Easy How to Build a DIY Fireplace with an Electric Insert

October 11, 2023

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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I have always loved the idea of a real fireplace in my bedroom. But how easy is it to add something like that? Not as hard as I thought! Turns out, it’s actually very easy! And the benefits! Oh, we love it. So cozy and warm. And with my easy DIY fireplace tutorial, you can make this dream a reality too!


A fireplace not only adds coziness to a room. It’s a great way to elevate a room and add a substantial focal point.

Need a fireplace in the living room, dining room? These step-by-step instructions will work in any room. So, let’s get to this easy DIY project….

How to Build an Easy DIY Fireplace

Materials Needed for Easy DIY Fireplace:

(Total Dimensions are: 61″ long; 22 5/8″ wide; 59″ tall) 

Well, first thing first, you need an electric insert 🙂 I highly recommend this built-in electric fireplace insert from Amazon.

All of my measurements will be based off of this fireplace insert, however, they can be adjusted to work for any insert.

I love that this faux fireplace displays different colors and features different heat settings. With the convenience of a remote control, this cozy fireplace looks and feels like an actual fireplace.

(Amazon Affiliate Links Included)

Tools Needed for Easy DIY Fireplace:

(Amazon Affiliate Links Included)

Building the Easy DIY Fireplace Base

Step One: Determine where you want your easy DIY fireplace

Obviously, right? But you’ll need to make sure there’s an outlet in this space, or you’ll just have something pretty to look at instead of a functional fireplace. So, yes, this first step is kind of important. 🙂

Step Two: Clear the space

Remove the full length of the baseboard, where you want your fireplace to be. Using a multi-purpose tool, cut both ends of the baseboard you’re going to remove. Then with an exact-o knife, cut the caulk between the baseboard and the wall.

Drive a screwdriver/crowbar behind the baseboard with a hammer and shimmy baseboard away from wall until removed.

If you don’t have a multi-purpose tool, you can skip this step. The baseboard will cause a little bit of a gap between your wall and the surround that you build, but you can just add another strip of wood to cover that up. Either way will work.

Step Three: Build the base

Cut one 2×4 to 58″ and place against back wall.

Cut two 2×4’s to 15.5″ and drill 1.5″ pocket holes on both ends. Attach these two 2×4’s to the end of the 58″ 2×4 using 2.5″ pocket hole screws. (As shown below) (You’ll notice, I had not yet removed my baseboard in this picture, however, as you’ll see, I later did)….

2x4 base to build a fireplace on top of

Cut a 2×4 to fit between your two 15.5″ 2×4’s. Drill 1.5″ pocket holes on both ends and attach using 2.5″ p.h screws. You will attach this board to the 15.5″ 2×4’s at 11″ from the wall. (Further clarification in the picture below)…

Base of fireplace pointed out to build a fireplace

Step Four: Build the fireplace risers

Essentially, this is like building with legos. Cut twelve 2×4’s at 7.5″ and drill 1.5″ p.h’s on one end. These 12 boards are your risers. You will attach them to the base using 2.5″ p.h. screws, following the placement of the picture below….

Risers on long 2x4's

Step Five: Attach the stretchers

Now you’re going to cut six 2×4’s to fit on top of the risers. They will span from a front riser to the riser behind it. Attach using 2.5″ wood screws. (Note: As you can see, two of my Risers are missing in this picture below.

When finished with this step, you should have 6 stretchers spanned across 12 risers). Placement shown below…

Stretchers on the base to build a fireplace

Step Six: Add easy DIY fireplace supports

Cut two 2×4’s at 58″ long and attach to stretchers, using 2.5″ wood screws. Placement shown below…

Supports pointed out on base of fireplace

Here’s a bird’s eye view of what it should look like so far….

base of fireplace surround diy built with 2x4's

Step Seven: Place the fireplace insert

Place the fireplace insert on top of the supports, centered. Ok! Now it’s getting real! Can you see this easy DIY fireplace project coming together? So exciting!!

Fireplace insert placed on top of build

So, what do you think so far? Simple steps?? The remaining two parts of this easy project is more of the same. So simple!

Master bedroom with fireplace and comfy chair

Building an Easy DIY Fireplace Surround

Step One: Build fireplace encasement around front of fireplace insert

The fireplace encasement will keep the electric insert fireplace sturdy and in place.

Front risers: Measure the height of your fireplace insert and cut four 2×4’s at this measurement. (I cut mine at 25 5/16″ long).

Drill 1.5″ p.h’s on one end and attach to front bottom support, using 2.5″ p.h. screws.(The placement is as shown below). Cut a 2×4 at 58″ long and span across 4 front risers. Attach with wood screws…

Risers pointed out for fireplace encasement

Make sure the two 2×4’s next to the fireplace insert, push up tightly against the insert. At this point, your electric fireplace should have little wiggle room…

2x4's built around electric fireplace

Step Two: Build fireplace encasement around back of fireplace insert

Back riser: Cut two more 2×4’s at the same length as the four in the picture above. And drill 1.5″ p.h.’s on one end. Attach to both ends of the back bottom support. As shown below…

2X4 risers pointed out

Cut another 2×4 at 58″ long and attach, spanning across back riser, using 2.5″ wood screws.

