Fireplace Surround Behind

How To Remove A Fireplace Surround And Mantel

In Indoor Fireplaces, Wood Burning Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Removing the surround or mantel from an existing fireplace may be required during renovation works to the fireplace, to paint or treat it, to upgrade it to another surround or mantel, or to remove it all together.

Removing a fireplace surround or mantel typically isn’t too difficult, but either one of them without any issues can require an understanding of how and where they are attached to the wall.

To remove a fireplace surround and mantel:

  • Try to understand how the surround or mantel is attached to the wall, whether its with screws, nails, bolts or simply held in place.
  • For a single mantel by itself without a surround, look for screws either on top of the mantle or underneath, near to the wall.
  • For a fireplace surround, look for screws that are driven straight into the wall. The screws may be hidden behind plasterboard or pollyfilla to hide them from view, or can also be found on the inside or outside edges.
  • Removing any screws or nails will help a fireplace surround or mantel to come away from the wall more easily. You can use a rubber mallet or chisel to help pry a fireplace surround or mantel away from the wall if required.

I’ve explained how to remove a fireplace surround or mantel in more detail below.

How To Remove A Fireplace Surround

Many fireplaces have a surround to help make them more of a focal point for a room.

Some fireplaces have surrounds and mantels that are part of the structure of a fireplace, meaning that they can’t be removed without professional help or without incurring significant costs.

Structural surrounds and mantels will typically be an extension of the masonry material used within the house construction, or made from another type of masonry material.

The pictures below show what our living room fireplace looks like, and has an integrated hearth, surround and mantle made from concrete, which can’t be removed

For fireplaces with a masonry surround and mantle (like our living room fireplace), removing them isn’t so easy
Fireplace Mantel
Our living room fireplace has a concrete surround and mantel

On the other hand, our old kitchen fireplace didn’t have a structural fireplace surround, but a wooden one that held in place a cast iron back panel that accompanied a gas fireplace insert.

The picture below shows what our kitchen fireplace looked liked when we bought the house.

Our kitchen fireplace used to have a wooden surround

We renovated the kitchen a couple of years later and removed the fireplace surround and back panel, along with the fireplace insert.

To remove a fireplace surround, you’ll need to find what’s attaching it to the wall.

Fireplace surrounds are typically hollow structures (as shown below) and so can be attached to the wall with metal brackets located at the edges of the surround, or even screwed onto another piece of wood that’s already joined to the wall.

Fireplace Surround Behind
Fireplace surrounds are typically hollow, meaning that they can either be attached to the wall directly or attached to something located behind the surround like another piece of wood

In the case of our fireplace surround, it was attached to the wall with two metal brackets that stuck up from behind the surround.

There were two holes located in the wall above the fireplace where the metal brackets were situated. These metal brackets were screwed into the wall and covered by pollyfilla. Simply removing the pollyfilla from the wall gave us access to the brackets that were held against the wall with screws.

The fireplace surround was attached to the wall with screws at the locations shown in red

With the screws removed, the fireplace surround can be removed from the wall. You can use a screwdriver or chisel to help pry the surround away from the wall if it’s stuck in place.

If a fireplace surround won’t come away from the wall without brute force, then it may still be attached to the wall in another location.

You may find that removing a fireplace surround from a wall will leave a fireplace back panel still attached. In our case, we simply had to unscrew the back panel from the wall in the locations show below.

Fireplace Cast Iron Back Panel Screws
The back panel also had to be unscrewed at the shown locations to be removed

For more information about fireplace back panels, you can read one of our other articles here.

If there was any form of fireplace insert such as wood burning, gas or electric located in the fireplace along with the surround, it may need to be removed before the surround or back panel can be removed.

We removed our gas fireplace insert from the open fireplace after removing the surround and back panel. A gas-registered professional confirmed that the gas insert wasn’t connected to the mains gas, and so we could remove it without professional help.

If you can’t remove your fireplace surround without first removing a gas fireplace insert then be sure to get a professional to give their opinion.

Here’s what our fireplace looked liked with the surround and insert removed:

The fireplace once the surround, back panel and insert had been removed

How To Remove A Fireplace Mantel

Although fireplace surrounds will include a mantel as part of the structure, many open fireplaces can be found with simply a mantle located on its own above the fireplace.

In this case the mantle may not be an integrated part of the fireplace and so can be removed without affecting any other parts of the fireplace.

As with many other forms of mantle or shelf, a fireplace mantel can be commonly attached to the wall with screws or lag bolts. Bolts are screwed into the wall above the fireplace before a mantel is slotted straight onto it.

A fireplace mantle may also be screwed onto a piece of a wood that is already attached to the wall. In this case any screws or nails may be located on top or beneath the mantel.

Before you can remove a fireplace mantel from a wall you’ll need to figure out how has been attached to the wall.

Look out for any signs of screws or nails either on top of the mantel, underneath, on the sides or even on the front.

You can also try wiggling the mantel to see if it gives way in any direction, which may indicate where and how it has been attached to the wall.

A rubber mallet can also be used to help ease the mantel out of position if it’s stuck.

Look for signs of any glue or caulk where the mantle meets the wall. Glue or caulk can be a sign that the mantel has simply been attached to the wall with wooden pegs or lag bolts. You will need to remove any glue or caulk from around the mantle before it can be taken off the wall.

If you have any sort of screwdriver, chisel or even crowbar, you can use these tools to help pull away the mantel from the wall once the sealant has been removed.

Further Reading

A Complete Guide To Fireplace Surrounds

How A Fireplace Works

Parts Of A Fireplace Explained With Pictures And Diagrams

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