How To Build A Fireplace Surround


Learn how easy it is to build a simple fireplace surround and mantel from MDF to beef up an existing brick fireplace.

In the first part of my fireplace makeover tutorial, I shared how to tile over a brick fireplace. Today, I’m going to share how we built out our existing surround and DIYed a new mantel. 

Before we could tile the hearth, we covered the brick with ¼ inch MDF. We stuck it directly to the brick using some Liquid Nails and used our nail gun on the corners where the MDF met.

How To Build a Fireplace Surround

At this point we decided to build our mantel before deciding how far out we wanted to build the surround. It was one of those things that we just needed to see in real life and not just on paper.

Building The Mantel

In order for the electric fireplace to sit into the existing fireplace surround, we needed to build a box for it to sit in. The particular electric insert that we purchased screwed in on the sides only, so we decided to only do 3 sides to our box – left, right and bottom.

Fitting the Electric Fireplace

I sealed all the fuzzy edges of the MDF with a light coat of spackle, let it dry and sanded it with fine grit sandpaper. All the nail holes will filled with spackle and sanded once dry.

Finishing Touches

Our living room has been completely transformed! Our new fireplace is proportional, substantial and fits our space. It wasn’t the most difficult DIY project but it certainly was a little frustrating at times (I’m looking at you crown molding!) and more than a few swear words were uttered.