I am looking to add some 1/2" strips of metal to a new fireplace surround (to be made out of MDF and red oak) as an accent. I thought that aluminium sheet would be good for this since it is easily workable for a DIYer and not cost prohibitive. The decorative trim will not be particularly close to the fire.

After reading about some different types online, I'm unsure what the best type is to order. Has anyone had experience in this? What would you recommend?

Update: I am looking to create something similar to http://www.chesneys.co.uk/products/fireplaces/designer-collection/eric-cohler-collection/ealing - replacing the marble with painted MDF. I was intending to get some aluminium sheet cut down into strips (may be spray-painted dark), which are to be used instead of the blackened steel seen in the photos.

Design inspiration

Update 2: See image below for the current situation. The fireplace is a prefabricated wood burning unit that was installed at time of construction (1983). The unpainted drywall shows the position of the original surround that was made of wood and was highly out of date w.r.t. style. The surround idea that I have will only go over the existing drywall, maintaining the current clearances with the firebox.

Current setup

  • As your asking about different types you found online, can you elaborate as to what ones your looking at? You also mention sheet vs flat bar, so it is your intention to cut strips? Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 19:12
  • Could you show us a picture of what your setup is?
    – Tkw
    Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 21:10
  • "easily workable" - not so much. If you attempt to cut strips out of a sheet it's going to be all mangled looking, unless you have access to an industrial shear (or a plasma cutter). Using hand-held aviation shears will probably put bends in it with every 'snip'.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 2:08
  • It's stone for a reason; you cannot fake this (please see my answers). Is this a masonry fireplace or a steel box? Depending on which, you'll need to comply with certain parts of the linked article. A picture of where you're at now, and what yours looks like would help a lot.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 2:30
  • @Mazura: Certainly not looking to cut strips from the sheet myself for that reason; I would have the supplier do this for me. I'm only going to mitre cut for the corners once everything else is in place. Alternatively your aluminium angle idea would be a better solution as it would have a smoother finish on the edges.
    – Simon P
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 5:40

2 Answers 2


Your local H.D./LOWEs carry various decorative sheets and bar stock aluminum, but it is better to head to your local metal supply house. They generally have the best price and most even will make cuts for free or a very low cost. And will have samples of material they stock as well as catalog of what can be ordered.

If a suppler asks you what alloy, stick with 1100, 3003, or 5052. This is the most common and cheaper alloys used for common fabrication and decorative use.

A supply house should be able to supply a brite finish or a matte. Sone can even offer one side enameled (sheets) or anodized.


1/2" by 1/2" by X (long) aluminum angle with an eased outside edge if you can find it, and countersunk by you or held in with adhesive.

If it's going to look exactly like that picture, you cannot use MDF there.

... combustible materials shall not be in contact with the masonry or concrete walls less than 12 inches (305 mm)from the inside surface of the nearest firebox lining. –What is a fireplace facing and what is it used for?

E.g., (even in this picture they're cutting corners)

enter image description here

"The decorative trim will not be particularly close to the fire." - don't care. The trim needs to be a certain distance away from the opening.

Keep combustibles (drywall, MDF, etc.) one foot from the opening in every direction. For applicable exceptions, see the linked question.

See also, How much clearance is needed on a gas fireplace?


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