How to Build a Raised Fireplace Hearth

November 8, 2023
nicole

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 two: An easy to follow, DIY tutorial on how to build a raised fireplace hearth.

****Please Note: This hearth is intended for an electric fireplace. Not recommended for a wood burning or gas fireplace. I am not a professional and recommend that you seek professional advice before building around a gas or wood burning fireplace. Be sure to check local building codes before starting a project around a gas or wood burning fireplace. 

A raised fireplace hearth adds a lot to a room: aesthetic appeal, a space where you can add more decor, or a bench seat for when you need more seating options.

Phase one of my fireplace makeover is finished (check out the faux-beam mantel here). We’re ready to move onto phase two…the raised fireplace hearth. Remember how dated my fireplace was….

fireplace makeover before pic

Yes, definitely in need of an update. And an update it received.

Here’s a more detailed video showing exactly how I built this DIY raised fireplace hearth…

“Creating your own fireplace hearth is a great way to add a personal touch to your home’s decor. Get creative and experiment with different materials and designs to make it truly unique.” – Nate Berkus

Fireplace with decor

Isn’t that amazing!? All with 3 simple phases! So let’s move into phase two….

Header Image

How to Build a Raised Electric Fireplace Hearth

****Please Note: This hearth is intended for an electric fireplace. Not recommended for a wood burning or gas fireplace. I am not a professional and recommend that you seek professional advice before building around a gas or wood burning fireplace. Be sure to check local building codes before starting a project around a gas or wood burning fireplace. 

Note: Here are the dimensions I used for my space…

  • Length: 80 1/4″
  • Width: 25 3/4″
  • Height: 9 3/4″

Materials Needed:

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Tools Needed:

Step One: Clear your space for your fireplace hearth

The first step is to get rid of any trim work along the floor in the space where you will be building your fireplace hearth. As you can see in the picture below, I had quarter-round trim outlining my fireplace.

Therefore, I first needed to remove this quarter round trim where the fireplace surround meets the floor tiles…

fireplace makeover

“A fireplace hearth is the heart of the home, and creating one with your own hands can be a rewarding and fulfilling project. With some DIY skills and a little bit of creativity, you can transform your living space into a cozy retreat.” – Joanna Gaines

This is a very simple step. Using a box cutter knife (also known as a utility knife), cut the top of the quarter-round (the part where it meets the fireplace). In doing this, you’re breaking the seal of caulk.

Then, take a flathead screwdriver and hammer it behind the quarter-round (between the wall and the quarter-round). Gently pull the quarter-round trim pieces away from the wall, until you have removed all of it….

Quarter round removed from bottom of fireplace

Step Two: Build support base outline

Next step….Once the quarter round has been removed, you’re ready to start building the support for your electric fireplace hearth. Measure the space where you want your hearth to sit.

And then begin cutting 2×4’s to outline that space. Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on both ends of your 2×4’s and attach your outline together with 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws.

Note: In the picture below, I had not yet drilled my pocket holes. It’s a good idea to do a dry layout first before you start attaching all of your boards together….

base of support for hearth

“A DIY fireplace hearth is a great way to bring warmth and character to your home. Whether you opt for a traditional look or something more modern, the key is to choose materials and finishes that complement your existing decor.” – Sarah Richardson

At this point, I could already see the raised hearth taking shape. Buh-Bye builder grade fireplace. Hello to a much more contemporary look–a beautiful, DIY raised hearth…

base of support outline

Step Three: Finish support base

Once you have finished outlining the space of your new fireplace hearth DIY, cut 2×4’s to fit perpendicular to your outlined boards. You’ll want to space them apart about every 8-10 inches….

support for hearth

“There’s nothing quite like a roaring fire in a beautifully designed hearth. A DIY project allows you to customize the look and feel of your fireplace, giving you a sense of pride every time you light a fire.” – Kelly Wearstler

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes into each end of your perpendicular 2×4’s and attach them to the outline boards, with 2 1/2″ pocket hole screws. The floor level of your DIY fireplace project, should now look like this…

pocket holes for hearth support

Step Four: Add support risers for your fireplace hearth

Now you’re ready to build up your electric fireplace hearth. Determine the height you want your raised hearth to be and cut your 2×4’s accordingly.

