How Fireplace Surrounds Should be Used

At SoCal Fireplace Mantels, we work with a variety of customers and help them create amazing focal point fireplaces. We understand that often, a client will visit us with a clear picture of how they would like their fireplace and its surround to appear. While our design staff are always pleased to assist a customer and create the fireplace of their dreams, it is important to remember that a fireplace surround is not just for beauty. They serve a critical role in maintaining safety and stop sparks and flames from igniting on your furniture, rugs, or draperies.

There are a few critical safety rules governing fireplace surrounds. These are not optional ideas, but mandates from the National Fire Code and all of our SoCal Fireplace Mantel’s installation experts adhere to the regulations.

• All materials deemed to be combustible must be six inches or more away from the opening of the firebox. This includes, but is not limited to mantels, wood trim, and framing.
• Mantels which extend beyond the face of the fireplace by 1 ½ inches or more must be a minimum of 12 inches away from the firebox top.
• The legs of a fireplace mantel that extend to the floor must be a minimum of six inches away from the fireplace box if they are combustible. This is providing they do not protrude more than 1 ½ inches.

Your local municipality may have more regulations for fireplace surrounds. If the edicts in question are different from the national codes, the local rules have precedence.

The materials of your surround make a difference when it comes to the stipulations of their size and the distance from the fireplace box. Masonry and metal become dangerously hot as do gas fireplace inserts. Consider designing with brick, stone, marble, or a colorful glazed tile; all of these materials make gorgeous additions to a fireplace.

Finally, at SoCal Fireplace Mantels, the majority of our clients enjoy elaborate seasonal decorations on their fireplace mantel and around the firebox. We agree that this looks great, but please maintain a safe distance from the fireplace box if you will burn wood or ignite a gas fireplace.

Back to Blog