Custom Fireplace Surround

  • Advertise with us
Project by threetee posted 01-21-2008 10:00 PM 15104 views 11 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife and I have been gradually renovating our house. One of our bigger projects was to renovate the fireplace. When we bought the house, the fireplace had an ornate hood mounted over it which was very dated. I removed the hood, and along with the other renovations to the fireplace and surrounding walls (adding tile, painting the walls and installing wall frames), I designed and built a custom surround, using a neighbor’s Federal-style surround for inspiration.

Here’s a ‘before’ picture:

I drew the entire project out on graph paper beforehand to get the measurements right. Once I had my plan, I gathered materials: pine and MDF boards were pretty much all I needed.

I used pine for the front of the pilasters and MDF for the sides. I cut everything to size and routed the flutes and inset on the front pieces:

I then assembled the pilasters using biscuit joinery, installed the moldings in the insets, and attached them to the wall using my nail gun:

The crosspiece was simple enough: pine front and MDF sides, with a simple profile routed on the bottom (it’s hard to see from this picture, but it’s there):

Here’s a ‘during’ picture, taken after the pilasters and crosspiece were up and after the tile had been installed. I took a break at this point so that the hardwood floors could be laid in the room:

For the top shelf, I first profiled the edges of a piece of pine that had been cut to extend beyond the pilasters just enough to look nice with the molding I chose. After attaching that board, I added some spacers cut from scrap pine on top of it, then nailed another two boards on top, the bottom one with profiled edges, and the top one with rounded edges. Attaching crown molding around the top gave me the final profile I wanted for the shelf. I then attached 3/4” pine + quarter round at the top and bottom of the pilasters, astragal for the bands around the pilasters, and base cap molding on the crosspiece. Sorry, no pictures of any of these steps. :(

Prime everything, then a couple of coats of Dunn-Edwards semi-gloss white, and here’s the finished product:

In those pictures you can see some bits of the baseboards, wall frames and built-up chair rail that I installed, but that’s another project. :)

17 comments so far

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

845 posts in 5364 days

#1 posted 01-21-2008 10:09 PM

Well done, an awesome additon and upgrade.

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5444 days

#2 posted 01-21-2008 10:10 PM

Fantastic looking job!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View John's profile


341 posts in 5254 days

#3 posted 01-21-2008 11:24 PM

Incredible before and after – great project!

-- John - Central PA -

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5278 days

#4 posted 01-21-2008 11:55 PM

That is really a nice upgrade. The fireplace and wainscoting really are wonderful touches for the room. You don’t see enough of that in houses today. I am a firm believer that you cannot put too much wood in a house.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View rikkor's profile


11294 posts in 5330 days

#5 posted 01-22-2008 12:07 AM

Wow, that’s wonderful.

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 5336 days

#6 posted 01-22-2008 12:14 AM

nice looking work !

View ChrisBabayco's profile


67 posts in 5383 days

#7 posted 01-22-2008 02:39 AM

A great looking fireplace that you have tied in wonderfully with the walls. Great job!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5674 days

#8 posted 01-22-2008 03:41 AM

Great job!!! Huge improvement over the old design.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View cajunpen's profile


14578 posts in 5521 days

#9 posted 01-22-2008 05:12 AM

Outstanding job – the difference is like night and day.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 5268 days

#10 posted 01-22-2008 01:11 PM

Gongratulations, that is perfect.

-- Jiri

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5616 days

#11 posted 01-22-2008 01:44 PM

so beautiful..
Nicely done

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 5390 days

#12 posted 01-22-2008 01:46 PM

Great looking project! You must feel really good every time you sit down in that room. Nice work.

-- Robb

View Critterman's profile


601 posts in 5266 days

#13 posted 01-22-2008 03:17 PM

Stunning! Excellent work.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5702 days

#14 posted 01-22-2008 03:35 PM

You did an awesome job, really great. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Topapilot's profile


172 posts in 5296 days

#15 posted 01-22-2008 07:14 PM


Great work!

It appears that you did part of the surround, then tiled the brickwork, then finished the mantel. Is that correct? Any thoughts on the sequence of work now that you’ve finished?

showing 1 through 15 of 17 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics