth. Building codes often mandate the use of non-combustible materials for fireplace surrounds to mitigate potential fire dangers and ensure the overall safety of the space.

Moreover, combining materials can result in stunning contrasts or complementary textures. For instance, a fusion of natural stone and wood can create a harmonious blend of rustic and modern elements, enhancing the fireplace’s visual impact.

Ultimately, the choice of material for your fireplace surround should harmonize with your preferences, style, and the ambiance you wish to create in your living space. By selecting the right materials thoughtfully, you can craft a fireplace surround that becomes the heart of your home—a captivating centerpiece that exudes both beauty and functionality.

The materials not to use on fireplace surround

Combustible Woods:

Certain types of wood, especially those lacking fire-resistant properties, should be avoided. Softwoods like pine or cedar can easily catch fire when exposed to high temperatures, compromising safety. When considering wood for a fireplace surround, opt for hardwoods that have been treated or specifically rated for fire resistance.

Flammable Fabrics or Wallpapers:

Using fabrics or wallpapers near the fireplace surround might seem appealing for adding texture or color, but they pose a significant fire hazard. Fabrics and wallpapers are highly flammable, and their proximity to the fireplace increases the risk of ignition. It’s crucial to maintain a safe distance between these materials and the heat source.

Plastic or Meltable Materials:

Materials such as plastic or certain synthetic compounds are prone to melting or emitting toxic fumes when exposed to heat. Using these materials in the vicinity of a fireplace can not only result in damage but also pose health risks due to the release of harmful gases.

Non-Heat Resistant Paints or Finishes:

While paints and finishes can add aesthetic appeal, using non-heat resistant varieties near the fireplace surround can be hazardous. These coatings can blister, peel, or emit fumes when exposed to heat, compromising both safety and the visual integrity of the surround.

Untreated or Unprotected Natural Materials:

Natural materials like drywall, certain types of untreated stone, or unsealed wood may not have adequate resistance to heat or flames. Without proper treatment or protection, these materials can pose fire risks and deteriorate rapidly when exposed to the fireplace’s heat.

Considering these materials’ potential risks, it’s crucial to prioritize safety when designing a fireplace surround. Understanding the limitations and properties of materials is essential to creating a secure and visually appealing space around the hearth. Consulting building codes and safety standards ensures compliance and helps in making informed decisions regarding the materials to be used for the fireplace surround.

Add a mantel?

In the realm of fireplace renovations, the inclusion of a mantel can significantly shape the overall aesthetic. Rustic fireplaces often flaunt hefty mantels, adding to their charming log-cabin allure. Yet, in contemporary settings, a sleek concrete fireplace devoid of a mantel can make a striking statement, especially when it maintains a seamless, floor-to-ceiling flow. Ultimately, deciding whether to integrate a shelf mantel into your refacing endeavor hinges on your preferred style.

Similarly, like the consideration for wood as a facing material, the installation of a wood mantel over an operational fireplace is subject to fire codes. Generally, a mantel protruding around 1.5 inches from the wall should sit no less than 12 inches from the fireplace opening’s top. The further the mantel extends outward, the greater the required clearance. It’s advisable to consult local authorities for compliance assurance.

Mantels can be crafted anew, bought fresh, or salvaged from previous constructions. If your current fireplace boasts a splendid mantle, there’s no necessity to discard it during your room revamp—it can be removed and reinstalled atop your chosen new facing material. 

Once you’ve settled on your mantel, ensure adequate support for these weighty ledges by securely attaching them with lengthy bolts directly into wall studs. For robust, oversized mantels, contingent on their weight, additional reinforcement may be required, such as installing stud backers in the wall before hanging the mantel. Devoting extra time and care to a proper installation not only mitigates concerns about potential decor mishaps but also fosters peace of mind, allowing you to unwind in your fully revamped living space without worry.


In conclusion, crafting a fireplace surround transcends mere aesthetics, it’s about transforming a space into a captivating focal point that encapsulates both style and functionality. Beyond its decorative appeal, a well-designed fireplace surround enhances the ambiance of a room, creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere. It serves as a canvas for personal expression, allowing homeowners to showcase their tastes and preferences while adding value to their living space.

Moreover, the fireplace surround provides an opportunity for customization, enabling the fusion of various materials and designs to reflect individuality. From traditional warmth to modern sophistication, the fireplace surround stands as a testament to craftsmanship, safety, and the timeless allure of gathering around the hearth. Ultimately, the creation of a fireplace surround isn’t just about building an enclosure, it’s about crafting a space that kindles cherished moments and memories for years to come.

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