The fireplace facing or surround is the component that is applied around the fireplace before the mantelpiece is installed on top. The facing or surround has four parts; these are the header at the top of the fireplace, the riser at the bottom of the fireplace the legs on the sides of the fireplace, and the hearth on the floor immediately in front of the fireplace.
The riser is often left out of the typical fireplace facing or surrounds kits that are available in the marketplace today. These kits are sold by companies that also supply the mantelpiece, which is typically the shelf, mantel or cornice over the header and the side panels that frame the legs of the facing.
Brick was a common material utilized for the facing or surround of fireplaces in the past. Nowadays, brick has pretty much gone out of style, only to be replaced by marble, granite or slate as the most desirable materials.
Both stones quarried from the earth, granite and marble are very different from each other. Granite, formed deep in the earth’s core at extremely high temperatures, is a very hard, resistant stone made of crystallized minerals. Less hard and resistant, the marble family, including limestone, travertine, marble, onyx, begins as sediment of animal, vegetable and mineral matter under bodies of water and solidifies into stone after millions of years.
Current trends in interior design seem to demand the installation of marble or other stone surround or facing material. According to an industry source, the majority of new homes in the U.S. priced over $100,000 are currently sporting marble or slate surrounds.
The advantages of stone include their versatility in both traditional and contemporary design. Stone is also easy to maintain and available in a variety of colors and textures to complement virtually any interior design. Unlike cultured marble, natural stone is nonflammable, meets all building codes and is safer around a fireplace, particularly when utilized on a vent-free fireplace.
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