The fireplace in your home is a central hub for family activity. It gives you warmth when you curl up with a good book, watch a show, and play board games with your children. It is also an integral part of treasured holiday traditions and the perfect place to display family photos throughout the years.

With so many important functions, you probably want your fireplace to look its best, and updating your fireplace surround is a fantastic way to give your whole living room a facelift.

A Brief History

Brick has been the traditional surround for hundreds of years because it has a magnificent way of retaining heat. This necessary property made it the perfect material for keeping rooms warm even after the fire went out.
Around the beginning of the 1800s, decorative mantels around the fireplace started to get trendy, and suddenly people were finding their previously drab brick hearth transformed by stonework, paneling and woodwork, and fabric.
Inventors kept tinkering with the fireplace designs, and the style shifted from deep, wide fireplaces to shallow, tall, and angled fireplaces that gave off more heat to the room. Eventually, as coal became more popular than wood, the fireplace designs shifted again to include ornate metal baskets and grates to hold coal.

In the early 1900s, people’s tastes swung away from elaborate designs, and fireplaces took on a simple appearance again. Since then, gas or electric fireplaces have replaced traditional wood or coal fireplaces in many circumstances. Though some people still rely on their fireplaces for the primary heat source, nowadays, most fireplaces are mainly for decoration as modern HVAC systems can usually handle the cold with ease.

If you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of ways to refresh old brick (painting, whitewashing, doing a German Smear, or building a new surround, to name a few). If you have a little more set aside to redo your fireplace surround completely, these are our top picks for what materials to use:

Granite

Granite is no longer only used as countertops for your kitchen or bathroom. You can use this beautiful natural stone around your fireplace as well. It is gorgeous as well as heat-resistant, scratch-resistant, and chip-resistant. It only requires minimal upkeep (resealing once or twice a year depending on the type of granite), and soapy water is all you need to clean it.

Granite comes in colors like iron red, jade green, emerald pearl, colonial white, black, and Alaska white. The styles and patterns are as varied as your tastes, and you can choose between a few different finishes for added texture.
Contrary to what you might think, granite doesn’t need to be heavy or bulky. You can find thin granite veneers or wall tiles in every color for a chic, modern look at a fraction of the price.

Ledgestone

Ledgestone is another fantastic option for a fireplace surround. Ledgestone is made up of thin, natural or manmade stones stacked on top of each other, which creates an interesting profile that adds dimension to any room. Ledgestone comes in several different natural stone varieties including:

  • Marble
  • Slate
  • Granite
  • Sandstone
  • Travertine
  • Limestone
  • Quartzite

Slate, marble, granite, quartzite, and travertine are probably the best choices to use as a fireplace surround because they are durable, scratch-resistant, and heat-resistant. Sandstone and limestone, while lovely and earthy, might be a little too soft to live through the beating that can occur at the hearth.

Marble

Marble has been used throughout the ages because it is gorgeous and has a way of going with everything. Marble is heat-resistant, and it doesn’t chip or crack easily.

Solid marble is always an option if you have extra funds set aside, but a much more affordable option is marble tiles. These smaller, thinner tiles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you can create unique patterns and designs around your fireplace.

Concrete

Concrete countertops are becoming quite trendy in the home design world, but concrete is also suitable for fireplace surrounds. It is durable, eco-friendly, and heat-resistant, and it allows for all kinds of inlays, aggregates, colors, and finishes. Concrete can be pre-cast to specific shapes, or it can be poured on-site for a custom finish.

Contrary to popular belief, concrete is not less expensive than other natural stone options, especially if you add specialty finished or inlays. It also requires a little bit of extra maintenance, and it will develop a patina over time, even with the best of care. If you’re looking for a rustic or contemporary design element for your home, a concrete fireplace surround might be a good choice for you.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are another superb option for your fireplace surround. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so you can go to town and make your fireplace a statement piece. Porcelain is heat-resistant, and it’s usually pretty easy to replace any damage that occurs through regular wear and tear. Another great thing about porcelain tile is that it comes in a lot of patterns that mimic other materials like natural stone and even wood.

Family and friends gather around the fireplace throughout the year, so it’s important that you enjoy the space and make it your own. If you are considering a renovation, contact our Denver office today.