Note: Be sure to take into account the 2×4’s on the base and the 2×4’s you will be adding for the top. For example, my hearth is 10 3/4 inches tall. Therefore I cut all of my 2×4 risers to 7 inches.

Math: 1 1/2″ (2×4 base) + 7 inch (2×4 riser) + 1 1/2″ (2×4 top) + 3/4″ thick plywood sheet (for top of the hearth) = 10 inches. The plywood sheet is what we’ll use to face our entire DIY fireplace hearth. We’ll get to that step a little further down.

Place a 2×4 riser at the end of each 2×4 base. On your long base boards place a riser every 10-12 inches. Basically, you want to outline your base 2×4’s (as shown below)….

base to fireplace hearth

“A fireplace hearth is the perfect canvas for a DIY project. From tiling to painting to building a new mantel, the possibilities are endless. Get creative and let your imagination run wild!” – Candice Olson

Drill 1 1/2″ pocket holes on one end of each riser and then attach to base with 2.5″ pocket hole screws.

Step Five: Add support top

Last step for building the shell of the fireplace hearth…Time to put on the top layer of your support. To do this, think of it as a mirror to the base of your support. Wherever you have a 2×4 for the base, place one for the top.

Attach each of your 2×4’s using 2 1/2″ screws….

Shell of fireplace hearth

Step Six: Wrap with plywood

Can you see it coming together? Isn’t it exciting?! What a focal point it’s going to be! It’s time to wrap it up with the plywood. Literally! Cut your plywood sheets to fit onto each section of the support, using a nail gun (1 1/2″ nails) or Drill (1 1/2″ screws).

Starting with the sides first, as shown below….

2x4's jigged together with plywood facing

Then you’ll wrap the front of the fireplace hearth DIY…

hearth being built

And finally, you’re ready to cut the top piece to fit. Attach using 1 1/2″ screws or your nail gun with 1 1/2″ nails.

hearth with trim

This is where I got a little carried away and couldn’t wait any longer to catch a glimpse of just how much I was going to love this new addition….

fireplace makeover with decor

“When it comes to creating a DIY fireplace hearth, the key is to choose materials that are both practical and beautiful. Think about the overall style of your home and choose materials that will complement it.” – Emily Henderson

Step Seven: Add trim to your fireplace hearth

Cut trim pieces to fit. I used 1×2 pinewood for my trim. You can see below how I chose to trim out my new fireplace hearth. This is the design I went with, but of course, you can go with any design you like. Attach the trim pieces with a nail gun or drill…

fireplace hearth with trim

Step Eight: Finish work

Once you’ve added all of your trim, you’ll need to fill in all of the nail holes with wood filler. Caulk all of the edges. And you’re ready for paint.

That’s it! Step back and look at what you just built!! The transformation is amazing!!

As you can see in the picture below, I covered up our ceramic tiles to give our dated fireplace an even more updated look. I share exactly how I did this in this post.

family room with coffee table and farmhouse decor

“A fireplace hearth is the perfect place to add texture and interest to your home. A DIY project allows you to experiment with different materials and finishes to create a one-of-a-kind look.” – Sabrina Soto

Isn’t she lovely all decked out for Christmas too?

Christmas decor and tree

Update: My style has changed a bit since originally writing this post. With a more Organic Modern interior design style, our fireplace still fits in perfectly. It is truly a timeless addition to our living space….

A modern fireplace with a raised hearth

Changing up the look of the fireplace wooden mantel was a great move. Changing out the rustic mantel for a more modern color gave it a whole new look.

This easy DIY project could be added to any fireplace:

  • brick fireplace
  • natural stone fireplace
  • ceramic tile fireplace surround

My website features a couple DIY fireplace ideas. Be sure to check out this post for the DIY fireplace I added to my master bedroom. Oh so cozy!!

Master bedroom black fireplace with golden oak stained mantel

As always, if you have any questions, be sure to drop them in the comments below. I love helping you turn these projects into more than just an interesting article to read.

FAQ’S for a Fireplace Hearth DIY

What is a fireplace hearth?

A fireplace hearth is the floor area in front of a fireplace that extends out to protect your flooring from the heat of the fire. It can be made from a variety of materials, including brick, tile, or stone, and can be designed to complement the overall aesthetic of your home.

Can I build a fireplace hearth without a mantle?

Yes, you can build a fireplace hearth without a mantle. In fact, some people prefer the sleek and minimalist look of a hearth without a mantle.

