DIFFICULTY: Intermediate

The center of any living room should be the fireplace. This is a special place in the house because it brings people together. I have wonderful memories of the fireplace that was in my house as a kid growing up in Georgia. We were lucky and had a real wood working fireplace.  Not many fireplaces these days are wood burning, most of them use natural gas. The fireplace I grew up with was always a special place full of great memories and laughter. Now that I have my own home I decided to build my fireplace surround based on the classic Shaker Style, clean, simple and timeless.

I have provided plans for you to download if you want to build this fireplace for your home.

Watch The Videos

Building A Shaker Fireplace Surround

How I Installed the Shaker Fireplace Surround and Mantel

How To Build A Shaker Mantel


1”x3”x6” Select Pine7Select Pine is okay, Poplar is best https://homedepot.sjv.io/1AyWR
1”x4”x6” Select Pine4Select Pine is okay, Poplar best https://homedepot.sjv.io/ZWLyq
Molding Cove 9/16”x3.5”10ftThis is not at your local hardware store https://www.owlhardwood.com/mouldings.html
2”x4”x8” Pine1Framing lumber https://homedepot.sjv.io/xMjkA
1”x6”x6” Select Pine1Select Pine https://homedepot.sjv.io/AqjbJ
2”x10”x96” Poplar14/4 (true 1in thick) Poplar board is best however if you can’t find it a standard 2”x10” will work https://www.owlhardwood.com/domestic-lumber.html
1/4”x24”x48” MDF1MDF board https://homedepot.sjv.io/rADNy
1/2”x3x36”1S4S Polar Board https://homedepot.sjv.io/R4nqa


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β€’ 40 in. Bessey REVOlution Parellel Clamp (4 clamps) | https://amzn.to/2XghYjj
β€’ Cordless Nail Gun Kit | https://amzn.to/38C1rPy
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Titebond 31The best wood glue https://amzn.to/3dyUEXo
1” 1/4” Screws25Kreg Jig 1” 1/4” pan-head coarse screws https://amzn.to/3aMDxQd
1” 1/4” Brad Nails1Box of brad nails https://amzn.to/2ygWw7j
3/4” Brad Nails1Box of brad nails https://amzn.to/2vXUPe6
2” 1/2” Wood Screws1Box of wood screws http://amzn.to/1SZAQfN 
3” Wood Screws1Box of wood screws https://amzn.to/39Za0DU
220 grit sandpaper1Pack https://amzn.to/33SfEnu
Thin Set Mortar1White Thin Set Mortar http://amzn.to/23p73FA
Grout1White Grout  http://amzn.to/1NkKAwL
Ultraset SF1Ultraset SF for covering the metal so your tile can stick – https://bit.ly/39W1TaS
Liquid Nails1Liquid Nails (Optional) https://amzn.to/3iCvE4K
Carrara White Marble10Carrara White Marble 12×12 sheets – http://amzn.to/1YpJyFH
Caulk2DAP Caulk White https://amzn.to/2UlWHXq
Wood Putty132oz DAP Plastic Wood Putty https://amzn.to/33NNPwQ
White Paint11gal White Urethane Paint http://bit.ly/3skvDa0
Tile Spacers11/8 Inches Wide Tile Spacers https://amzn.to/3c4afQF


How to build a shaker fireplace surround. Please note this is a basic instruction how to for a more detailed version be sure to download the plans.

Step 1

Watch the video and download the blueprints.

Step 2

First, lay your tile. This was probably the most challenging part of the build. The one thing you need to keep in mind when laying tile around a fireplace is that the walls and surround are going to get very hot. The heat from the wood or gas burning fireplace release a lot of thermal heat into the room and surrounding walls where the fireplace is installed.

The other thing you need to remember is that you cannot lay tile over metal without some type of membrane. The reason is that the mortar can’t adhere to metal it will just slide off or dray and crack. I did a lot of research and came across a great product Ultraset SF by Bostik. You can purchase Ultraset SF online or your local tile dealer may be able to order it for you. This stuff worked great and did the job. I didn’t realize how sticky it would be. It has the consistency of thick putty or really sticky chewing gum. I recommend you use gloves before even opening the case. If you get this stuff on your hands won’t be able to get it off easily, trust me I learned the hard way. I would purchase the G & F 3100 Knit Glove with Textured Latex Coating from Amazon, you will be glad you did. This will give you the textile feedback you need to get the job done and won’t break down or fall apart if the Ultaset happens to get on them.

Step 3

Cut your material to size. If you don’t have all the tools to cut down your material, most hardware stores will pre-cut it for you.

