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Design The Space

Fireplace Surrounds Article

With all the different fireplace surrounds available today it can seem a little challenging trying to decide which one is right for your fireplace. This can be particularly true if the whole concept of a surround is new to you. A fireplace surround is basically a decorative structure that is place on the wall surrounding your fireplace whose sole purpose is to add beauty to the room that you fireplace is located in. You may find that not only are fireplace surrounds used to add beauty to your fireplace, but in certain instances they can be very functional as well.

First, some definitions.   On the wall around most fireplaces, there is a non-combustible stone, brick, marble or granite surround facing that is usually needed. This is particularly true if your fireplace mantel (a horizontal shelf with vertical mantel legs) is wood or another combustible material.  Noncombustible facing can serve two or three purposes.  1) Facing can provide the required fire hazard safety clearances needed, 2) Stone, marble, granite, slate facing can also add to the aesthetic appeal of your fireplace, 3) a stone facing can help fill the space between your fireplace opening and the inside dimensions of the mantel you are using, to help insure your fireplace and mantel have good proportion.  If you will use a non-combustible (e.g., stone) mantel, then you may not need to have any non-combustible stone facing between the fireplace opening and the inside of the fireplace mantel, but most fireplaces and mantel use at least a little 'facing.' 

When you decide it is time to add a surround facing to your existing fireplace there are several things that you need to take into consideration before you set out to buy your new surround not the least of which is whether or not your fireplace was designed to burn wood or gas. If your fireplace was designed to burn wood or gas (whether or not you plan to burn it) you need to take into account the amount and type of ventilation that the fireplace requires and you need to follow local building codes regarding the safety clearances your fireplace needs to insure your safety. When looking at fireplace surround facings, you need to buy one that is made from a material that is more than capable of withstanding any heat your fireplace is capable of producing and, in general, facings are made of brick, stone, granite, slate or marble. All of these materials are quite heat resistant making them perfect for use around open fires. Not only are these materials able to withstand the heat, but they can still be very aesthetically appealing, with brick stone and slate, offering a rustic look while granite and marble can be very elegant allowing you to create the ambiance you want in your room.

If, on the other hand your fireplace was not designed to burn wood or gas, doesn't product heat and was build strictly for decoration then you can go with just about anything you like for the facing. You no longer have to worry about what material you use and can go so far as to pick a surround that has decorative painted artwork or engravings. You can have a custom wooden surround built that has shelving where you can display your treasures or store your audio/video equipment that is connected to the flat screen television set you have mounted on the wall over the fireplace.  If you are looking for the absolute perfect fireplace surround for your fireplace, whether your fireplace was designed to burn wood or gas or is strictly a decorative, non-functioning fireplace, Design The Space has what you are looking for.  You can choose from stone or stacked stone if you are looking for old world charm or you can go for the elegance of marble. All surrounds can be shipped directly to your home and can be easily installed by no more than 2 people in just a few hours.

Installation tips:

Marble, slate and granite slabs (like glass panels) should always be carried/transported in an upright and vertical position, perpendicular to the ground or floor.  Do not carry it flat, because it can break under its own weight.

When handling fireplace hearths, it is recommended that at least two people carry the hearth in the vertical position, and when laying it out, you should have three people to properly support both ends and the middle, as you lay it in position.  Marble, especially, will break easily if not supported properly.  Always set it down easily, taking care not to drop it or bump it.  Also, always use caution when carrying large pieces of stone facings, and handle marble as little as possible!

Store marble with polished-face-to-polished-face with Styrofoam between polished faces, and store unpolished faces to unpolished faces.  If marble is stored outdoors, please see that it is covered with a waterproof covering to protect it from stains, sunlight and harsh weather.  Padded A-frames are recommended for storing marble so that polished edges do not get scratched, and this will also keep the marble vertical, which is optimal.

Clean marble with a soft cloth or steel wool (0000) to take off grit and marble dust.  If the marble is dirty, do no put tow polished edges together, as the stone will easily scratch.

Unless your floor is perfectly flat and level without any low or high spots, we recommend installing our 1/2" Micore board under your hearth.  It is a dense fiber board that will adjust itself to any unevenness in your floor or subfloor that otherwise would create an unsupported area, a weak area for your slab susceptible to cracking or breaking.

Use only adhesives meant for use with stone products.  These typically are not waterbased, since water based adhesives can bleed through many stones.  Our F-26 adhesive has been tested and is recommended!  To prevent a fire and resulting damage and losses, insure the adhesive has cured for ten days before exposing the fireplace to fire, since many adhesives including the F-26 have some flammability until it is fully cured.