However, a mantle can provide a functional shelf for displaying decorative items or holding a TV, so it’s important to consider your personal preferences and needs when designing your hearth.

How much money can I save by installing a fireplace hearth myself?

The cost of installing a fireplace hearth can vary widely depending on the materials you choose, the size of your hearth, and the complexity of the installation.

However, by doing the installation yourself, you can save on labor costs and potentially save money on materials as well. On average, homeowners who install a fireplace hearth themselves can save anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

“A DIY fireplace hearth can be a fun and rewarding project, but it’s important to do your research before you begin. Make sure you have the right tools and materials, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.” – Taniya Nayak

A white fireplace with a raised hearth

How high should a hearth be off the floor?

The height of a fireplace hearth off the floor can vary depending on the design of the fireplace and your personal preferences. However, a common guideline is that the hearth should be at least 4-6 inches off the floor to provide adequate protection for the surrounding flooring.

Additionally, the height of the hearth should be considered in relation to the height of the firebox and the overall proportions of the fireplace. It’s important to consult with a professional or reference building codes to ensure that your hearth meets safety and structural requirements.

Can I build a fireplace hearth for an electric fireplace?

Yes, you can build a fireplace hearth for an electric fireplace. Since electric fireplaces do not produce actual flames or heat like a traditional wood-burning or gas fireplace, the hearth can be purely decorative or designed to hold the electric fireplace unit.

The hearth can be made from a variety of materials such as wood, stone, or tile, and can be designed to complement the style of your home.

What materials can you use to cover a fireplace hearth?

There are many materials you can use to cover a fireplace hearth, depending on your style and preference. Here are some popular options:

  • Tile: Tile is a durable and heat-resistant option for a hearth. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, making it easy to find one that complements your decor.
  • Stone: Natural stone, like slate, granite, or marble, can create a rustic or elegant look, depending on the finish. Stone is also heat-resistant and durable.
  • Brick: Brick adds a traditional and charming feel to a hearth. You can choose from a range of colors and textures to achieve the desired look.
  • Wood: A wooden hearth can add warmth and texture to a room. You can use a natural wood slab or create a wood veneer to cover an existing hearth.
  • Metal: Metal, like copper or steel, can create a modern or industrial look. It’s also heat-resistant and durable.

Remember to choose a material that is appropriate for your fireplace and meets safety requirements. Some materials may require additional insulation or fireproofing. It’s best to consult with a professional before installing a new hearth cover.

What’s trending in fireplaces right now?

Think simple and monochromatic. A fireplace without intricate design patterns is more on trend for today. Painting your fireplace to match your wall color will give it a seamless and more modern, up-to-date look.

This is something I have planned for my fireplace in the not too distant future. I’m planning on painting all of it black. I want it to blend in harmoniously with the black backdrop wall of the fireplace.

What color should I paint my fireplace?

The most common color to paint a fireplace is white. White is a calming color that will make your fireplace appear more grand. Being that it’s a neutral color, it will fit in well with any color furniture, bold artwork, or wallpaper pattern.

How far out should my fireplace hearth extend?

According to Direct Fireplaces, “If your fireplace opening is less than 6 square feet, your hearth should extend 16 inches in front of your fireplace and 8 inches to the sides. For fireplaces openings that are larger than 6 square feet, your hearth needs to extend 20 inches to the front and 12 inches to the sides.”

What can I do to a corner next to a fireplace?

Adding floating shelves in the corner next to your fireplace will really elevate the space. It’s a great way to add texture and color. Need more storage? Floating shelves are great for that too.Here’s a great tutorial on how to get this look.

Another idea, is to add a sitting area. Place a chair or two, depending on space, in the corner for a cozy sitting area.

If space is limited, simply add a tall plant. A Ficus Tree or Fiddle Leaf Fig are both excellent choices. Of course, you can opt for a faux one that looks real. Or try your hand at a real one.

I used to kill every plant I touched. But I’ve found that a Fiddle Leaf Fig doesn’t require a lot of attention. Just a little drink every couple weeks and it’s good.

“DIY projects are a great way to add character and charm to your home, and a fireplace hearth is no exception. With a little bit of creativity and some elbow grease, you can transform your fireplace into a stunning centerpiece.” – Vern Yip

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

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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