Step 4

Drill your pocket holes.

Step 5

Glue and assemble your fireplace surround.

Step 6

Attach the surround to the wall by installing 2×3 blocks of wood to the drywall. I used liquid nails and screws. You can see by the picture that the 2×3 blocks of wood are screwed into the drywall and that I then placed the boxes I made over the blocks to hold them in place. Once the boxes were in place I simply used my nail gun and nailed them to the block of wood.

Step 7

Next I installed my fireplace mantel top

Step 8

Before you paint your surround you will need to caulk and wood putty and cracks or holes. Be sure to sand everything smooth.

Step 9

I painted my fireplace white. I recommend using an enamel based paint. This is much more durable than acrylic based paint.

The Built-ins and Bookshelves

After I finished building my fireplace surround I then began working on the build-ins on either side of the fireplace. I continued the shaker look and feel thought the design of the cabinets and bookshelves.


This is a paragraph.It is justify aligned. It gets really mad when people associate it with Justin Timberlake. Typically, justified is pretty straight laced. It likes everything to be in its place and not all cattywampus like the rest of the aligns. I am not saying that makes it better than the rest of the aligns, but it does tend to put off more of an elitist attitude.


Aaron May 18, 2016 at 11:36 pm

I REALLY like the look of your built-ins and fireplace surround. I’m looking to do just about the same thing in my living room. A couple of quick questions if you don’t mind: 1) What is the height from the floor to the top of the mantel; 2) What is the width and depth of the fireplace surround legs?

Thanks in advance, and I’ll definitely be referencing your blog as I go through my DIY project!



    Philip Miller May 24, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Aaron, I will have to measure as I don’t recall the size off hand. The most important thing is that the size needs to be proportional to your fireplace opening. There are many sizes that fireplaces come in and you need to keep everything in scale in width and height around the opening. I wanted to have 6in of stone around the fireplace and I then worked out the size from there. I think the width of the legs is close to 8in but that is going off memory. I will try and post the detailed dimensions for everyone.


Deric June 24, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Hi Philip,

So I have build a mantel a year or so ago and every day, I regret how thin I made the legs and how high it stood. While googling, "Shaker style fireplace surrounds", I found your gem! I have build 80% and spending a lot of time with wood filler and sanding prior to 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint (may use my friends sprayer). Anyways, can you explain the mantel (top shelf to the mouldings used). I see that you listed a WM86 but it seems like more. Just trying to get it completed before she comes back from a business trip – I can send photos but it has come out really nice. Thanks for your images and blog!


Melody October 7, 2016 at 3:10 am

May I ask is the fireplace electrical? If so, what size and where did you purchase it?


Joe November 25, 2016 at 4:16 pm

This might be a silly question, but did you attach the mantel to the surround/legs? Or is the mantel secured to the wall independently of the legs?


Josh December 1, 2016 at 3:41 am

I have a few questions.
How did you attach the 1/4" MDF to the poplar?
How did you attach the horizontal pieces of the surround of the legs?
Lastly, how did you build the middle section under the mantle and how did you attach it?
Thanks in advance.


    Philip Miller December 1, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    There is a section in the video at the 1:30min mark that shows how the MDF was attached. I cut a channel in the poplar and then glued and nailed it on the back side. I believe the nails I used were very small like 1/2in or less but longer than 1/4in.

    The horizontal pieces that completes the square on the side are simply milled 1/4in thick poplar glued and nailed from the back side of the MDF.

    The middle section is just a box like the two sides. I attached it to a 2×3 that is mounted on the wall and then nailed it in from the top and bottom and later patched the nail holes with wood putty.


BB December 8, 2016 at 12:12 am

What a fantastic job! I’ve watched all of the videos that you posted on this project. Thanks for the instructions.

My husband and I are buying a house that doesn’t have a fireplace in the living room, which is odd as we’ve always had a fireplace. Plus, we need something to serve as an entertainment center. What you made is exactly what I want for my new front room. As there’s no fireplace, I guess we would have to start by making a frame to build out the wall
and then add dry wall.

Thanks again!


Brian Damato January 22, 2017 at 4:24 am

How did you figure out the scale of the sides and top under the mantel? I’m just trying to find the right size between the pieces of popular you used and the space between them.


    Philip Miller January 23, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    That is a good question. It took me some time to figure out the correct scale. The first thing I did was figure out the size of my tile. This really helped me fine tune my adjustments. I actually sketched it out on the wall before I committed to cutting anything. The popular used is 2.5in wide. The hardest part about it all was that my fireplace opening was not in scale to what I designed. I had to make an adjustment to the top where I decided that I would rather have the right and left side equal to each other and the top could be different. This thought and idea worked for me. I did however make a minor .5in error, but no one would see it but me. I filled the top gap with a white painted piece of poplar that butted up against the tile. I would just say to sketch it out on the wall if you can. measure as many times as you can before committing. Best of Luck.


