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Chez Larsson

Faux Fireplace Surround

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Faux sounds so much better than fake doesn't it?! Either real or faux a fireplace is a blessing when you are always cold like I am and when temperatures drop like they have this past month.

We originally wanted to install the real thing some years ago but due to weird goings on in our attic and too much intrusion on our living-room floor space we opted for this little electric number. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love you little fire!  

Thought I'd show you how we built the surround for it. If you don't have a fake fire that you need a surround for there are some general building techniques in the instructions that may come in useful on other projects.


As with a lot of our builds it's out of MDF. I won't give you measurements since they will depend on what fire insert you have and the size you want but you can see the basic pieces above.

Fireplace (3)

We used the dowel and tenon aka plug and glue technique for the assembly for the most part. Read about how that's done here.

After measuring and cutting your pieces it's a good idea to sand them individually before assembling them. I find this helps to get a nice finish in the end, no little fraying bits lodged between pieces that are more difficult to deal with after and less filling of little gaps.

The first step in the assembly is to attach the inner frame sides to the back of the fireplace front.

Fireplace (4) 

After that you attach the top of the inner frame.

To be sure the dowel and tenon / plug and glue technique will hold clamps are kind of essential. We have been building our own furniture for quite a while now and if you ask us you can never have enough clamps in your tool kit! They are the extra pairs of strong hands that you want.

You could screw and glue if you wanted but you'd end up with a lot of screw holes that need filling and sanding.

Fireplace (5)

After your inner frame has dried you can attach the back. This is the bit that the fireplace insert will lean against so the the size of the hole is the size of the insert. This one we glued and nailed because this is the back and we're not bothered with the back looking pretty so nail heads can show all they want.

Fireplace (7)

After some waiting for glue to dry the sides can be attached, again by plugging and gluing. Note the cut outs at the back. They are to allow for the unit to go flush against the wall over the base boards.


Here's a handy (pun intended) tip on how to get the cut out for the base boards to be perfect. Make a cardboard template by holding a piece of cardboard against the baseboard and copying the shape of the baseboard onto the cardboard. Cut the cardboard shape you just drew out and transfer the cardboard with the cut out to your material, in our case the MDF. Trace along the template and use a jig saw to cut.

Fireplace (8)

Stand your almost finished unit on a plinth. This is what the fire place insert will end up standing on. You can either nail it on from underneath or plug it in place.

Fireplace (9)

For the mantel you can go for the same material as the unit itself and in this case it would have been a double piece of MDF, glued together for some extra chunkiness.

We opted for a piece of reclaimed timber instead. It was left to us in the garage by the previous owners and just the right size. A bit chopping off one end and some sanding was all it took. It's got some dings in it but that's part of the charm. 


Because our fire is electric we had our electricians install a socket at the back wall towards the top where the fireplace is now standing. To be able to reach the socket the top isn't attached permanently to the surround. There are plugs glued in the top and corresponding holes in the surround. This allows you to take the top off and reach in at the back. 

So there it is! The metal insert is simply stood inside with the plug in the socket behind and the whole unit is attached with L-brackets to the wall. 

EDIT: Drawings courtesy of Martin


  And that's how warm and toasty I feel when the fauxlicious fire's roaring.