How to build a Fireplace Surround


Thanks for all of your sweet comments on my Fireplace Makeover Reveal yesterday.

I wanted to hug all of your necks!  We (mostly Cy) worked so hard on that fireplace surround, so it was great for us to read all the great positive feedback.  I felt like y’all were giving us a bunch of “high fives”, and it was awesome.  Smile

If you came to my house to see the fireplace in person, you and I would look something like this…

And then we would go get a Coke at McDonald’s to celebrate, and probably eat chocolate too.


Today, I want to show you the steps we took in creating our fireplace surround.

how to create a fireplace surround

Cy had to get pretty creative to make it work, but he did it.


There were two problem areas on our fireplace.

1.  The brick stuck out in two different places.

how to create a fireplace surround

2.  The vents were going to need to be covered up by the surround.

Cy started the project by building a frame above the mantle ledge to create a flat surface between the two places where the brick stuck out.

how to create a fireplace surround


To attach the wood to the brick you need to first drill a hole in the brick with a concrete drill bit.  Then drill through the wood as well.

how to create a fireplace surround

Next, add PL Adhesive by Locktite to the back of the wood…

how to create a fireplace surround

Then attach the wood to the brick using a concrete screw.

how to create a fireplace surround

The brick on top of the fireplace stuck out a bit, so Cy had to come up with a way to create a flat surface on the front.

how to create a fireplace surround


He used his level to help him figure it out.

how to create a fireplace surround

By attaching a “filler” piece to the 2×4, he was able to create a level surface to attach the plywood to.


how to create a fireplace surround

Once he had his frame, he added a large piece of cabinet grade birch plywood to it.

how to create a fireplace surround

Next, we added 1×6 boards of Poplar wood to create the “planks.”  You could use pine or mdf boards to save money because you will be painting them.

how to create a fireplace surround

If you put nickels between each board as you attach them, it creates nice even spacing between each board.

how to create a fireplace surround

Next, Cy began attaching ripped pieces of 2×4’s below the mantle (the same way he did above the mantle) to create a frame to attach the birch plywood to.

how to create a fireplace surround

He cut and attached birch plywood directly below the mantle…

how to create a fireplace surround

And down both sides of the fireplace to cover the vents…

how to create a fireplace surround

Because we wanted to cover the vents, we had to attach the wood a little bit closer to the fireplace opening than we would have liked.  We only have about 4 inches between the wood and the fireplace opening on the sides.  Therefore, it technically cannot be a working fireplace.  It doesn’t work right now anyway, so we are okay with that.

how to create a fireplace surround

Cy added a 2×4 to the front brick ledge and trimmed it out with the birch plywood to create the mantle.

how to create a fireplace surround

how to create a fireplace surround

Next he covered up the mantle and the sides of the fireplace with ripped 1×6 poplar boards to fit.

how to create a fireplace surround

He also added 1×4 poplar boards to picture frame the planks above the to create a fireplace surround

Then there was a lot of adding decorative trim to the fireplace.

how to create a fireplace surround


It is really up to you how you want to trim out your fireplace.  We just chose the pieces we liked and added them.

how to create a fireplace surround

After Cy finished trimming everything out, he caulked all of the crevices.  Don’t forget to caulk!  It makes a world of difference!!

I forgot to take an after picture of the picture molding that Cy add with 1/2 x 3 inch poplar, but you can see it in the picture below.

how to create a fireplace surround


I painted the wood with two good coats of white paint, and the brick with Ebony Fields by Valspar.  It’s a gorgeous blackish, grayish, brownish color.  Smile

Cy also cleaned out the inside of the fireplace and spray painted it with a high heat spray paint.

And we were finished!how to create a fireplace surround

You can see in this picture that I also painted our front door the same color as the brick. It really made a huge difference in the space.

how to create a fireplace surround

Hopefully I can get the mantle decorated soon and share it with you.

If I left anything out, or if you have any questions about this process, feel free to ask!


  1. Your fireplace looks wonderful!! We re-did ours last winter, and I would guess that if you are anything like me you just find yourself smiling at it everytime you walk in the room!! What a difference!!!

  2. Love it! I don’t have a fireplace but I know people who do. What a perfect solution for those tacky out of date bricks! Way to give us hope that we can make it look magazine worthy too, thank you.

  3. Awesome looking. I am a sucker for trim, so just love how the surround turned out. I need to hunt down that dark paint color because I want to paint my interior doors and love how your front door looks.

