June 20, 2024

Redo Fireplace Surround

Redoing your fireplace surround can transform the focal point of your living space, adding both aesthetic appeal and functional value to your home. Whether you’re aiming for a modern look, a rustic charm, or a classic elegance, updating your fireplace surround can be a rewarding project. We will explore the various aspects of redoing a fireplace surround, from planning and material selection to installation and finishing touches.

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Planning Your Fireplace Surround Redo

Before embarking on your fireplace surround renovation, it’s crucial to plan meticulously. Proper planning ensures that the project proceeds smoothly and meets your aesthetic and functional goals.

Assessing Your Current Fireplace

Begin by evaluating the current state of your fireplace. Determine what elements you want to keep and what needs to be changed. This might include the mantel, hearth, and the surround itself. Take note of any structural issues, such as cracks or damage, that need to be addressed before the renovation can begin. Understanding the scope of the project will help you set a realistic budget and timeline.

Setting a Budget

Setting a budget is a critical step in the planning process. The cost of redoing a fireplace surround can vary widely depending on the materials chosen, the complexity of the design, and whether you hire a professional or undertake the project yourself. Consider all potential expenses, including materials, labor, permits, and any necessary tools or equipment. Having a clear budget will help guide your decisions and prevent overspending.

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Choosing a Style

Selecting a style for your new fireplace surround is one of the most exciting parts of the planning process. Consider the overall design aesthetic of your home. Popular styles include modern, rustic, traditional, and transitional. Look for inspiration in design magazines, online platforms like Pinterest, and home improvement shows. Creating a vision board can help you visualize how different elements will come together.

Gathering Materials and Tools

Once you have a clear plan and budget, it’s time to gather the necessary materials and tools. Common materials for fireplace surrounds include tile, stone, brick, wood, and metal. Each material has its own set of characteristics and costs, so choose one that aligns with your style, budget, and maintenance preferences. Ensure you have all the tools needed for the project, such as hammers, nails, adhesive, a level, and safety gear.

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Selecting the Right Materials

Choosing the right materials for your fireplace surround is crucial to achieving the desired look and ensuring durability. Each material offers distinct advantages and can significantly influence the overall aesthetic.


Tile is a versatile and popular choice for fireplace surrounds. It comes in a wide variety of colors, patterns, and textures, allowing for endless design possibilities. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are durable and heat-resistant, making them suitable for fireplaces. Mosaic tiles can create intricate designs, while large-format tiles offer a sleek, modern look. Tile is also relatively easy to clean and maintain.


Natural stone, such as granite, marble, or slate, can add a luxurious and timeless appeal to your fireplace surround. Stone surrounds are durable and can withstand high temperatures. Each stone slab is unique, providing a one-of-a-kind look. However, stone can be heavy and may require professional installation. It also needs to be sealed regularly to prevent staining and damage.

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Brick is a classic and durable material for fireplace surrounds. It offers a rustic and traditional charm that suits various home styles. Brick is heat-resistant and relatively low-maintenance. Reclaimed brick can add a touch of history and character to your fireplace. While it is a more affordable option, it might require more effort to install and can limit your design flexibility compared to tile or stone.

Wood and Metal

Wood and metal can be used to create a distinctive and contemporary fireplace surround. Wood adds warmth and a natural element but must be treated to ensure it is fire-resistant. Shiplap, reclaimed wood, or custom woodwork can create a unique look. Metal surrounds, such as steel or copper, offer a sleek and modern aesthetic. They are durable and require minimal maintenance but can be expensive and might also require professional installation.

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Installation Process

The installation process for a new fireplace surround can be complex and may vary depending on the materials chosen. Following a structured approach ensures that the project is completed efficiently and correctly.

Preparation and Demolition

Start by preparing the area and protecting the surrounding furniture and flooring from dust and debris. If you’re removing an existing surround, use appropriate tools to carefully dismantle it. Ensure the fireplace is turned off and cool before beginning any work. Clean the surface thoroughly, removing any old adhesive or residue.

Building a Frame

For many fireplace surround projects, constructing a frame is necessary to support the new materials. Use sturdy lumber to build a frame that fits around the fireplace opening. Ensure the frame is level and securely attached to the wall. This step is crucial for creating a stable base for the new surround materials.

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Installing the Surround

The installation method will vary based on the material chosen. For tile surrounds, apply a heat-resistant adhesive to the back of each tile and press it into place, using spacers to maintain even gaps. For stone or brick surrounds, use mortar to adhere the pieces to the wall. Follow manufacturer instructions for any specific installation requirements. Work carefully to ensure all pieces are level and aligned.

Finishing Touches

Once the new surround is installed, complete the project with finishing touches. This might include grouting tiles, sealing stone, or applying a protective finish to wood or metal. Install any additional features, such as a new mantel or hearth. Clean the area thoroughly, removing any excess mortar, grout, or adhesive. Finally, step back and admire your newly renovated fireplace surround.

