How to Remove a Wood Surround for a Fireplace & Replace It With Stone

Larry Simmons

Renovating a fireplace surround is a great way to alter the appearance of your fireplace to match a change in your decor.

Add stone to your fireplace by removing the wooden surround and replacing it with stone slabs.

Unlike changing the mantle, replacing the surround won’t alter the shape of your fireplace and it will create a subtle change that’s still visible enough to make a difference in the overall appearance of your fireplace. Replacing the wood surround with one made of stone adds a level of elegance as well when the stone is marble, or a level of rustic quality when the surround is a stone veneer.

  1. Place a strip of masking tape onto the wall’s surface where it meets the mantelpiece edge. Lay a drop cloth onto the floor at the base of the surround and mantel. Don a pair of safety goggles, a particle mask and work gloves to prevent injury.

  2. Push the tip of a prybar into the joint between one of the wooden surround legs and the fireplace, toward the top of the leg. Apply upward pressure to the rear of the leg as you push the bar in deeper to pry the leg from the surface of the surround. Move the prybar down the length of the leg as you go, increasing the gap between the wooden leg of the surround and the surface of the fireplace until the leg pops free.

  3. Repeat the removal process with the remaining surround leg and the header that was placed onto the fireplace surface on top of the legs.

  4. Scrape off the glue from the wood installation left on the fireplace, revealed by removing the surround, using a putty knife. Remove as much of the glue as possible with the knife, though some residue will remain.

  5. Remove the glue residue from the surface with a rotary sander. Sand the surface from the top downward, working in small circles until it’s clear completely of any signs of the adhesive.

  6. Wipe the surface clear or dust with a tack cloth. Use a pH-neutral cleanser to clean the surround area, scrubbing the surface with a scrub brush to clear away any dirt present. Rinse with clean water and dry off the surround area with a towel.

  7. Use a tape measure to measure the surround area. Due to differences in fireplace construction, you’ll need to order a custom-made surround to fit. Use the measurements you took to place your order with the stone material desired, and wait for its arrival.

  8. Attach the legs of the surround first, applying fire-resistant mortar to the rear of the stones with a notched trowel, raising notches with the edge, and then pressing the stone legs in place. Make any necessary placement adjustments to ensure that the legs are plumb, flush with the fireplace opening, and level with one another along the top.

  9. Spread the mortar on the rear of the top stone and then set it in place with the bottom edge of the stone butted against the top of the leg stones. Wait 10 days for the mortar to cure to hardness before using the fireplace again.