How to Build a Fireplace Surround Covering Tile

May 9, 2019

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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Fireplace makeover-Phase three: An easy to follow, DIY tutorial on how to build a fireplace surround.

I saved the best for last. My favorite part of the Fireplace Makeover was covering up that dated, ugly tile. I purposely saved this step as a grand finale to myself! After all, that tile is the primary reason I have wanted (since we moved into this house 12 years ago) to update our fireplace. I have never liked it and I’m happy to say, it is GONE! Well, it’s still there, but you can’t see it anymore. :) Not all of it anyway. So, how did I do it? By building a fireplace surround….Let’s get to the details….

But first, as I’ve done with all of the posts in this series (Phase 1; Phase 2), a quick


fireplace makeover before pic

and AFTER….

fireplace decorated for spring

How to Build a Fireplace Surround Covering Tile

Materials Needed:

MDF Board (amount needed is dependent upon project)


Gorilla Construction Adhesive    (Affiliate Link)


Primer      (Affiliate Link)


Tools Needed:

Table saw

Miter saw

Step One: Outline where MDF will go

Draw on your tile the outline of where you want your MDF to go, using a sharpie. I chose to expose some of my tile and not cover up all of it.

Step Two: Cut MDF to fit

Using your table saw, cut MDF to fit in space outlined in step one.

Step Three: Attach MDF

Attach MDF with Gorilla Construction Adhesive. Just as a side note, I did my homework on this glue and learned that it is one of, if not the strongest, adhesive available on the market. It worked very well. I do highly recommend it.  (Affiliate Link)

MDF board with adhesive

Attach all pieces with your adhesive…

MDF added to tile on fireplace

Step Four: Outline trim design 

Determine the design you want your fireplace to have. I found it easiest to draw out this design on my MDF boards…

MDF added to tile on fireplace

Then I was able to cut the right size needed for all of my trim work….

MDF added to tile on fireplace

This is the pattern I mapped out….

MDF added to tile on fireplace

Step Five: Caulk, Caulk, Caulk

Caulk all of those seams!!

MDF added to tile on fireplace

Step Six: Prime MDF

MDF is very absorbent, so it is helpful and ensures less work (who doesn’t like that?) if you prime before you paint. This is the primer I like to use

primer used for fireplace

As you can see, I also primed my tile that I kept exposed….

fireplace painted white with primer

Step Seven: Paint

Next, I painted my exposed tile gray (Sherwin Williams Peppercorn)…

fireplace painted with primer and gray paint

Then I painted all of my MDF with Sherwin Williams Extra White.

fireplace painted white and gray

I wasn’t real wild about the faux wood handles on my fireplace doors, so I painted those too….

Can I just say, I am loving the new look of our fireplace!! And it only took 3 simple phases to get the fireplace I have been dreaming of. So worth it!! And the best part–I did it!! Think of all the money I saved. And the satisfaction of knowing that I built that–so rewarding!

family room

Don’t forget to PIN THIS tutorial to your Pinterest boards…

before and after of a fireplace makeover

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Fireplace Makeover Series:

Fireplace Makeover from Contemporary to Modern Farmhouse

How to Build a Faux Wood Beam Mantel

How to Build a Raised Fireplace Hearth




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  1. JA

    Is this safe to get so hot from the fireplace?

    • Nicole Nigg

      I recommend, to keep it to fire code, only use these plans with an electric fireplace. An idea would be to cover with brick, stone, or tile.

  2. Jennifer

    What is the thickness/size of the boards you used?

    • Nicole Nigg

      Hi Jennifer,
      I used 1x’s for all of my trim work on this project. Let me know if you have any other questions.


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