How Does a Fireplace Surround Work?

Written by josienita borlongan
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How Does a Fireplace Surround Work?
(Alvimann/Morguefile, JBorlongan)

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Architectural Details

A fireplace surround frames the fireplace. The overall appearance of a fireplace depends on the design of the fireplace surround. Without the fireplace surround, a fireplace would look plain and uninviting, more like a hole on wall with wood inside. A fireplace surround should match overall design theme of a home. For example, a traditional home should have a traditional type of fireplace surround made of marble and ceramic tiles. A modern or contemporary home can use glass or metallic tiles as materials.


Aside from providing form, a fireplace surround also provides function by protecting the wall from soot and heat coming from the fireplace. That is why stones, marbles, slates, tiles, cast iron and concrete are the materials of choice in building fireplace surrounds because they are heat resistant. Furthermore, they are easy to maintain.

Heat Deflector

Gas or wood burning fireplaces should always have fireplace surrounds in order to deflect some of the heat coming from the fire. If you only have plain drywall surrounding the fireplace, chances are the wall will overheat and may start to burn. The heat resistant nature of the fireplace surround protects the wall from the fire's heat bouncing it off to the air. It also protects nearby combustibles aside from walls, such as wood floors.

How Does a Fireplace Surround Work?
Fireplace Surround

Parts of a Fireplace Surround

A fireplace surround consists of a top part, a part that goes to the left of the fireplace, a part that goes to the right of the fireplace and a part that goes at the bottom front of the fireplace. They may come with wood trim such as mouldings and corbels. Normally you would find a mantel above the fireplace, which comes as a part of the fireplace surround.


You can wipe the fireplace surround off with a damp cloth or use a lint-free duster. If there are heavy black stains from wood burning, you can use steel brush and detergent soap. Rinse with lukewarm water to remove the dirt quicker. You can also use common household cleaners. Spray them on and use a cleansing brush to remove the dirt and grime.


Use wood trim, corbels, wood relief and inlaid stones to decorate your fireplace surround. You can also add a column on each side to give a more distinct look that will make it the focal point of the room. You can add faux painting on the wood to make it look like marble to give your fireplace a more classical design.

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