Is a fireplace really a proper fireplace without a surround? For many people the answer is no. If you want to create a fireplace that has presence and acts as the focal point for your room, you need a fireplace surround. So, if you’re considering buying a fireplace surround, what are your options? What are the different types of wooden fireplace surround? Keep reading and you’ll find out!
What is a fireplace surround?
Fireplaces are made up of many different parts and components, and we know that the fireplace industry is full of jargon and technical terms. So, we want to take the opportunity to explain exactly what we mean by a fireplace surround.
Fireplace surround refers to the part of the fireplace that protrudes from the wall and surrounds the opening of the fireplace.
A fireplace surround usually consists of the following things:
- Mantel – the flat ‘shelf’ which sits horizontally above the fireplace opening. Many homeowners tend to use the mantel as somewhere to place ornaments and other objects.
- Legs – a straightforward one, the legs are the two vertical pillars which support the mantel. The legs may sometimes be adorned with corbels and plinths (see below).
- Corbel – the corbel is a bracket or block which extends out from the wall and supports the mantel. Not all surrounds feature a corbel, but where they do, corbels make a nice stylish addition to a surround.
- Bevel – a bevel (or bevelled edge) is another stylistic addition to the fireplace surround. It generally refers to an angled transition on the edge of a fireplace and isn’t necessarily found on all surrounds.
- Bolection moulding– this is a term which is sometimes used to refer to raised details on a surround. Again, you won’t always find bolection moulded details on a fireplace surround.
- Cornice – the cornice is the ornamental detail which is found along the edge of the mantel.
- Plinth – also referred to as the ‘foot’, the plinth is usually an enhanced section at the bottom of each ‘leg’ of the fireplace surround.
Note – fireplace surrounds do not always include a hearth. If you require a hearth please check the product description carefully before making a purchase.
Put together, these elements (or at least most of them), create a fireplace surround.
So, with that lesson in fireplace terminology out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the different types of wood fireplace surround that are available and the pros and cons of each.
The different types of wood fireplace surround
Wood fireplace surrounds are manufactured from a variety of timbers, each of which has its own characteristics. Below we’ve set out further information on each timber to help you decide which is best for your home.
Oak fireplace surrounds
Solid oak is, understandably, one of the most popular timbers used to create fireplace surrounds. Let’s take a look at why…
Many people are initially drawn to oak fireplace surrounds due to oak’s attractive light colour which perfectly complements the glow from a roaring fire.
Aside from its beautiful light golden colour, oak has a prominent grain which adds a sense of depth and texture to a fireplace surround.
You’ll often find oak fireplace surrounds in either natural or stained finishes. Whilst some people prefer oak in its completely natural finish, a stain can accentuate the variations and contrasts of the wood, turning it into a feature in itself.
It’s for this reason that many oak fireplace surrounds are available without heavy ornamentation or detailing; the finish of the wood is itself enough of a decoration!
Oak is also exceptionally strong. How strong? Well, the timber industry measures wood hardness using the Janka Wood Hardness Scale. The scale measures a wood’s resistance to denting and wear.
The test takes a 11.28mm diameter steel ball and measures the amount of force required to embed it half way into a piece of wood.
English Oak receives a Janka Wood Hardness Scale test result of 1,155lbf which makes it far harder than other commonly used woods such as Eastern Red Cedar (900lbf) and Radiata Pine (710lbf).
Oak is also very dimensionally stable, and whilst it is a hygroscopic material (meaning it absorbs moisture from the air), a good quality oak fireplace surround is unlikely to distort or suffer shrinkage.
Resistance to wear
Aside from being very strong, oak is also naturally resistant to fungal attack and thanks to its dense constitution is able to withstand considerable wear and tear without succumbing to damage.
That’s another reason why oak has traditionally been used to create fireplace surrounds.
As the fireplace is generally the central focal point of a room, you want the fireplace surround to be a substantial feature.
