How To Frame A Fireplace

Now that you have selected the electric fireplace insert of your choice, it’s time to frame the opening for it. The framing process is similar for gas and wood-burning fireplaces, but there are some differences so we will go over them both.

For a gas fireplace, you will need to frame the opening so that the mantel or surround can be attached. The surround typically covers the framing lumber and is decorative. The mantel is a shelf that sits on top of the surround and may or may not cover the framing lumber.

For a wood-burning fireplace, you will need to frame the opening so that the mantel or surround can be attached and so that the firebox can be attached. The firebox is the box that holds the fire and is built into or attached to a wood-burning fireplace.

An electric fireplace insert can be inserted directly into an existing opening as long as it is framed according to codes in your area as well as the manufacturer’s installation instructions for your specific unit. If you are not sure how to frame the opening, it is suggested to have a general contractor or someone who is familiar with framing and installing fireplaces install your electric fireplace insert.

Let’s get started!

To Frame A Gas Fireplace Surround

  1. If you haven’t already done so in another project, build a square box in the center of the opening using 2x4s. This frame will be attached to the back of the fireplace and need only be a few inches deep, just enough for it not to look out of place in an otherwise empty space.
  2. If you have a gas line going into the wall where your insert will go, install a 90° elbow on top of the gas line coming up from the floor. If you are not sure how to install a gas line or if your fireplace is too far away from the existing gas line, then hire a general contractor or plumber to do it for you.
  3. Cut and attach pieces of 2x4s on the top and bottom of the square box that was created in step 1 using nails or screws.
  4. Cut and attach a piece of 2×4 to the front of the opening (the side that the fireplace will be seen from) using nails or screws. This board should be flush with the inside edge of the framing lumber that was created in step 1.
  5. Measure and cut the boards that will be used for the fireplace surround to fit around the square box. If you are not sure how to measure and cut these boards, then hire a general contractor or carpenter to do it for you.
  6. Attach the fireplace surround boards using nails or screws driven through the top of the board into the 2x4s that were created in step 1. Make sure that the surround boards are level and square with each other.
  7. If you do not want to attach a mantel to your fireplace, then you can simply use another piece of 2x4s to fill in the space where the fireplace insert will go so it looks like it is flush against the wall. If you do want to attach a mantel, then you will need to create that now.
  8. Attach the mantel using nails or screws driven through the top of the board and into the surround pieces and 2x4s created in steps 4 and 5. If you are not sure how to measure and cut these boards, then hire a general contractor or carpenter to do it for you.

To Frame A Wood Burning Fireplace

  1. If you haven’t already done so in another project, build a square box in the center of the opening using 2x4s. This frame will be attached to the back of the fireplace and need only be a few inches deep, just enough for it not to look out of place in an otherwise empty space.
  2. If you have a gas line going into the wall where your insert will go, install a 90° elbow on top of the gas line coming up from the floor. If you are not sure how to install a gas line or if your fireplace is too far away from the existing gas line, then hire a general contractor or plumber to do it for you.
  3. Cut and attach pieces of 2x4s on the top and bottom of the square box that was created in step 1 using nails or screws.
  4. Cut and attach a piece of 2×4 to the front of the opening (the side that the fireplace will be seen from) using nails or screws. This board should be flush with the inside edge of the framing lumber that was created in step 1.
  5. Cut and attach a piece of 2×4 to the back of the opening (the opposite side from where your insert will go. If you are not sure how to cut and attach a board, then hire a general contractor or carpenter to do it for you.
  6. Measure and cut the boards that will be used for the fireplace surround to fit around the square box. If you are not sure how to measure and cut these boards, then hire a general contractor or carpenter to do it for you.
  7. Attach the fireplace surround boards using nails or screws driven through the top of the board into the 2x4s that were created in steps 1 and 3. Make sure that the surround boards are level and square with each other.
  8. If you do not want to attach a mantel to your fireplace, then you can simply use another piece of 2x4s to fill in the space where the fireplace insert will go so it looks like it is flush against the wall. If you do want to attach a mantel, then you will need to create that now.
  9. Attach the mantel using nails or screws driven through the top of the board and into the surround pieces and 2x4s created in steps 4, 5, and 7. If you are not sure how to measure and cut these boards, then hire a general contractor or carpenter to do it for you.
  10. Install your electric fireplace insert according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  11. Enjoy your new framed fireplace!

Framing a fireplace is not that difficult of a project on its own, however, it can get complicated if you are installing some other type of fireplaces like an electric fireplace insert or gas fireplace. If this is your first attempt at framing a fireplace, then I suggest hiring a general contractor or carpenter to do the work for you.

To learn more about creating fireplaces and other woodworking projects, take a look at these book titles.

To learn how to create other parts of your home’s interior, check out the articles available in this category.

Other good books that are good to have on hand when designing or building anything for your home include “The Complete Photo Guide to Home Improvement” and “Home Repair & Improvement Bible.”

How To Build An Outdoor Fireplace With Cinder Blocks

How To Get More Heat From Gas Fireplace