Picture of Rebuilding a Fireplace Surround
This Instructable (Instructanovel) details the process I went through to demolish an existing fireplace surround made of flagstone and replace it with a much more attractive (at least to my eye) custom built one.

When I moved into my house, one of the things I definitely wanted to change was the fireplace.  Every time I looked at it - massive.... brooding.... flag-stoney - I couldn't help but hear the theme to the "Brady Bunch" start up in my head.  Sure as death and taxes, every time I'd walk into the room, I'd hear "Here's the story ..... of a lovely lady..... etc, etc" - aaaaand I had to make it stop.

So after several months of looking at it (and hearing that insipid song) I decided to tear the fireplace out.  After all, what better way to incentivise yourself to start a project than to make it look about a hundred times worse than it already does, right?

I'm going to cover the demolition only to give a few pointers and maybe give some insight into what you may find should you have a similarly constructed fireplace.  I'll then cover the construction of a new fireplace that's a lot more to my liking - and a lot less dominant in the room.

Realize that much of what I'm doing here can be adapted to fireplaces of different construction.  Even all-brick fireplaces can be given a face-lift - just maybe not as extensive as this one.  Sometimes all it takes to get your own "vision" is to see how someone else did it (hence, Instructables!).

Total Cost on this project is roughly $600 - but that's solely based on what I had on hand (leftover quarter-sawn White Oak from another project), what I found (the granite) and the materials I chose to use (spendy countertop concrete).  Your costs could be more or less depending on how big your installation is, what materials you want to use, etc.

While nothing in this instructable is terribly complex, it does require some construction and woodworking skills to pull off.  Tools (or a well-equipped relative) are always a big plus as well.

As with all home renovations involving sledgehammers, you should ask someone smarter than you if you're not sure it's OK to wail on a particular wall.   Make sure to use appropriate safety gear and also make sure you're not violating some obscure building code.  Either that, or just don't tell anyone what you're doing and hope you don't do something you can't recover from.  I choose option #2.

OK, OK - for all the Hall Monitors out there - I'm KIDDING.  Be responsible, smart, safe, and considerate - contrary to popular belief, the world was not made by Fisher Price.

KerryF11 month ago
daveHND2 years ago
Absolutely beautiful! And an excellent instructable as well.

Thank you.
hosseinkh2 years ago
hey man ... !good job !
ikssk3 years ago
I was inspired by what you did, and decided my fireplace needed a makeover. Thank you. I will post pictures when I'm done.
snarfnugget3 years ago
This looks GREAT!!! I've been linking this too all my friends with UGLY fireplaces. I wish I had a fireplace in my home. GREAT JOB.
bluefly12153 years ago
Great job, love it the designs awesome.
sunshiine4 years ago
You do such awesome work!
silveravnt4 years ago
This gives me an idea for the fireplace remodel I'm working on now. I was planing to use a solid piece of Oak for the floating mantle. I think I'll try to construct a hollow box and veneer it as you have. I will not be using vertical pillars to support it. My main concern is how to finish the ends. ideas?

I'm actually doing the opposite with my fireplace. It was the stye of this one with two pillars holding up a mantle and I'm making it stone with a hearth seat, lol.
jwilliamsen (author)  silveravnt4 years ago
I would build the box and do the veneers in stages - the ends first with the grain running horizontal (in reference to the final orientation). Glue over-sized panels on the ends and trim them flush with the box once they've cured. Assuming you're not going to veneer the back ;) next stage would be the top and bottom (assuming you're veneering the top) making sure to overlap the veneers previously done on the ends, and flush trimming once cured. Final veneer panel would be the face which would overlap the top, bottom and end veneer panels, hiding the seams. Flush trim again, and bevel if desired. It should be pretty straight-forward to get a nice clean look.

If you want to see end grain on the ends to give the illusion of a solid piece of wood, you'll have to glue up some "butcher-block" style stock and cut it into veneers perpendicular to the grain - but this would be a lot of work and I'm not sure it would look as nice as a "wrapped" grain would - but that's just my opinion ;) With some careful grain matching, it's quite possible to get the look of a solid piece on the ends - but you'll need to use quarter-sawn or rift-sawn stock if you're trying to match end grain - plain-sawn stock with it's "arches" would be almost impossible to match up.
jacobkoski4 years ago
I do concrete countertops for a living and i have to say you did a nice job! Way to go its not easy, the only worry i would have is the sealer being so close to the high heat of the fireplace but i don't have any hard facts on it being a problem.
jwilliamsen (author)  jacobkoski4 years ago
Thanks :) So far the adhesive hasn't been a problem - the stone surround actually stays fairly cool to the touch during use, and I don't think the adhesive ever really gets near it's failure temperature. The insert has an air space and firebrick between it's inner and outer skin, and is designed to sit right next to bare wood - so it doesn't get that hot. If I was running something other than a "for show" gas fireplace, however, I would have probably opted for mechanical fastening.
I meant the sealer not the adhesive, should be fine from the sounds of it.
jwilliamsen (author)  jacobkoski4 years ago
Ah - my bad. So far, no problems at all :)
Kaelessin4 years ago
WOW that came out beautifully! Like a mix of craftsman and shinto! I must admit I glanced throught the pictures before doing much reading and couldn't resist commenting early :P . . .now, to go back and read!
rowlands4 years ago
Great Job!! Very well detailed and documented. Thanks for all the pictures!
craftyv4 years ago
Great Ible indeed, Love the end result, very elegant and modern.
coregeek4 years ago
This is quite beautiful. I really like the clean lines and simple yet stylish design.
Flea4 years ago
Awesome job! Well detailed.