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Fireplace Surrounds: 5 Pitfalls to Avoid

The fireplace surround gives a fireplace its frame. Typically made from wood, stone, composite, brick, or concrete, the surround transforms the fireplace into a modern design element, a traditional statement piece, or a rustic setting. If you’re interested in updating your fireplace surround, avoid the common pitfalls of custom construction.



5 Pitfalls of DIY Fireplace Surround Construction Projects 

Finding inspiration for your project is the easy part. Google, Pinterest, and other websites offer an abundance of fireplace ideas that you can use to develop your “must-haves” for a dream fireplace. However, the construction can easily move from a weekend project to a money pit–like home improvement project. Here are some of the most common pitfalls associated with the DIY approach to fireplace surrounds:


  1. You forgot to check local building codes. Before you start on any home improvement project (particularly one around fire), read up on relevant codes. If you decide to use wood, you may need to keep the material a certain distance away from the firebox. Failing to adhere to building codes could land you with a steep fine and an obligation to rip out your finished project before you can sell your home.


  1. You picked a project that was more involved than you initially thought. Wooden construction requires careful measurement, but other materials like stone, composites, and brick require more finesse. For example, working with real stone is an art. You’ll need to understand matching and laying techniques, how to match grout, and other details of stonework. The process can turn into a time-consuming endeavor if you lack experience.


  1. The cost of the project may rise quickly. If you’ve never worked with the material before, you may need special tools to cut and construct the surround. As you purchase the specialty tools and materials that you need, you may notice the cost of your “simple” DIY project increasing as you work.


  1. The colors of your products don’t match. Professional designers occasionally have problems matching colored adhesives to materials and grouts. For a high-quality finished product, complementary colors matter. For a DIY project, you may spend more time than you expect running back and forth to the store to find the right colors for your project.


  1. You forgot the importance of measuring twice. For a custom project, measuring twice helps. Measure the materials, measure the existing fireplace, and then do it again. With one wrong screw hole or a crookedly-adhered piece of wood or brick, you could throw the entire look of the project off. Unfortunately, you may not see small inconsistencies until you install several more layers and the inconsistencies grow.


When undertaking a massive DIY project such as a fireplace surround, homeowners can quickly get in over their heads. Before you set your heart on that custom fireplace that you want to try to recreate, consider the alternatives to a DIY job.


Fireplace Surround vs. Custom Construction

If you don’t want to build your own surround, you can choose another option. A pre-cast fireplace surround offers the same high quality finish without the work and potential cost of custom construction. A fireplace surround from Eldorado Stone includes everything that you need to install a durable and professional looking fireplace surround in as little as a weekend - it can be an attainable DIY project or one that you would hire out to a contractor.

Each Eldorado Stone fireplace surround is handcrafted and comes in several different styles, finishes, and colors. Order a sample kit to double check your color and finish choices before you purchase, and see how a new fireplace surround will transform your space.

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