  4. Wow! I had no idea the project required such detail. It’s good that Cy can figure out things like that. What a great job. I appreciate his hard work, and I don’t even get to enjoy the fireplace. :)

  5. While that my be the code for a wood-burning fireplace, I would investigate the code for vented and Unvented gas inserts. I’m fairly sure they’re different. I have a vented gas coal in my BR and unvented in the LR change over from coal and wood. You can get really realistic effects and I believe my unvented insert is made in KY very near to you. I say this because my good friend who lives in a log cabin (in KY) couldn’t have a wood burner, but can have the gas log inserts. He’s going with the unvented as he has no chimney. Just a thought as there’s nothing quite like a fire in the winter,if only for looks. CTD

    1. is this project above actually code if it were to be used for active wood burning fires? it is mentioned that it would not be in use so i am assuming this was not checked? i am looking to put wood over my brick just like this but a friend said it was not code for an active wood burning fireplace. i won’t be covering any vents, but i do want to add some foam insulation sheets behind the wood due to the chill the bricks bring in during the cold season.

  6. oh my gosh Traci…….your fireplace is gorgeous! I am so printing this post so I can save it to show my husband ………when we are ready to sell our current house and remodel a new one. You are going to have so much fun decorating your mantel !

  7. WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!

    ITS GORGEOUS!!!! I love the painted brick too. I am glad you didn’t white wash this one ;)

    It is coming right along Traci – Thanks for sharing your journey.

    God Bless!

    Marilyn C.

  8. Here it is a couple of days later and I’m still gobsmacked by your fireplace! I swear that Cy must be the Albert Einstein of DIY! I really like that you painted your door a darker color, too. It’s all just amazing.

    <3 Maggie

  9. I really love a brick or stone fireplace, yet what you’ve accomplished is pure beauty! It really compliments your house Traci !

  10. Nice job, but I don’t understand why you can’t use the fireplace. Why didn’t it work before you started? Those vent things, I certainly did not understand those vent things.

  11. Traci, it looks fabulous! My husband and I are talking the process through to change up our fireplace also. Between your tutorial and The Lettered Cottage tutorial I think we can pull it off! Thank you!!!

  12. This is such an awesome makeover. I love that you posted the steps for those of us who probably can do it, but needed the inspiration! Fantastic!! (high five)

  13. It looks fantastic!! Great job to both of you! It’s amazing what little details can do to the whole look of the room.

  14. Hi Tracy –

    I just stumbled on your fireplace makever and it looks AMAZING. My question is actually for your hubby – How was the process of cleaning out the old stuff. I just recently removed the old brass fireplace doors and have the ” now what” thought. Any guidance would be great.

  15. Love your fireplace makeover! I am looking for ideas for doing something similar on a fireplace that looks a lot like yours did. I am also dealing with the vent problem and I am wanting to cover them. Ours was originally a wood burning fireplace converted to a gas log fireplace. I assume the vents were needed when it was first used as a wood burning fireplace but now I have no ideas as to whether or not they are needed for the gas logs. I was hoping you might tell me where I can find this information and where to find the code requirements.

    1. Wow. We just did the opposite! Tore off the wooden, molding around the fireplace – to expose the brick. Why have a fireplace you can’t use?? Especially if its the focal point?

  16. Thank you for sharing. We are also doing a similar project, DIY, and I am new to it. I appreciated the pictures of step by step process. Looks great!

  17. Fantastic! We were looking for a fix to cover up our stone fireplace. This is it! Thanks for giving all the details. It helps us immensely.

  18. I’m about to start rebuilding my fireplace mantle and wall over the fireplace (in a very similar way as this)! I love the step by step pictures. I’ll use some of the ideas.

    But the biggest steal here is going to be the paint color! I was going to do the whole thing in that flat black, but the grey makes a good contrast without too much! Nice pick. I wonder if that valspar will hold up to the heat on the brick over the fireplace (mine is gas).


  19. Since it’s not a working fireplace did you do anything to seal off the flue for drafts and stuff?i have a fireplace like this and it’s rusted out so we can’t use it. But you can feel the air coming from the chimney and I want to seal it off somehow as well cover the ugly vents. Yours turned out fantastic by the way

    1. Hi Mackenzie! To my knowledge, my husband didn’t do anything to seal off the flue. We do not get any drafts though, so maybe he did something? I’ll try to remember to ask him when he gets home. :)

  20. This is exactly the tutorial that I have been searching the Internet for. Thank you!!! It was very informative and gave me confidence to finally remodel my ugly fireplace. You’re a wonderful teacher!
    Quick question, the shiplap look above the mantel, how did you apply that to the plywood? It doesn’t look like you screwed it in so was there a type of adhesive used?

  21. I was looking for a fireplace remodel that worked with a hearth instead of flat to the floor, this is just what I was looking for!!
    Thank you for your detail pictures that helps me so much.
    Melinda with I’m a project junkie

  22. I want to know why you mixed Colonial (upper portion incl. mantle) and Shaker/Craftsman on the lower.
    Was this done intentionally?

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