Fireplace Surrounds

Written by Robert Mac
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Fireplace surrounds are the stone, wooden, or tile architecture that surround the opening of the fireplace. They may or may not include a shelf on the top; if they do, they are called mantel surrounds. While the real star of the show is the fire itself--if it's burning, that is--sometimes fireplace surrounds steal the limelight, especially when there is no mantel to decorate with family photos or other prized possessions.

Fireplace Surrounds Aren't the Same as Mantels

Technically, fireplace mantels aren't the same as fireplace surrounds, but unless you're a fireplace specialist, you probably won't notice. Just for the record, though: mantel used to refer to just the upper shelf, but now is used to describe the whole enchilada that surrounds the mouth of the fireplace. A surround is everything that isn't the mantel, but most people don't use this term.

While most traditional surrounds are brick or masonry, many electric fireplaces have beautiful wooden surrounds. One of the many advantages of an electric fireplace is that there isn't a flame, and the chances of a wooden surround catching on fire are zero. (Instead, an artificial flame created by refracted light is used--and looks just like the real thing.)

These wooden surrounds add an elegant touch to any room, and come in a variety of styles and finishes. And since they are electric fireplaces that aren't tied down to a chimney or exhaust duct, you can move them to any room with a standard electric outlet. Who would want to move a stone surround anyway?

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