At the heart of your home lies the hearth, where your family and friends gather and your design visually centers itself. With that much attention drawn to one area, it is potentially a canvas for your unique design vision.

We're here to help you turn your fireplace into a masterpiece that reflects the soul of your home and the people who live in it.

Ready to get started? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the custom process and elevate your space.


Labeled picture of a fireplace and all its parts.


1. Get on the Same Page 

We want to make sure we communicate well so the first, and most important step in the process is making sure we’re all on the same page. We’ll be asking you to take measurements of different parts of your fireplace and surrounding areas so let’s start with a little anatomy lesson.  

Mantel shelf: this is the top piece of the fireplace mantel surround, or mantel piece. 

Mantel legs: the legs are on either side of the fireplace and make up the vertical sides of the fireplace mantel surround. They are usually connected to the mantel shelf. 

Hearth: the hearth is the area in front of the fireplace that sits on the floor 

Firebox: the firebox is the “box” where the actual fire is. Whether it is a wood or gas fire, or an electric fireplace, there is a firebox present. 

Facing: the facing is the forward-facing border or frame that goes around the firebox and inside of the mantel shelf and legs. It includes a header (top), legs (sides), and may include a riser. The riser is the amount of space between the floor and the bottom of the firebox. Some fireboxes sit right against the floor and don’t have a riser. 


Diagram of a fireplace and all the parts of a mantel including the mantel surround, facing, and riser.


Once you’re familiar with all the parts of your fireplace, talking about your custom surround is a snap. 


 2. Talk about Your Project 

This is likely one of the first things a Mantels Direct representative will ask you to do. They need to know if you’re working with an existing fireplace, are adding a bump out, or are doing a new build. They need to know what type of fireplace you want.  

It’s an initial conversation that helps your rep get to know your project so they can be as helpful as possible. If you’re still not sure about all the details, that’s ok. Your rep can help you iron out those details or at least point you in the right direction. 

Having a few pictures to send your rep is always helpful in showing us exactly what your project looks like and what you’re trying to accomplish. 


Illustration of how to measure the height and width of your firebox.>


3. Know about Your Firebox 

If you have an existing fireplace, gather as much information as possible about your firebox as possible. There are two basic questions your rep will ask about your firebox: what it’s made of, and its measurements.  

Your firebox material is key information needed for your rep to give you good recommendations and come up with a solid custom plan. It will affect how your fireplace mantel surround is installed and could also affect the material you choose. Most fireboxes are either metal or brick. 

To measure your firebox, get the height and the width of the opening of your fireplace. Do not measure from the outside edge or from the fireplace mantel surround. More on this below.  


Illustration of the different parts of a fireplace surround and how to measure them. 


4. Get Your Dimensions 

All fireplace mantel surrounds, custom and otherwise, are based on the opening of your firebox. Our rep will use a formula using your firebox measurements to determine how to move forward with your project. Beyond taking measurements for your firebox, you’ll also need to measure the riser (if you have one). 


 5. Know Your Local Fire Codes 

Fire codes vary from state to state, and sometimes from county to county. Fire codes are important to know before you select your fireplace mantel surround or create a custom order. That way you can ensure you are building a fireplace that will be safe and up to code. 


Marble fireplace mantel facing. 


6. Decide on a Fireplace Mantel Surround Material 

Whether you want stone or wood, material plays an important role in planning a custom fireplace surround. The materials you choose will not only be influenced by design style, but also by local fire codes for combustible materials clearance, and by the type of firebox you have. Your rep is an expert at finding the right material for your specific needs (both style and safety). 


7. Be Ready to Discuss Facing Kits 

Your Mantels Direct rep will ask you if you need facing. Facing is the material that faces out to the room, sits flush with the firebox, and frames the firebox. It might be the only decoration around your fireplace, or you might have a mantel shelf and legs around the outside of the facing.  

At Mantels Direct, we offer facing kits that include facing for the top and sides of the firebox, plus a hearth. Some come with a riser and some don’t. They are available in granite, marble, limestone, travertine, and slate.  

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BONUS: Custom Services Available at Mantels Direct 

Like we said earlier, we truly believe that we can help you bring your vision to life. We can customize many of the mantels, surrounds, or shelves you see on our website. Here’s a taste of what we can do when it comes to surrounds. 


We offer fireplace mantel surrounds in a selection of standard sizes but we also can custom build a surround to your specifications. 

Color & Finish 

Choose from an array of finish colors to customize your wood mantel surround. You can also order your mantel unfinished or with primer only so you can paint it your favorite color. 

Facing & Fireplace Mantel Surround 

Create a truly unique fireplace by choosing a facing kit plus a mantel to achieve a look all your own. The combinations are nearly endless. Our rep can help you find a facing kit and mantel surround that will work together well.  


Another way to customize your fireplace is to accessorize. Little details can make all the difference. Add a screen, a grate, a set of tools; or go with some andirons to spruce up your custom vibes.  


Ready to get started? Our reps are standing by to discuss your dream fireplace surround. Give us a call or live chat with us today. 

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