My fireplace was still a little wobbly, so I added another 2×4 to hold it in place (Completely optional)…

Extra 2x4 pointed out on fireplace encasement

Step Three: Build top of easy DIY fireplace surround

Risers: Cut six 14″ 2×4’s with 1.5″ p.h.’s on one end. Attach with 2.5″ p.h. screws, according to the placement shown below…

Fireplace encasement diy built around electric fireplace

Before we move onto the next step of building the top of the encasement, we need to secure the structure to the wall. Although the encasement is a very solid piece, it’s still wise to take this extra pre-cautionary measure.

Cut two 2×4’s at 7″ and drill 1.5″ p.h.’s on one end. Using a stud finder, find two studs on the fireplace wall above the encasement back riser. Then attach your 2×4’s in those two spots to the encasement back riser using 2.5″ p.h. screws.

Lastly, attach to the wall studs with 2.5″ wood screws. (See the picture below for more clarification) (Sorry for the blurriness. I forgot to take a picture of this step and had to take a screenshot of a video instead 🙁  )….

fireplace insert inside fireplace encasement diy

Stretchers: Cut two 2×4’s at 58″ long and attach to risers using 2.5″ wood screws…

2x4's built around electric easy diy fireplace insert

Side view…

Top of fireplace encasement diy built with 2x4's

Double check for level. If not, add some shims under your stretchers to bring it level.

(This is very easy: You can buy shims at the store or use thin scraps from your table saw. Simply place a shim on top of the riser that needs some height added to it, place your stretcher back in place, check for level. Repeat until it’s level)

Mine was level, and therefore, did not require shims. However, not all floors are level, so sometimes this step is necessary…

level on top of 2x4's to check if leveled

We have now finished building our own fireplace surround. And are ready to move onto the DIY mantel.

When it comes to a wooden mantel, you have different options to consider. You could go the easy route and have a mantel piece cut for you to fit the top of your fireplace surround. However, this can be a very expensive option.

The other option is this simple fireplace mantel design shown below…

Fireplace with black base and golden oak stained mantel

Building the Fireplace Hearth and Mantel

Step One: Build the hearth

Stretchers: Cut two 2×4’s at 58″ and place between these two 2×4’s from when we built the base. (See picture below for further clarification)…

Diagram listing where 2x4's need to be place and attached


Note: As you can see in the picture below, I used 2×6’s for my back stretcher. I had extra 2×6’s on hand and chose to use them instead of 2×4’s, but either will work.

Risers: Cut eight 2×4’s at 8 1/8″ and drill 1.5″ p.h.’s on one end. Attach to base using 2.5″ p.h. screws. See picture below for placement…

Risers for easy diy fireplace surround diy

Stretchers: Cut two 2×4’s at 58 1/16″. Attach to risers using 2.5″ wood screws…

Hearth and mantel of fireplace made out of 2x4's

Cut two 2×4’s at approximately 4″ (measure to fit in between the end of each stretcher). Drill 2.5″ p.h.’s on both ends and attach in between the stretchers on each end, using 2.5″ p.h. screws. This pulls the hearth together and makes it square.

See picture below for placement…

4" 2x4 for stretchers of hearth and mantel

Step Two: Build the mantel

Cut sixteen 2×4’s at 4″ and drill 1.5″ p.h.’s on one end. Attach five of them protruding off the front using 2.5″ p.h. screws. See picture below for placement…

Risers and extra 2x4's pointed out for hearth and mantel

Risers: Attach remaining (11) 2×4’s to the top of the surround, using 2.5″ p.h. screws. See picture below for placement…

2x4 for platform for 3/4" plywood to sit on top of

Step Three: Wrap the fireplace

Cut 3/4″ plywood to fit the front of the hearth. Attach using 2″ wood screws (Sorry about the blurriness of this picture; video screenshot, once again)…

Electric fireplace insert with hearth and mantel for easy diy fireplace

Cut and attach 3/4″ plywood to fit the sides, front and top of the hearth…

Placement of 3/4" plywood on fireplace surround diy

Now we’re ready to wrap the front of the surround, but first add a 4″ 2×4 onto each side of the insert, using 2″ wood screws. This provides a backing for you to screw into when attaching plywood to the front of the fireplace….

Backing for plywood to attach to

Cut 3/4″ plywood to fit both sides of fireplace insert. Attach using 2″ wood screws….

fireplace with hearth and mantel for easy diy fireplace

It’s a good idea to leave an opening for access to your outlet. Although you’ll leave it plugged in all the time, there may be an occasion where it needs to be unplugged or you need to service that outlet.

