How to Make a DIY Fireplace Surround

A fireplace surround can transform a basic fireplace into a beautiful focal point in your home. With some simple DIY skills, you can create your own custom surround and save money in the process. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to make your own DIY fireplace surround, from planning and prepping to installing and finishing. Let’s get started on how to make a DIY fireplace surround that will be the showcase of your home.

Planning Your DIY Fireplace Surround

The first step is to plan out the design for your DIY fireplace surround. Here are the key elements to consider:

Size and Dimensions

  • Carefully measure the dimensions of your existing fireplace and determine the size of surround you’d like to create. Be sure to account for the thickness of the surround materials you choose.
  • Standard surround sizes range anywhere from 32 to 50 inches tall by 36 to 60 inches wide. Scale the size appropriately to fit your fireplace and room.
  • Make the surround proportional to the size of the wall and fireplace opening. You generally want it to extend 6-12 inches around the firebox opening.


  • Wood and MDF boards are common DIY surround materials. Consider oak, pine, poplar, maple, birch.
  • Stone, brick, tile, and even metal can also be used. Stick with materials you’re comfortable cutting and installing.
  • The thickness is typically between 0.5-1 inch. Thicker surrounds have a more substantial look.

Design Styles

  • Rustic, Farmhouse, Craftsman, Traditional, Modern, Transitional – pick a style you like.
  • Add detailing like mantels, corbels, columns, layered trim, arches, niches etc. for more visual interest.
  • Paint or stain the surround to match your home’s color scheme.

Fireplace Details

  • Account for the height of the hearth if you have one.
  • If you have a projecting fireplace, decide if you want the surround to extend around it.
  • Note any existing fireplace framing or façade materials to marry the new surround to.

Preparing for Installation

Once you’ve determined the design, it’s time to get the fireplace ready for installing your DIY surround:

Gather Supplies

  • Surround boards in your planned materials and dimensions
  • Construction adhesive, wood filler, nails and/or screws
  • Circular saw, miter saw, table saw, jigsaw, router
  • Safety gear – eye protection, masks, ear protection

Protect Floors and Walls

  • Cover nearby floors and walls with rosin paper or drop cloths.

Clean Fireplace

  • Clean firebrick, mortar, walls around fireplace to remove soot, dirt and debris.
  • Vacuum out any ashes from inside the firebox.
  • Ensure surface is clean and ready for surround installation.

Remove Existing Surround

  • If you currently have a surround, carefully detach it from the fireplace.
  • Use a pry bar and hammer to gently remove nails, screws or mortar.
  • Dispose of old surround boards.
  • Clean area again so it’s smooth for new surround.

Construct Surround Frame

  • Measure opening and build a simple surround frame out of 2x4s.
  • Attach frame securely to wall surrounding fireplace.
  • This provides a structure to anchor and attach the surround to.

The fireplace is now prepped and ready for the DIY surround installation.

Installing the Fireplace Surround

Now it’s time for the fun part – installing and constructing your custom fireplace surround:

Cut Boards to Size

  • Using your planned measurements, cut your surround boards to size with circular saw or miter saw.
  • Cut supports, trim, mantels, and other design elements.

Add Detailing

  • Use router or other tools to add any decorative edges, bevels, patterns or grooves to boards.
  • Attach trim, corbels, columns, shelving etc. with glue and nails.

Attach Surround

  • Apply thin set mortar or construction adhesive to back of boards and surround frame.
  • Press surround in place around firebox opening and attach securely.
  • Use finish nails and fill holes with wood filler; or use screws.
  • Ensure surround is centered and level. Use shims if needed to adjust.

Fill Gaps

  • Fill any visible gaps between boards or surrounding wall with wood filler. Smooth and sand flat.
  • Caulk perimeter seams with paintable silicone caulk for a finished look.

Seal & Finish Boards

  • Seal surround with primer and 2-3 coats of paint or stain for desired look.
  • For a distress look, sand boards lightly between coats.
  • Use polyurethane for a glossy coating.

That covers the essential installation steps for creating your own DIY fireplace surround. Be sure to follow any specific directions for your planned materials and design elements. Now let’s go over some finishing touches.

Adding Finishing Touches

The devil is in the details when it comes to fireplace surrounds. Here are some quick tips for completing your DIY surround:

  • If desired, add decorative facing like stone or brick around the surround.
  • Stain, paint or finish the mantel to match the surround.
  • Use caulk to fill any cracks between surround and hearth or walls.
  • Consider adding shelving, niches or built-ins to the surround walls.
  • Top with decorative objects, art, mirrors or a TV for a complete look.
  • Touch up paint or stain over any installation marks or nail holes.
  • Finish off with molding around the perimeter for a clean, completed appearance.

Stand back and admire your custom, one-of-a-kind DIY fireplace surround! Enjoy the satisfaction of having created an elegant focal point for your room with your own skills.

FAQs About DIY Fireplace Surrounds

Some common questions that arise about creating your own fireplace surround:

Can I install a fireplace surround myself?

Yes! With some basic DIY skills, the right tools, and these instructions, you can definitely install your own custom fireplace surround. Careful planning is key.

What tools do I need to make a fireplace surround?

You’ll need basic woodworking tools – a circular saw, miter saw, jigsaw, router, drill, sanders, as well as a pry bar, nails, screws, glue, and safety gear. Refer to the tools list above.

How much does it cost to build your own fireplace surround?

Costs vary, but figure $300-800 for a simple DIY wood surround, depending on materials, size, and embellishments. Prefab surrounds are $600-2000+, so DIY can save quite a bit.

Can you put tile around an existing fireplace?

Yes, tile makes a great DIY fireplace surround material. Adhere with mortar or construction adhesive. Use tile edge pieces on the perimeter.

What kind of wood is best for a fireplace surround?

Oak and maple are great hardwood options. Pine and poplar are affordable softwoods. Use moisture-resistant wood or treat with fire-retardant sealants.

How do you decorate a plain fireplace?

Paint or tile the surround, add trim, corbels, shelving or niches. Install a decorative screen or doors. Top with framed art, mirrors, candles and greenery for easy fireplace decor.

Can I paint my brick fireplace?

Yes, brick fireplaces can be painted with a masonry bonding primer and latex paint. For a smooth finished look, you’ll need to float the brick with joint compound first.


Creating your own DIY fireplace surround can be an extremely gratifying home improvement project. Not only will you save on labor costs, but you’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind fireplace surround that’s customized to your space and style.

With the right planning, materials, and tools, you can tackle this project yourself and reap the benefits of a beautiful new fireplace focal point. Just take it step-by-step, work carefully and safely, and don’t be afraid to add unique decorative touches.

Before you know it, you’ll be cozying up next to a fire with family and friends in your home accentuated by your handcrafted, DIY fireplace surround. Enjoy this relaxing and warming addition that will be a conversations piece for years to come.