When we bought our home, the existing gas fireplace was sitting on a tile insert in the corner of the room. It was functional, but it was pretty plain. My husband and I decided to build up a fireplace surround to give it a finished, beautiful look. Besides, I really wanted somewhere to hang all the stockings that I’ve made my family over the years. I searched the internet for inspiration for my corner fireplace, but I didn’t really see anything that had the look I was envisioning. So we decided to just build everything from scratch. The woodworking was one the harder projects we’ve tackled in our home, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out! So read ahead to see how to build a corner stove fireplace surround and get a little inspiration for your home improvement projects!
Step One: Build The Tile Base
First, we took out the tile insert and stove and built up a base for our stove. We built the base using 2×4’s and subflooring. Then we covered it with cement board and tiled it. Marble tiles are a bit hard to cut because they like to break on their fault lines, but with a good blade on your tile saw, you’ll be okay. I got my tiles from Home Depot. I love these tiles! I think they are a bit dark for a whole room, but they work really well for a small project like this: https://www.homedepot.com/p/MS-International-Verde-Amazonia-12-in-x-12-in-Polished-Marble-Floor-and-Wall-Tile-10-sq-ft-case-TVERAMA1212/202508280
Step Two: Build Brick Surround.
We decided to go with Airstone from Lowe’s for our brick surround. I really didn’t want to have to reinforce the wall to build an actual brick surround. Plus, a brick wall would be much thicker. Stoves have a minimum distance that they must be from the wall, so a brick surround would mean that we would have to push our stove further out into the room. I didn’t want to do that, so we went with the Airstone instead and I’m really glad we did. I bought four boxes to finish our wall. I decided to mix two colors because I didn’t love either color by themselves. I bought two boxes of Autumn Mountain and two boxes of Spring Creek Blend and mixed them altogether. Installing them was simple with the recommended adhesive: https://www.lowes.com/pd/AirStone-8-sq-ft-Autumn-Mountain-Primary-Wall-Faux-Stone-Veneer/50247201
**After we installed the Airstone, I tiled the front of the fireplace. See all that wood stacked up next to the stove? We were installing our wood floor at the same time and we were making sure of some measurements before I installed the vertical tile**
Step Three: Build Mantelpiece.
Oh boy, the mantelpiece. I’m honestly lucky that our marriage survived the mantel. It was such a pain. First, we built a 1×4 base on the wall above the Airstone to support our mantel. The 1×4 base sits over the top of the Airstone to hide the top edge of the Airstone. We routed the sides and front of two oak boards to make the top of the mantelpiece and attached them to the top of the 1×4 base. The two oak boards come together with a 45 degree angled joint in the corner.
Next, we cut oak crown molding for the vertical face of the mantelpiece. This was the hardest part. I cut my outside corner pieces at 45 degree angles and they lined up pretty nicely (after a couple infuriating misses). You can see from the picture that my guide (the vertical brace) is pretty short so I couldn’t brace the top and bottom edges of my crown molding against it. Instead, I had to brace it backwards, with just the top edge of my molding braced against the saw. Luckily, I was able to hold it steady and cut my outside corners cleanly (eventually).
Last, we cut the inside corner for the crown molding. The inside corner was the hardest of all. Inside corners tend to open up in woodworking, so the best way to deal with them is to cope them. Don’t worry, I’d never heard of it before this, either. Coping is really hard to explain but you’re basically cutting the meat off the back of a mitered cut, and then installing that edge along the front of a straight cut piece of molding that is installed all the way to the corner. That way, the corner can’t open up because there is continuous wood behind the coped edge. Honestly, we struggled with it at first (we practiced on some scrap pieces first), but I’m really happy with how the finished coping turned out. This Old House has a video that explains the process better than I ever could: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-cope-joint-crown-molding
Step Four: Finish With Oak Trim
Finally, I installed matching oak trim pieces along the bottom of the mantelpiece and along the floor as well to tie everything together and used corner oak trim to finish the leading edge of the tile base as well. I installed this braided trim along the bottom of the mantelpiece and on the floor with a nail gun: https://www.homedepot.com/p/House-of-Fara-1-4-in-x-1-in-x-84-in-Oak-Embossed-Rope-Moulding-9708/202705451
I used corner trim on the front edge of the tile. I installed this with adhesive since I couldn’t nail into the tile: https://www.homedepot.com/p/House-of-Fara-1-in-x-1-in-x-8-ft-Oak-Outside-Corner-Moulding-9568/203116488
I stained all of my wood to match my existing oak trim in my house ( I had to mix a couple stains to get the right color and covered it with polyeurethane to protect it.
I LOVE the way my mantelpiece turned out! With my spinning wheel next to it, this is by far my favorite place in my whole house. I hope this inspires you to make a nice mantelpiece surround for your stove. If you hurry, you might have your stockings hung by your chimney with care by Christmas 🙂
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