Where DIY Fireplace Makeovers Go Wrong

Your dated brick fireplace has been driving you crazy ever since you moved in. Be careful looking on Pinterest for inspiration. I have recently been pinning some inspirational fireplace surrounds, but noticed a lot of DIY makeovers that get it all wrong. Look for these 4 offending elements:

1) FIRE!! – I have seen many DIY fireplace makeovers with wood slats installed right up to the firebox, which is very dangerous! Check with your local municipal building authority to determine what codes requirements are in your home, but many require you meet ‘International Residential Code’ requirements:

” R1001.11 Fireplace clearance.
Exception 4. Exposed combustible mantels or trim may be placed directly on the masonry fireplace front surrounding the fireplace opening providing such combustible materials are not placed within 6 inches (152 mm) of a fireplace opening. Combustible material within 12 inches (306 mm) of the fireplace opening shall not project more than 1/8 inch (3 mm) for each 1-inch (25 mm) distance from such an opening. “

2) Materials – I have nothing against painting brick. Some DIY makeovers get great results with Chalk Paint or whitewash. Where people get it wrong is by using the latest trendy grey paint or grey stone veneer when everything else in the room is beige. If you want to keep your carpet, your new surround material needs to work with it! Glass tile belongs in a bathroom, not on a fireplace. Avoid trendy tile patterns like chevron or Moroccan patterns or large grout lines.

3) Proportion – Getting proportions correct can be difficult for a DIYer. Designers, who work with proportion everyday, use elevation drawings as a tool to work out proportions on paper first.

4) Depth – When adding a stone veneer or tile, a lot of DIY makeovers do not take into account the depth of the added material in relation to any wood pilasters. I have seen a lot of examples where the new stone projects beyond the wood, or is only set back 1/4″ or so. This makes the entire surround feel very flat and one-dimensional.