Some considerations when choosing a fireplace surround design include whether to go with a prefabricated model or a custom design, whether the weight of the mantel requires reinforcement, and the homeowner's preferred type of material. Since surrounds frame the firebox, they must be constructed of non-combustible material.
Prefabricated full mantels and surrounds provide a coordinated look for cost-conscious homeowners. They are made to fit corner and full-face fireplaces. The prefab models can also save time because some can be installed in less than a day.
A custom surround and mantel may be the way to go if the homeowner wants a unique design that perfectly coordinates with the room. The homeowner chooses all of the colors and materials for the entire mantel, including the surround.
Perhaps the most traditional material used for surrounds is stone or brick. Homeowners can find a variety of colors and styles that coordinate well with their decor. Because of the weight, the builder may have to reinforce the mantel. A lighter-weight option is tile.
One popular material for surrounds is metal. Although metal is a staple in contemporary fireplace design, historical reproductions with verdigris or hand-rubbed gold are also popular.
Concrete is one of the most versatile materials for surrounds and mantels. Many prefabricated surrounds are available in a variety of colors and can be finished in an acid wash, smooth or sandblast finish. Surrounds and mantels made of concrete are usually reinforced with glass fiber to reduce the weight.