And, with oak, that’s just what you’ll get. Oak is a heavy timber with an average dried weight of 42lbs/ft³ (675kg/m³).
So, if you want a fireplace surround that’ll provide decades of service, then consider buying an oak fireplace surround.
The best oak fireplace surrounds
If you think that an oak surround is the best option for your home, what are your options? Below we’ve listed some of our most popular oak fireplace surrounds.
Cast Tec Bamburgh Solid Wooden Fire Surround
Cast Tec has been manufacturing fireplace surrounds and fireplaces since the early-1980s and it shows in the quality and exquisite detailing of the Bamburgh surround.
The Bamburgh is a large (65” mantle) solid oak surround which features stunning handcrafted Art Nouveau carvings on each leg. It’s finished in a light stain which accentuates the deep, lustrous grain of the oak.
Cast Tec Coniston Solid Wooden Fire Surround
For those of you who prefer a sleeker, more minimalistic surround, the Coniston from Cast Tec makes a perfect choice.
With no detailing or ornamentation, the Coniston allows you to admire the beautiful quality oak from which this surround is handcrafted. What’s more, the Coniston is available in a variety of finishes. Choose from a light oak stain which will enhance the oak’s appearance or leave it unfinished so you can enjoy the oak in its natural light golden brown state.
Alternatively, buy it without a stain and paint it whatever colour you like to match your home’s decor.
In other words, if you’re looking for an oak fireplace surround that you can truly make your own, choose the Coniston.
Carron Ashleigh Oak Fire Surround
Manufactured in the heart of Lincolnshire by experienced craftsmen, the Carron Ashleigh is a truly stunning fire surround.
If you’re looking for a fireplace surround that’ll make a statement, this is it. Thanks to its half-round columns the Ashleigh has a grand appearance that wouldn’t be out of place in a stately home.
The columns are separated from their bold headings by a sequence of short vertical lines that fill the width of the surround. Beneath this, a leaf detailing frames the opening of the fireplace.
The Carron Ashleigh is also available in a variety of finishes and can also be upgraded to include a hearth suitable for either a gas or electric fire or a solid fuel (wood or coal) fire.
Pine fireplace surrounds
One of the other most popular timbers used to create fireplace surrounds is pine. Below you’ll find the reasons why it’s quite so popular…
Like oak, pine is a very beautiful wood. But, in contrast to oak, pine encompasses a broader range of colours (depending on where from the tree it has been taken). It’s possible to buy pine fireplace surrounds that range from a light yellow through to red-browns.
Pine generally also has a slightly softer hue than other timbers. That means it’ll blend nicely into your home’s overall decor and is slightly more subtle than alternatives such as oak.
Pine is a strong wood. However, there are many different types of pine all of with varying degrees of hardness.
For example, Red Pine has a Janka Wood Hardness Scale test result of 1,630lbf, whilst Yellow Pine has a result of 870lbf and White Pine has a result of 420lbf (Red, Yellow and White being the most commonly used types of pine).
Nevertheless, regardless of which of these types of pines is used, you’ll be getting a strong, durable fireplace surround.
Like oak, pine is also resistant to shrinking, warping, cracking and swelling.
Resistance to wear
Pine is also resistant to wear and will provide many years’ service provided it is used in the correct environment. The use of a suitable stain can help to prolong the life of pine wood.
In contrast to oak, pine tends to be considerably lighter. This is one of the reasons it has become popular as an alternative to oak.
Not everyone wants, or is able, to use a heavy oak fireplace surround in their home!
The average dried weight of red pine is 34lbs/ft³ (545kg/m³), which when compared to oak’s dried weight of 42lbs/ft³ (675kg/m³) makes it practically a featherweight!
The best pine fireplace surrounds
Perhaps pine is a better material for you then? In that case, check out some of Direct Fireplaces’ most popular pine fireplace surrounds below.
Carron Corbel Pine Fire Surround
If you’re looking for a traditional, Georgian-style fire surround, then this is it.