Kevin July 28, 2017 at 11:21 pm

Are the boxes of the mantel attached to the floor? And what did you use to put under the fireplace itself? It looks like you have a very thin piece of wood painted wait between the floor and the fireplace.


interior design interior design">August 9, 2017 at 10:17 am

how many days it will to do?


Jason September 1, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Great job! My wife and I are planning on starting this project soon. I noticed that you do not have a hearth. Is a hearth required by building code?


    Philip Miller September 1, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Because my fireplace is a gas burning and not a log burning I didn’t build a hearth. I want aware of any building codes that I needed or required one they are more for protecting your flooring if an amber gets out.


Devin B Devin B">September 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Hi Philip – love the work. Did you have a chance to take the dimensions? Just the generals would help tremendously (e.g. L, H W, D). Also, what is the specific style and size of crown molding? The link goes to a generic list. Lastly, what size and type of board did you use for the mantel slab on top? Thanks!!


Dan Q Dan Q">October 11, 2017 at 2:05 pm

Hi Phillip – Great job! I’m looking to replicate your design. How thick is the mantle shelf? In your response to Devin B. you indicate the depth is 8.25 but I don’t see any listing of this in your material list. The mantle you listed shows 1x5x60?? Your shelf looks thicker than 1"


Ryan Booth October 13, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Phillip, I am 2/3 of the way done in replicating your design but I can’t figure out how you attached the mantle shelf to the surround. Any suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated!


Arie Vandervelden February 2, 2018 at 12:35 am

Hello Phillip,

Wonderful fireplace surround! I’m in the process of building something similar myself. The wood/MDF part of the surround is well within the minimum clearances to combustible materials, according to the specs of my gas insert, but I’m still worried about heat. Will regular latex interior paint put up with so much heat? Will it peel, crack, or discolor? Also, you said: "Before I painted the surround I had to caulk the cracks and fill any holes with wood putty … I used caulk because the fireplace will emit a lot of heat. Wood putty will crack under heat and that is why you should always use something like caulk for cracks when the situation permits." Did you use any wood putty or only caulk? What kind of caulk did you use? Painters DAP or something else? I appreciate your feedback. Arie


    Philip Miller February 2, 2018 at 1:42 am

    Hi, thank you for the comment. I have not had any issues with heat or cracking. But keep in mind I have never had my fireplace run for hrs and hrs. There is always a risk in the expanding and contracting. I used quality caulk and wood putty. As long as the back of the fireplace is vented correctly you should have no issues. The details and dimensions of the fireplace are all in the instruction blueprint on my Etsy shop. Happy building -Philip


What color did you use for mantel? What type of paint brush? April 25, 2018 at 6:20 pm

What color did you use for the mantel? And what type paint brush did you use?


Danielle August 31, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Hi there, I am only interested in the fireplace instructions not the rest. How do I go about downloading simply that? I’ll be attempting it myself.


Erika Surbaugh January 31, 2019 at 7:53 pm

I see there is a small wooden strip on the bottom. How is this attached? Did you glue it to marble and fireplace? What kind of wood is it and how thick/tall is it? I have a similar set up and would love to add something like this. Thanks!


Laura April 2, 2020 at 8:40 pm

Where did you buy your mantle piece from? My husband is having difficulty locating a place that sells that thickness.


Jamie July 5, 2020 at 10:58 pm

What did you use as the top coat? A poly or a wax or something else?


Dickson August 24, 2020 at 9:59 pm

Great job! How on the surround did you connect the side to the front? Is it a 45 degree connected or just flat to flat with lot’s of sanding etc? Thanks Dickson


Neal October 23, 2020 at 9:34 pm

Philip, really nice design. I recently order your plans and starting to line up materials now. Question: for my fireplace I need the center section to be at least 49" wide, and having a hard time finding 1/4" MDF locally longer than 4′ (typ. 47 3/4"). Any suggestions?


Anica November 24, 2020 at 10:29 pm

Approximately how much did it cost for the materials


Maruthi Interiors Maruthi Interiors">February 20, 2021 at 4:59 am

Well written and how much the cost will be


Magazyny Energii Magazyny Energii">February 24, 2024 at 4:49 am

Your article was a pleasure to read. The information was well-presented and extremely useful.


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