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Decorating Your New Fireplace Surround

After redoing your fireplace surround, enhance its visual appeal with thoughtful decoration. The right decor can highlight your new surround and integrate it seamlessly into your living space.

Adding a Mantel

A mantel can add both functional and aesthetic value to your fireplace. Choose a mantel that complements the style and material of your new surround. Wood mantels offer a traditional look, while metal or stone mantels can provide a modern touch. Use the mantel to display artwork, photos, or seasonal decor, creating a personalized and inviting focal point.

Incorporating Lighting

Proper lighting can enhance the ambiance of your fireplace area. Consider installing sconces or recessed lighting above the fireplace to highlight the surround and create a warm, inviting glow. Candles or string lights can add a cozy and intimate feel. Ensure any lighting fixtures are heat-resistant and positioned safely away from the fireplace.

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Accessorizing with Decor

Accessorize your fireplace surround with complementary decor items. This can include decorative vases, sculptures, or plants placed on the mantel or hearth. Choose items that enhance the overall aesthetic of the room and reflect your personal style. Consider seasonal decor to keep the area fresh and dynamic throughout the year.

Balancing Functionality and Style

While decorating, strike a balance between functionality and style. Ensure that any decor items do not obstruct the fireplace or create safety hazards. Keep in mind the heat generated by the fireplace and choose heat-resistant materials for nearby decor. Thoughtfully arranged accessories can enhance the beauty of your new fireplace surround without compromising safety or functionality.

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Common Mistakes to Avoid

Skimping on Quality Materials

One common mistake is opting for cheaper, lower-quality materials to save on costs. While this might reduce initial expenses, it can lead to issues such as wear and tear, heat damage, and a shorter lifespan for your fireplace surround. Invest in high-quality, durable materials that can withstand the heat and maintain their appearance over time.

Ignoring Structural Issues

Failing to address underlying structural problems before starting the renovation can lead to bigger issues down the line. Cracks, loose bricks, or unstable framing should be repaired before installing the new surround. Ignoring these problems can compromise the integrity of your fireplace and pose safety risks.

Inaccurate Measurements

Incorrect measurements can result in materials that don’t fit properly, leading to wasted time, effort, and money. Always double-check your measurements and ensure you have accurate dimensions before purchasing materials. Measure twice, cut once is a valuable mantra in any renovation project.

Overlooking Ventilation and Safety

Safety should be a top priority when redoing a fireplace surround. Ensure that the new surround does not obstruct any ventilation points and that the materials used are fire-resistant. Overlooking these aspects can result in a fireplace that looks good but poses significant safety risks. Consult with professionals if you’re unsure about safety standards.

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How much does it cost to redo a fireplace surround?

The cost of redoing a fireplace surround can vary widely based on factors such as materials, labor, and the complexity of the design. On average, homeowners can expect to spend between $500 and $5,000. Higher-end materials like natural stone or custom woodwork can increase the cost, while DIY projects using affordable materials can be more budget-friendly.

Can I redo my fireplace surround myself?

Yes, redoing a fireplace surround can be a DIY project if you have the necessary skills and tools. Simple projects, such as installing tile or applying a new coat of paint, can be done by most homeowners. However, more complex renovations involving structural changes or heavy materials may require professional assistance to ensure safety and quality results.

What materials are best for a modern fireplace surround?

For a modern fireplace surround, consider materials such as large-format tiles, sleek metal, or smooth natural stone like marble or granite. These materials offer clean lines and a contemporary look. Combining different textures, such as a metal surround with a wooden mantel, can also create a modern aesthetic with added depth and interest.

How do I maintain my new fireplace surround?

Maintenance will depend on the materials used. Regular cleaning is essential for all types of surrounds. Tile surrounds should be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild soap. Stone surrounds need to be sealed periodically to prevent staining. Wood surrounds should be dusted and polished regularly, and any metal components should be wiped down to prevent tarnish. Always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions for best results.

Can I change the style of my fireplace surround without major construction?

Yes, you can update the style of your fireplace surround without major construction by using surface treatments and decor changes. Applying a new coat of paint, adding tile overlays, or installing a new mantel can significantly alter the look of your fireplace. These changes can be done relatively quickly and with minimal disruption to your home.

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Closing Thoughts

The once-grand fireplace, a relic of a bygone era, now wore a tired facade of chipped paint and cracked tile. Its potential, however, remained undeniable. A spark of inspiration ignited within, fueled by the desire to transform this neglected hearth into a focal point of warmth and elegance. The journey to redo the fireplace surround promised to be a rewarding one, a chance to breathe new life into a cherished feature and create a space that truly reflected the home’s character.

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