The fireplace has been a prominent architectural element in living rooms and dens for centuries. Aside from being a soothing decorative element around which you can relax and spend quality time with family, it also adds value to your home and creates a warm ambience. From gossiping to playing cards, there are many fun fireside activities to keep family members occupied and connected.
The best thing about fireplaces is that they can be designed just about any way you want, using a wide range of materials. From the shape of the hearth to the height of the firebox opening, to mantels and lighting, there are a lot of things to consider when installing a fireplace.
A fireplace surround is like the frame around a painting. This area around the opening of a fireplace serves both a decorative and practical purpose. It should, preferably, be manufactured from a non-combustible material for protection against radiant heat, sparks and embers. Materials like wood and plaster are not only a fire hazard but can also degenerate over time due to constant exposure to heat and fire.
What Materials Are the Best for Fireplace Surrounds?
A traditional fireplace surround consists of a back panel, outer hearth and mantel. Over time, architects and designers have come up with a range of materials to create one-of-a-kind fireplaces in almost any design and size. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular materials used for fireplace surrounds.
Often used in contemporary floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, Ledgestone is one of the most popular materials used for making fireplace surrounds. Here, thin strips of stones are joined vertically to look like tiny ledges, creating a soft, inviting atmosphere. With no traditional hearth or mantel, the firebox fits seamlessly into the stone, almost like a perfect piece of artwork.
There’s something about marble fireplace surrounds that’s classy, warm and elegant. Available in a range of colours, including white, granite, beige and cream, they’re quite versatile and blend with almost any type of decor, be it bright, neutral or in between. When paired with a wooden mantel, your fireplace makes a fine mélange of traditional and contemporary designs.
Cast iron surrounds look amazing with either electric fireplaces or a traditional open solid fuel fire. They come in a variety of different finishes and designs in both Victorian and Georgian styles, which make them quite versatile. Pair them with a traditional limestone-clad mantel for an eclectic, layered feel.
Created in the late 1980s, Caesarstone is a type of engineered quartz that comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns. It’s typically more affordable than natural stone varieties, which makes it a popular fireplace surround material among homeowners, interior designers and architects.
Although a mainstay fireplace material in Mexico, Southern California and South Florida, terracotta is gradually making its way into homes of all styles, all over the world. Many tile manufacturers are creating hand-painted terracotta tiles featuring contemporary, traditional, transitional, tribal and abstract patterns, which can lend a unique look to any fireplace surround. Thanks to their imperfections and inconsistencies, terracotta tiles creates an eclectic, rustic look.
Wood is not usually recommended for use in a fireplace surround due to its flammability. If you have your heart set on hardwood, wood-look porcelain tiles are a great choice. They add the look and feel of real wood to your fireplace surround, without the danger.
With crisp design and natural finishes, concrete fireplace surrounds add a contemporary feel to home interiors. They also retain the fire’s heat to keep your interiors warm. Available in a wide range of colours, designs and textures, they can lend a unique design element to your home.
Subway tiles are a versatile modern addition in almost any home. They are ideal for wet and/or humid spaces like bathrooms and kitchens. If you want a similar look for your fireplace, handcrafted crackle bricks are an excellent choice. Available in a range of sizes, colours and natural textures, handcrafted ceramic crackle bricks create a slightly rustic and casual look. In order to enhance its naturally imperfect look, use a grout colour similar to its own colour, or a contrasting one to conceal its imperfection.
Fireplaces have a special charm. They bring colour, brightness, warmth and whimsy to your home. If you don’t have a fireplace, that’s okay. With careful planning, consideration and material selection, you can add one in your own style. And now that you know the best materials for your fireplace surround, creating one shouldn’t be difficult.