Information Centre


How to fit a Hearth and Back with a Fire Surround

This article refers to fitting a surround with an electric fire, if you are installing a gas fire, then you should contact a Gas Safe Registered Engineer, and they will ensure that your installation is safe. You can fit a wooden surround around an existing gas fire if you follow the gas fires manufacturer guidelines; however, if you fit a hearth and back set you should use a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.

Preparation

It is important before you start the installation of the fireplace, that you ensure there is an available electric socket nearby. The easiest way to do this is to run a single extension lead (which can be bought for Wickes, B&Q, etc.) into the chimney breast or wall cavity where the fire is to be fitted. This can be done either by running the lead under the floor, behind the skirting board or in the wall cavity. In doing this, the fire can easily be accessed at any time, and there is no need to remove the plug socket from the appliance (as this will invalidate your warranty anyway).

Please note, if you have ordered down lights, you will require a double socket extension lead, one for the fire and one for the down lights.

Once the wire is in place and plugged into a suitable wall socket, I would suggest that you test the new socket to ensure it is working. Simply plug in a hoover or something similar to ensure the electrical current is present.

You are now ready to move on to the most important section, bedding the hearth.

Laying the Hearth

First, you need to ensure that there are no obstructive skirting boards. It is important that the hearth is touching the wall and there are no gaps, so the skirting board needs to either be removed completely and refitted after the fireplace has been installed, or cut to accommodate the width of the hearth.

If you don't want to alter your skirting boards we can get the length of your hearth altered to fit the space you have. Remember when specifying a bespoke length of your hearth the measurement is the top and not the footprint which is slightly smaller.

The hearth needs laying on the floor. It must be on a solid surface. Laminate and floor boards are fine, but you must not lay the hearth on a carpet. If you have a carpet down either pull it back and refit later, or use the base of the hearth as a template to cut the carpet. If you do fit the hearth on a carpet, it will become unstable and may crack.

Ideally, the hearth should be secured to the floor. This can be done best with tile adhesive or cement. Spread the mixture of your choice along the bottom edges of the supports and risers underneath your hearth and lay it on the floor. 

Time for a spirit level! You must now ensure the hearth is flat and level both front to back and side to side. This is the most crucial part. If it is not level, then the whole job will go wrong!!! If you need to wedge the hearth to get it level then do it now. Be quick or the compound you have used will dry and the hearth will be fixed incorrectly.

Ok, you’ve now earned a cup of tea. Sit back and have 10 minutes while the hearth sets.

**Short Cut**

As hearths are very heavy it is possible to place it in position and then simply go around the bottom edges with a clear silicone sealer. This will only work if the floor is absolutely flat if it isn't then the other method should always be used as the hearth will crack.

Dry Fix The Mantel

Undress the mantel of its wrapping. Use scissors and only cut from behind as you don’t want to mark the face of the surround.

Using the supplied hanging kit, fix the right angled brackets to the back legs of the mantel using the supplied 15mm screws.

You now need to offer up the surround to the wall and locate where you are going to secure the long brackets to the wall 

Fix the brackets and now test the surround to see if your calculations have worked.

Lift the surround up and lower it onto the wall brackets. You need to ensure that both brackets have located and the mantel is secure. The brackets do not have to be level, they are only there to stop the mantel falling forward, this job is easier than hanging a mirror!

If this hasn’t worked, then try again until you succeed.

Now remove the mantel and put it to one side. You are nearly there!

Back Panel

This is a little tricky and varies with every job, depending on the depth of your electric fire, the depth in the wall cavity and the rebate of your surround. You must also ensure that if you have down lights, the wire is plugged in and the cable is fitted behind the back panel, otherwise, the wire will be seen after installation.

The idea is to secure the back plate central to the hearth against the wall. If you have a chimney breast and plenty of room to fit the depth of the fire in, then simply apply tile adhesive to the back of the panel and secure to the wall. Then put the surround back on its brackets to hold the mantel and let the panel set in place. Job done!!

If however, you have specified a deeper rebate on your mantel or the fire is too deep and will not fit into the chimney breast hole, then you need to set the back panel forward against the surround and leave a gap behind the marble panel to accommodate the fire. Most mantels come with a removable rebate which can be unscrewed from behind the inner legs. Removing these three strips will give you more room behind the mantel. From here, fit the mantel again and pull the back panel forward to touch the surround. The mantel will hold the surround, but there will be a gap behind the back panel which will require packing with either the rebate strips that you have removed or MDF, plasterboard, pine, etc. anything to keep the back panel sturdy. Use tile adhesive or no more nails to fix the back panel to the packing, and the packing to the wall.

Fitting the Fire

This is a simple plug and play. By this point, your mantel is hooked on the wall, your back panel is set and all that needs to be done is undressing the fire and placing in the hole of the back panel.

Plug in the fire and then lift into the hole. Do not drag the fire on the marble surface or you may scratch the hearth.

The fire may need dressing with frets and trims, but this is now the finished article.

Hopefully, these instructions will give you an idea of how to fit your surround, hearth and back panel. If you don't fancy doing it yourself then any builder, joiner or gas fitter will be able to do it for you, and although prices will vary, it should only take a professional an hour or so.

See our other help articles

How to use a fitting kit

How to measure a rebate

Wood Colour Guide

Buying Guide