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How to Build a Corner Fireplace for Under $300

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George likes to do his own maintenance on his vans and trucks. Occasionally, he makes stuff out of wood.

Build your own corner fireplace with this step-by-step tutorial.

Build your own corner fireplace with this step-by-step tutorial.

DIY Corner Fireplace

Looking for ideas to integrate a fireplace into a corner? In this case, we have two large windows, and while we prefer a traditional fireplace, a corner appeared to be our only option. Our goal would be to take the best features of a wall fireplace and incorporate them into a corner without disrupting the space in the room.

The planning was a year-long process in which we first searched for phased-out or seasonal item discounts from the year before. We came across a very ugly discounted electric fireplace and purchased it only for the insert. Please take this into consideration, as the cost may vary depending on the circumstance.

Without further ado, let's begin our project.

Tools Needed

  • Tape measure
  • Table saw
  • Screws
  • Air compressor and small compressor nails
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Mortar tools and bucket

Materials Needed

  • An electric fireplace insert ($80)
  • 2 x 3's (or whatever is cheapest)
  • 1-inch trim (lots)
  • Premium 6-inch trim (for the stained wood beam)
  • Brick backsplash ($60) with mortar ($40)
  • Hinges and magnets (if shelf is accessible, $20)
  • Paint and stain, brushes
  • Caulk
  • Surge protector
  • 8' x 4' quarter inch wood panel
  • Paver/cement-based panel
Planning a design for the fireplace

Planning a design for the fireplace

Step 1. Draw Pictures and Design It Multiple Times

First, we discussed and drew several pictures of what the fireplace would look like. We explored different pictures online and shared ideas until we landed on features we loved. We knew we needed brick to establish that traditional look. We also fell in love with the idea of having a separate stained shelf, which provided a more modern look.

After several trips to the hardware store, we learned that large pieces of wood molding materials are very expensive, so it made more sense to fill in enclosures with small pieces of wood trim to create a similar look. Fireplaces tend to have two very large sections on the left and the right and a boom seat, so we would have to model ours a bit differently since we're not flat on a wall.

Create a corner template of wood to begin the design process.

Create a corner template of wood to begin the design process.

Step 2. Try Several Inserts and Modify Until It Looks Right

From here, we tried multiple corner cuts and 2x3 assembly in the space to make sure it fit but also refine the look with the surrounding furniture. We placed a smaller skeletal structure in the corner multiple times until it looked right. We planned to incorporate the TV stand and technology into the fireplace. In addition, the opening above the seat would be wide enough for the fireplace insert.

Prepare for three levels—a seat, a shelf, and a topper

Prepare for three levels—a seat, a shelf, and a topper

Step 3. Join the Structure to the Wall Studs and Fill In

Now that the skeletal structure is built in the corner space, screw the frame into studs when they meet on the wall. Attach the 2x3s using screws only.

Begin to fill in the seat with wood paneling, making sure to attach the wood panels using air-compressed nails only (in order to hide them later on).

build-a-corner-fireplace-for-under-300

Step 4. Add the Insert and Plan the Close-Up

Place the fireplace insert into the opening, making sure it fits and can be plugged in for electricity. We never fastened it in, just placed it in tightly.

Make sure that the surge protector will be able to reach the shelf and is plugged in and ready to use, as it will be the only exposed electrical source once the wood paneling is placed on. Also, by doing this, you can avoid extensive electrical work.

Add the topper, making sure it's level, and add trim

Add the topper, making sure it's level, and add trim

build-a-corner-fireplace-for-under-300
build-a-corner-fireplace-for-under-300

Step 5. Fit the Topper With the Shelf for Electronics and Adjust Accordingly

2x4 scraps and corner cut 2x3s were used to hold up and enforce the space so the electronics could fit and move over. In this case, make sure everything fits before closing it up.

Before staining the topper, use magnets and unexposed hardware to hide the fact that the unit can be opened. We also left an opening below, so we could press on/off and get to things quickly if needed.

How the front board was attached

How the front board was attached

After staining, begin to use mortar and attach the brick backsplash material.

After staining, begin to use mortar and attach the brick backsplash material.

build-a-corner-fireplace-for-under-300
build-a-corner-fireplace-for-under-300

Step 6. Apply the Mortar in a Timely Manner

When applying the backsplash material, know that the mortar material will begin to dry over the course of a few hours. In this time, it's necessary to attach the bricks in alignment, space them accordingly and make sure they are visually lined up.

Don't wait too long to begin wiping them, or the mortar will dry, and it will be very difficult to remove it later. Each material is different in its texture and rate of solidifying, so continue to work with the material and get a sense of when it will dry.

Continue to wipe off the mortar until it looks right, then clean up.

Continue to wipe off the mortar until it looks right, then clean up.

Now that everything has been assembled, painting the fireplace will be the next step.

Now that everything has been assembled, painting the fireplace will be the next step.

Step 7. Paint the Fireplace

Once the grout/mortar is removed, painting can begin. The technique we use is caulking the corners where the trim meets the wood paneling, then run our finger across so it looks like the two pieces are one. This will fill in the gaps and resolve any imperfections in the cuts.

Once the caulk is applied, begin the paint and make sure extra care is taken. It seems with walls and/or other objects, it's not necessarily all that important that it be perfect. Unfortunately, with room centerpieces, it is essential that the painting looks perfect and that no mistakes occur. Keep that in mind before beginning if special brushes need to be purchased, but make sure things are covered with plastic and newspaper to be safe.

After painting, make sure it looks right, then touch up.

After painting, make sure it looks right, then touch up.

Almost done!

Almost done!

Step 8. Decorate

We went ahead and added some festive pictures and items to make the room center around the new fireplace.

We were very excited to begin running the heat and keep warm while watching a movie. At this point, any final adjustments you make will be scrubbing off extra mortar and/or sanding and painting parts that may need some cleanup.

Our new fireplace!

Our new fireplace!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.