The Corbel from Carron is manufactured in the heart of England and features classical Georgian styling, meaning this surround will be the centre of attention in any home.
Featuring columns with three vertical indentations and a repeated square pattern corniche below the mantel, this is one classically good-looking fireplace surround.
To add additional extra depth to the appearance of this fire surround you can also choose to have a waxed finish applied which will truly help the pine to exude its colours, grain and texture.
Carron Wexford Solid Pine Fire Surround
As with oak, pine can more than hold its own in the looks department without recourse to heavy ornamentation or detailing.
The Carron Wexford surround is a case in point. The sleek, no-nonsense lines of this surround put the pine itself front and centre of attention. If you’re looking for a minimalistic, yet elegant fire surround, then you can’t go far wrong with the Wexford.
As with many of Carron’s other pine fire surrounds, the Wexford is available with an additional wax finish which will help bring the pine’s qualities to the fore.
Gallery Collection Grand Corbel Wooden Fire Surround
Harnessing a blend of simple, elegant lines along with a measured amount of ornamentation via the decorative corbels, the Gallery Collection Grand Corbel is perfect for those of you who want a fireplace with character – but without going overboard.
The Grand Corbel is available either unfinished, or with a waxed finish, which will help to bring out the character of the solid pine.
It’s also available in two mantel sizes (54 inches or 60 inches) and is suitable for use with electric, gas or solid fuel fires.
Gallery Lincoln Pine Wood Fire Surround
The Gallery Lincoln is a very simple, understated fire surround. With clean, uncluttered lines, this fire surround looks fantastic whether you pair it with a cast iron insert or a back panel and insert fire.
Available with two different mantel widths (48-inch or 54-inch), the Gallery Lincoln is a quintessential pine wood fire surround.
Other types of fire surround materials
In addition to completely solid oak and solid pine fire surrounds, it’s also possible to buy fire surrounds which are made from a combination of woods and even combinations of other materials such as stone legs matched with pine or oak mantels. Below you’ll find a selection of these types of fire surrounds. In the description of each one we’ll tell you exactly what materials or combination of materials are used.
Gallery Bedford Wooden Fire Surround
The Gallery Bedford is a fire surround which is available with either a pine or an oak mantel. The mantels are also available in different widths – pick either 48-inch or 54-inch.
Designed with clean, simple lines, the Bedford does have an element of flair thanks to its corbels and plinths which add a degree of character to the surround without overwhelming it.
The Bedford is suitable for use with electric, gas or solid fuel fires and will look fantastic with either a period cast iron insert or a set of slate slips and a contemporary fire grate.
Pureglow Stretton Wooden Fire Surround
For a more affordable wood fire surround, choose one with a natural oak veneer – such as the Pureglow Stretton.
With its smooth lines and delicate styling, the Stretton will look good in any setting. It’s also available with an optional heart and back panel, so you can easily complete the look.
The Stretton is suitable for use with either gas or electric fires.
Pureglow Hanley Painted Wooden Fire Surround
Some people prefer their fire surrounds to add a splash of colour to their room rather than the look of oak or pine. For those people, there’s the Pureglow Hanley.
The Hanley is available in a grey finish, white and grey finish or a grey finish with an optional oak mantel.
What also sets the Hanley apart from other fire surrounds is its low-energy down lights which can be turned on to create a wonderful warm, cosy ambience.
The Hanley is available in two sizes; 48-inch or 54-inch.
Time for a new wooden fireplace surround?
Are you building a new fireplace? Or perhaps you’re renovating an old one? Either way, a wooden fireplace surround is the perfect finishing touch for a fireplace.
So, if you’re looking for a new wooden fireplace surround, shop our huge range from leading manufacturers today.
Shop wooden fireplace surrounds at Direct Fireplaces today
For more fireplace buying guides, advice and information, explore the Direct Fireplaces blog…