Tips for Buying and Installing a New Fireplace Surround

Installing a fireplace is a job for a professional, but installing a fireplace surround is a fairly straightforward DIY project.
Related To:
Contemporary Travertine Fireplace Surround

Contemporary Travertine Fireplace Surround

This fireplace features a travertine surround and a mantel made from Douglas fir.

From: Fraley and Company

Photo by: Fraley and Company

Fraley and Company

This fireplace features a travertine surround and a mantel made from Douglas fir.

If you are replacing an existing surround for a working fireplace, check that the new fireplace surround is compatible with the fire type. Some surrounds are designed for ornamental use and may not be heat-resistant. Building regulations state that fireplace surrounds for working fires need a super-imposed, or outer hearth, which is at least two inches thick, and extends at least one foot from the front of the fire. Before purchasing a new fireplace surround, check the dimensions of the opening and make sure new items will fit. Depending on the fireplace type you have, the inner hearth may also need to be built up to bring it to the same level as the outer hearth that you have installed.

If you want a purely ornamental fireplace, you can fit a surround around a blocked opening, or even on a flat wall. A kit designed for a decorative purpose will usually be cheaper than a fireproof surround.

Installing a Wooden Surround

Wooden surrounds are available in easy-to-install kits. Manufacturers generally offer a range of mantel shelves, back panels and hearths, so you can choose which combination you prefer.

This is normally a very straightforward task that simply requires brackets. The order of work for installing the mantel, back panel, and hearth may vary. Wooden surrounds often incorporate a stone (marble, for example) back panel. Or the back panel area can be tiled.

Installing a Stone Surround

Because of the weight of a stone surround, it needs to be broken down into more sections than a wooden surround, which in turn means that assembly involves joining these sections together. Hearths are likely to come in a number of pieces, as are the mantel and back panel. In the example above, a typical stone fireplace surround is shown but the order of work may need modification according to the particular design you have chosen. Some manufacturers will recommend using a stone sealer on the surround to prevent staining when using the fireplace.

Some manufacturers sell standard sizes and styles of stone surrounds, but more often they are custom-built. The components are very heavy, so you will need help with installation.

Building Regulations

Regulations govern the construction of masonry and factory-built fireplaces and chimneys, so seek professional advice if you are unsure of any installation. The construction or installation of a new fireplace, as well as the reconstruction of an existing fireplace, will need to be inspected by the local building safety department. The installation of a gas-fired appliance must also be inspected for compliance with the applicable codes. For both factory-built and custom fireplaces, it is important to provide an exterior air supply to ensure proper fuel combustion.

Keep Reading

Next Up

10 Tips for Maintaining a Wood-Burning Fireplace

There can be many advantages to using a wood burning fireplace. Among other things, it can save money on heating costs and supplement your main source of heat.

Tips for Installing Insulation and Drywall

Learn about the different types of insulation and how to prep for drywall installation.

Advice on Gutters and Downspouts

The experts from DIY's Be Your Own Contractor discuss why these components are essential to your roofing structure.

Skylight Installation Tips

Looking to brighten a dark and dreary space? A skylight will not only brighten up your home, it will also add an architectural style that is sure to impress.

What You Should Know About Installing Insulation

Save on utility bills by learning the basics of insulation installation.

Warming Your Home: Alternative Options

Learn how to supplement your heating system in specific rooms to lend warmth and ambience.

10 Things You Should Know Before Installing a Skylight

Educate yourself with these helpful tips before installing a skylight.

Gas Fireplace Basics

Gas fireplaces are a great way to add warmth and comfort to a space. Much like wall furnaces, gas fireplaces come on and off with a wall switch and can be controlled by a remote.

Learn the Basics About Home Insulation

Insulation is critical to managing your utility bills and keeping you and your family comfortable.

Insulation Basics

Learn how insulation works and why it's important for your home.

On TV

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.