Choosing the Best Materials to Build a Custom Fireplace Surround

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A fireplace is a wonderful way to add interest and drama to your home. You probably conjure a picture of something specific when you think of a fireplace. Maybe it is the stone fireplace from your grandmother’s house with the rustic wood mantle. Maybe it is an elegant marble fireplace from that fancy hotel you stayed in on your honeymoon. When you decide to install a fireplace in your home, there are many options available to make the vision in your head a reality.

  • Rock or natural stone is one popular option for fireplace facades. From natural randomly shaped rocks to smooth rounded ones, no two stone fireplaces look exactly alike. The texture, size, and color palette of your stones guarantee a unique piece for your home.
  • Slate is another natural popular option for fireplaces. Also available natural or polished, slate has a wide variety of colors and appearances. Though some finishes give slate an almost marble-like appearance, though it tends to have a slightly more subtle appearance.
  • If you’re going for a less subtle, elegant look, marble may be the material for you. A variety of colors are available, and the random veins and specks of color create visual interest and add to the elegance of a space. Though marble used to be prohibitively expensive for the average homeowner, new finishing techniques have made it more widely available as a material.
  • Brick fireplaces are growing in popularity. Brick is available in a wide range of colors, which can be installed as a solid, or in patterns to create visual interest. Brick can also be painted if you’re looking for both texture and a specific color.
  • Stamped concrete is a very popular option. Special powders, stains, and finishes are used while pouring the concrete. Concrete workers have the ability to create nearly any texture using concrete, including those listed above. So don’t discount your “marble” fireplace until you’ve discussed your options with a concrete worker.

Though those are the most common materials for fireplaces, lots of other materials exist if you’re looking for something more unique. You can get creative with plaster, drywall, or adobe, especially if you’re looking for a modern, angular look. Wood surrounds can be great for creating a rustic, woodsy effect. Other options for something unexpected include metal and recycled or repurposed materials.

Whatever materials you choose to use, make sure to schedule an appointment for a chimney inspection and cleaning at least once every year. The CSIA recommends that if you use your fireplace only occasionally, you should have it inspected and swept once per year. If you use it several days each week, or as a supplemental heat for your normal heat source, schedule an appointment twice per year.

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