How to Make a Fireplace Surround

Last Updated:  July 1, 2021

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***IMPORTANT NOTE: If you build this project, please check fire and building codes to ensure your surround has the proper clearances.***

Get the Free Plan for this project:

https://www.outoftheww.com/project-plans

It’s pretty amazing how easy this fireplace surround can be. If you use dimensional construction-grade lumber from the big box hardware store, it can also be inexpensive. I used the premium pine that those stores carry.

I used the table saw to rip the boards to width, but you can skip this step and make it work with one of the widths you find at those big box stores.

Assembly

Use glue and brad nails to assemble the legs with simple butt joints.

Once the three leg pieces are attached clamp a spacer to keep the leg square while the glue dries.

The front piece is attached to the legs with glue and brad nails. Put glue on the ends of the front and on the top of the legs where the front sits.

Measure for the bottom piece and attach it with glue and nails. The bottom should be flush with the back of the leg pieces, but the ends don’t need to be even with the leg side.

Drive nails through the front into the bottom making sure that the two pieces are flush.

Wait to cut the battens until you get to this step and mark each piece to fit one-by-one. Using this method of reference measuring will get the best fit possible. You will inevitably introduce error as you build and assemble the project so that cutting everything to length up front will likely result in gaps.

The battens are also attached with glue and brad nails. Line them up flush with the outer edge on its respective side.

I had a scenario where I needed my top to be a little bit wider than the scraps I had left. I knew it was getting painted, so I was able to add a smaller strip to the top to get the desired width and then sand it down smooth. Once painted the glue line is unnoticeable.

Attach the top with two screws at each end and then one in the front. Try to keep them more towards the middle to allow the most wood expansion possible. Before driving the screws drill a hole with a 1/2” forstner or spade bit. Glue 1/2” dowel in the hole and cut it with a flush trim saw.

Mounting

The surround is attached with at least five pieces used as cleats and it needs to be in contact with all of the pieces. The longest two are cut down to fit neatly inside of the leg. All of these pieces are attached to studs where possible. At a minimum use drywall anchors. The surround is made to stand on its own, but the cleats will keep it in place and need to be secure.

Place the surround in its final position, lean it forward slightly, and draw a small mark right inside of each side and a few places along the top. Take a scrap piece that is the same thickness as the boards in the surround (an off cut from the build) and line it up with the previous mark and make a mark on the opposite side. You now have indications of where the cleat needs to fit inside the surround.

Once the cleats are attached, put some masking tape on the wall near the cleats, but in a place that will still be visible when the surround is in place. On the tape mark the ends of each cleat so that you know where they are once the surround covers them up. Drive brad nails or finish nails from each side into the cleats.

For a more visible representation of how to mount your fireplace surround, download the free plan:

This fireplace surround is a great project that a beginner can tackle in a weekend and completely transform their room!


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