How to Build a Faux Fireplace

Hello, Fiddle Leaf friends! I’m beyond excited to share this DIY faux fireplace build with y’all today! If you follow me over on Instagram, I’ve been teasing this for awhile, and I polled ya’ll on what color to paint this beauty. So I’m excited to finally share that I chose BLACK (a chippy vintage black of course)! More of you chose black in my poll, too!

This project is a complete copy cat of my dear friend Toni’s faux fireplace that her hubby built for her. They painted theirs a gorgeous chippy white, so I’m happy to share the black contrast with y’all today. Scroll to the end of this post to see a photo of Toni’s – its beautiful!

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faux fireplace build

What You’ll Need:

How To:

Step 1: Assemble your frame with your cut to size (I used a miter saw) 2″x4″ boards, wood glue, and your power nailer/brad nails. Make sure to use your speed square as you assemble to ensure all of your pieces are square as you attach them together. Once loosely assembled with nails, use wood screws to secure all of the joints (you can use clamps to help you if it’s easier). The screws will ensure your faux fireplace is super stable!

faux fireplace cut list
Your entire frame will be made of 2″x4″ boards

Step 2: Cut your cedar fence pickets to size and attach those to the face of the faux fireplace with your nailer and brad nails. I suggest attaching the side pieces first, and then measuring and cutting your center pieces to ensure the best and most snug fit. Sometimes the measurements will be slightly more or less depending on the flaws in your wood. I then used a wood screw at the corners of each of the pickets for extra security.

NOTE: I did not sand any of my wood pieces or fill in any of the screw or nail holes – I wanted the mantle to feel old and rustic, while still feeling elegant in design. If you want a super sleek look, I recommend sanding all of your wood pieces well prior to building/filling in all the holes with wood fill.

faux fireplace cut list
The face of your fireplace will be made of cedar fence pickets

Step 3: Cut and attach your top pieces with wood screws, I first used two 1″x5″ pieces cut to 36.5″ stacked on top of each other, and topped that with a 1″x8″ cut to 38″. You could certainly use a 2″ thick piece of wood for either topper, I just didn’t have those available and didn’t want to go to the store unnecessarily. #quarantineproblems

faux fireplace top
I used two 1″x5″ boards followed by a 1″x8″ board for the top

Step 4: Cut and add (with wood glue and brad nails) your 1″x3″ trim to the bottom of the feet, and to the top and bottom of the front horizontal face. Don’t forget to miter your corners! Mitered corners make the faux fireplace look more elegant and finished.

faux fireplace trim
I added mitered trim at the base of the feet and at the top and bottom of the horizontal face

Step 5: If you wish, you can add decorative trim (I had some left over from my Board & Batten project and decided to add it here). I used my brad nailer to attach it. Lastly, I added a decorative wood medallion from Lowe’s to the face with wood glue and brad nails.

faux fireplace trim
I added some decorative trim and a wood medallion as the finishing touches

Step 6: Time for paint! I first primed with two layers of my favorite primer – Zinsser 1-2-3- Bullseye water based primer.

faux fireplace

Step 7: I then mixed some plaster of paris (Toni’s hubby’s method) until it was a pudding-like consistency. I slapped that on in no way in particular to add some extra texture to the piece.

Step 8: Once dry, I added some leftover paint I had lying around just for some extra thickness. This is unnecessary if you want a more sleek, non-chippy look (I’d also skip the plaster of paris if that’s the case for you). For me, this extra base layer of paint meant that ultimately, my paint would chip off in thicker pieces and add more dimension to the piece.

painted faux fireplace

Step 9: I used two coats of Fusion Mineral Paint in Coal Black to finish off the painting steps. To the final coat, I added just about a tablespoon of plaster of paris to my paint to make it a little more chalky and matte.

Step 10: Once dry, I used a sturdy metal putty knife to chip away at random areas of paint until I got an old, rustic kind of look. The plaster of paris I added in Step 7 made the paint easier to chip off as well.

chippy paint

Step 11: Because the paint chipped all the way down to the white primer, there was a super stark contrast between the black and white. I wanted to dinge up the black and the white, so I did two things.

First, I spread LITERAL wet dirt from my garden onto the entire faux fireplace. I let it sit for about 30 minutes and then wiped it off. It’s a subtle effect, but some of that dirt gets stuck in the grooves, and adds a real lived-in and used feel. If you’re grossed out by this – totally fair. You can skip that part! I figure we unknowingly track dirt into our home all the time so what’s a little more stuck to my faux fireplace? 😛 (No, we aren’t of the “remove your shoes when you enter” persuasion – I hope you’ll still love me!)

Next, I used Minwax wood stain in English Chestnut and brushed it onto where the primer was exposed. This changed the stark white to a light brown, which bledned much better with the black paint.

Step 12: Once fully dry, bring your faux fireplace to the place you want to install it. I decided to remove the baseboards where mine is installed so that it would sit flush with the wall. I used my Ryobi All in One tool to cut the baseboards and remove them. This is optional of course and will depend on your specific situation, so I haven’t gone into detail on this here.

Step 13: Using your stud finder, locate the studs in the wall behind where you want to install your faux fireplace. Toe-screw at least one, preferably two, 4″ screws into your faux fireplace and then into the stud in order to secure it to the wall. This website has a great diagram to show you what a toe-screw is. It’s basically just screwing in a long screw at a diagonal through two surfaces (here – your faux fireplace and the wall/stud). We were able to do this on the underside of the horizontal fireplace face, so I didn’t bother trying to plug the hole – I want to have easy access if we ever decide to remove it anyway.

Step 14: Style her up! I installed a french cleat for a TV that we will hang when guests come to visit, but otherwise, the TV lives in storage and I just cover up that french cleat with art so the space is prettier!

how to build a faux fireplace with chippy paint

I can’t wait to style her for Christmas and all the seasons! The possibilities are really endless! And you know I’ll be back in the future with a few more mantel styling ideas and tips for you! 🙂

faux fireplace
Here you can see how this will look when we have guests, with the TV installed above it. I added the beadboard on the inside of the faux fireplace to cover the outlet and TV cord plugs.
And here is Toni’s gorgeous mantel! I love the chippy white!

And that’s it, y’all! This faux fireplace added instant character to our guest room. I’m loving the old cottage/victorian vibes, too! Overall, this is a quick build, especially if you know your way around a miter saw! But even if you don’t, I think this faux fireplace is a great project for beginners to learn, too!

Let me know what you think in the comments below! And remember to head to Toni’s Instagram page to see loads more photos of hers (plus, her home is just STUNNING)!

Until next time, friends!

XO,

Ana

how to build a faux fireplace
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