Not sure why you would need to do either, but just in case. I left a big enough opening at the side of the fireplace to cover it with an access panel….

Access panel cutout for fireplace surround diy

Now that the bottom is wrapped, move up to the top of the surround. Following the same steps–cutting plywood to fit…

3x4" plywood used to face fireplace hearth and mantel

And lastly, let’s wrap the mantel. I started with the top and ripped a sheet of plywood to fit as perfectly as possible…

Hearth and mantel of fireplace added onto 2x4's using 3/4" plywood

For the front and sides of the mantel, I used 1×6 pinewood. I chose this option, so as not to have to use edge banding to cover up the rough edges of the plywood. Cut the 1×6 front and sides to fit and attach using 2″ wood screws….

side view of fireplace w/ hearth and mantel

Step Four: Add the fireplace trim

Now that the entire fireplace surround is wrapped, we’re ready to add the trim. I used 1×2’s to wrap mine. Cut the trim to fit and attach with 2″ wood screws.

(Of course, you can add trim in whatever design you would like–but if you would like to follow my pattern, see the pictures below)…

Easy diy fireplace with trim added

And here’s a good side view…

trim added to fireplace surround diy

Step Five: Paint, Stain, Poly

The next thing you’ll want to do is use wood filler to fill in all of your nail holes. Once dry, use a 220-grit sanding block to smooth out the wood filler spots.

And now you’re ready to give it the finished look. It’s a good idea to stain first, then paint. I added two coats of polyurethane for protection from scratches, etc.

The stain I chose was Varathane Golden Oak. For paint I went with, Sherwin Williams Historic Charleston Green. This is a beautiful black-green paint color, that definitely lends itself to black….

fireplace hearth and mantel painted/stained

I absolutely love the warmth and coziness our new gorgeous DIY fireplace has added to our master bedroom. Eventually, I’ll be adding a Frame TV with a TV mount, but for now, isn’t she lovely?

Easy diy fireplace in a master bedroom with modern decor on the mantel

Want to see how I changed that bright red faux brick panel inside the fireplace to more of a limewash look? Here’s the post on how to limewash faux brick.

Fireplace with black base and golden oak stained mantel

Easy DIY Fireplace FAQ’s

Does adding a fireplace increase home value?

Yes. According to the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers, adding a fireplace to a home can increase the resale value by as much as 6-12 percent.

Which is cheaper to run? Gas or electric fireplace?

Although they don’t heat a room as fast as natural gas fireplaces, an electric fireplace is cheaper to run and install.

Master bedroom with a chair in the corner, beamed ceilings.

Is it safe to run an electric fireplace overnight?

The short answer is, Yes. But it is advised to turn it off when possible. While it’s not necessarily dangerous, it is important to still follow the safety precautions that come with your electric fireplace unit.

Master bedroom with beamed ceilings.

Do electric fireplaces give off heat?

Yes. The unit I shared in this post warms up our 13×14 master bedroom very quickly. Some electric fireplaces can be wired to 220/240 volts and have an even higher heat output. In short, not only does our new fireplace look amazing, it is also functional. Providing us with a nice, cozy, warm bedroom on cold winter nights.

Teddy can attest to the coziness of our new master bedroom fireplace. 🙂

Goldendoodle laying on a dog bed in front of a fireplace

I hope you found this easy DIY fireplace step-by-step tutorial to be helpful. As always, let me know if you have any questions. I love helping you turn these DIY posts into something tangible. You never know what you’re capable of until you try! You’ve got this!

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Master Bedroom Sources:

Loloi Rug

Large Pendant Light

Velvet Arm Chair

Landscape Print

Landscape Print Frame

Linen Curtains

Curtain Rod

Electric Fireplace Insert

Pampas Grass

Floor Lamp

Amazon Affiliate Links Included

More Favorite Projects:

Easy DIY Fireplace Mantel

How to Paint a Window Black-Fast and Easy

Easy How to Build a Mid Century Modern Accent Wall

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  1. Erica

    Can you build the surround and slide the fireplace in last?

    • Nicole Nigg

      Hi Erica,
      Yes, you most certainly could. Be sure to build the opening for the fireplace insert to fit. Once in place, if it seems loose, reinforce it with 2×4’s strategically placed to secure the fireplace insert.
      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.
      Thank you,

  2. Marina

    This looks great, I love the mantle and hearth!! Is this a one person job? About how long did it take you from start to finish? I have an electric fireplace I purchased and I think I’m going to use this plan to build the surround. Thank you!!

    • Nicole Nigg

      Hi Marina,
      Thank you! Yes, it is a one-person job. My husband is not into building projects at all, so I do all of my builds on my own. You may need help with lifting the insert, but other than that, this project is definitely a one-person job. It took me about 4-5 days to complete this. That includes all of the finish work too.
      Let me know if you have any questions along the way!
      Have fun building!


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