Last week I revealed and shared how we built our DIY electric fireplace. I had many requests to share how we created the DIY faux plaster fireplace surround; today, I will share just that! The best part is, you can add this to an existing fireplace, so basically anyone can do this!
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I had a general idea of what I wanted our DIY electric fireplace surround to look like and wanted something budget-friendly. I love the look of cast stone fireplaces and even considered purchasing one, but ultimately decided against it because I knew we could recreate the look for 1/10th of the cost. I also didn’t want to wait months on shipping if I ordered a stone fireplace.
The fireplace design I came up with is actually super simple. It looks more complicated than it is, trust me. This design only uses three different types of moulding, keep reading to learn how to make this fireplace surround.
Side note, I created a faux plaster finish, but you don’t have to add the plaster finish if you want a smoother finish without the additional texture.
DIY Faux Plaster Fireplace Surround
- (2) 3/4-in x 12-in x 8-ft Primed MDF Board
- (1) 1-in x 2-in x 8-ft Square Primed Pine Board
- (4) 1-in x 4-in x 8-ft Square Primed Pine Board
- (2) 1-in x 3 1/4-in x 8-ft Primed MDF Casing
- (2) 3/4-in Cove Moulding
- (1) 11/16-in Cove Moulding
- 200 Grit Sanding Block
- Nail Gun
- Paint (we used Behr Roman Plaster in a matte finish)
- Plaster of Paris
- Miter Saw
Step 1 – Measuring and laying the base
From the start of this project, I knew I wanted the mantel to sit at 48″ from the floor. The top of our surround ended up being slightly higher, at 48 3/4″ from the floor. Check out all of our fireplace specifications and sizing here.
We started by framing the fireplace unit with a 1-in x 2-in x 8-ft Square Primed Pine Board. We cut the corners at 45-degree angles for all our cuts.
Nate created a ‘base’ for the moulding with a 12″ wide primed MDF board. Because we cut corners at 45-degree angles, we were just a few inches short of using one 8′ board, so we had to use two. We nailed this into the fireplace framing studs (you can also use glue to make it extra secure).
For this project, we had to purchase a new miter saw because we needed one that had a larger saw blade. Nate picked out this miter saw and said it’s a significant upgrade from our last miter saw with more features and cuts wider boards easier.
Step 2 – Framing and preparing the surround
After Nate installed the base made of MDF, he then cut and added 1-in x 4-in x 8-ft Square Primed Pine Board to the outside of the base. This step is where you can get creative with the design. If you want a deeper fireplace surround, use a wider board, such as a 1×6″.
This part is a little confusing, so I will try to explain this next step. After adding the outside of the surround, the moulding I selected was only one inch thick, so we needed to ‘beef’ up the area behind the moulding. We had extra 1-in x 4-in x 8-ft Square Primed Pine Board boards and stacked two of them on top of each other to get the depth we needed. We also spaced these boards out 3/4″ from the outside of the surround. The moulding I purchased was the same width as the 1×4″ pine boards, and I wanted to add a lip around the edge of the moulding. Because we spaced the boards out 3/4″ from the outside of the surround, there was a gap; however, the moulding covered the opening once installed.
Step 3 – Adding the moulding
We added 1-in x 3 1/4-in x 8-ft primed MDF casing using 45-degree miter cuts in the corners. We attached it to the top of the 1×4″s but flush to the outside, covering the gap. We installed it with nails, but again, you can always add glue for extra support.
Next, we added this 3/4-in cove moulding to the inside of the stacked 1×4″s to create a rounded edge. At this time, Nate also ripped down the bottom piece of the base, using the 12″ wide primed MDF. He had been waiting for better weather since it’s been so cold and snowy outside and finally could rip down this board on a nicer day.
The last piece we added was a smaller 11/16-in cove moulding around the 1×2″ that surrounds the fireplace unit. Once Nate installed the cove moulding, I felt like the surround was complete, but you can always keep going and add more pieces to create more detail. I forgot to take a picture of this moulding installed so here it is after we applied the plaster finish.
Once we finished installing all the moulding, I filled the nail holes and caulked all the seams. Caulking is one of the easiest things you can do during a DIY that makes a big difference.
Step 4 – Texture and Paint
Because I wanted this fireplace to resemble a cast stone fireplace, something with organic texture and slight movement, I added a faux plaster finish to the moulding. You do not have to add plaster and can skip this step and go right to painting.
To create the faux plaster finish, I used a coat of Plaster of Paris and quickly applied it with a paintbrush, creating brush strokes in different directions. Plaster Of Paris dries very quickly, so I mixed a small amount at a time and applied it right away. I used less water and more plaster to create a chunkier, more textured finish.
The plaster was dry a few hours later, so I smoothed out any rough spots with a 200 grit sanding block. I then painted the entire surround with Behr Roman Plaster in a matte finish. I also purchased an antique glaze for a darker finish; however, I opted not to apply the glaze as it darkened the fireplace finish more than I would like.
I’m considering painting the fireplace surround in the future (so don’t be surprised), and it will depend on what this beige color looks like with our new sofa (that comes later this month). It would be fun to see the surround painted a warm, raisin-brown color. That’s probably the best part; I can easily change the look of the whole fireplace by painting the surround a different color.
We still need to finish the crown moulding at the top but have been waiting for the weather to be above 40 degrees since Nate uses our driveway for cutting with the saw. You know what they say, all projects are never 100% complete. Cutting crown moulding can be tricky, so we use this crown moulding jig.
Faux Plaster Fireplace Surround Cost
(This is assuming you already have a nail gun, miter saw, and some of the smaller things)
- (2) 3/4-in x 12-in x 8-ft Primed MDF Board: $47.74
- (1) 1-in x 2-in x 8-ft Square Primed Pine Board: $6.04
- (4) 1-in x 4-in x 8-ft Square Primed Pine Board: $70.24
- (2) 1-in x 3 1/4-in x 8-ft Primed MDF Casing: $53.50
- (2) 3/4-in Cove Moulding: $23.30
- (1) 11/16-in Cove Moulding: $11.16
- 220 Grit Sanding Block: $4.98
- Paint (I just used the sample paint): $4.99
- Paint Brush: $4.98
- Plaster of Paris: $9.99
Not bad considering my inspiration was a $3k fireplace surround. You can also save money by not using primed boards and using pine boards, but I wanted to avoid any wood knots or wood grain.
Let me know what questions you have, I’m happy to help! I also used this blog post as a guide when I selected our moulding and how it would all fit together.