Modern DIY Electric Fireplace and Shiplap TV Wall
If you have been following me on Instagram you know I have been working on a family room/dining room makeover at my mom’s house. One of the items on her wish list was a fireplace. Lucky for her I was up to the challenge with this easy DIY project. I added an electric insert to my wood burning fireplace a few years ago and knew this would not only be a great focal point on an otherwise boring wall, but it would also add a heat source to this living room. And I am sharing all the details with you on how I built this Modern DIY Electric Fireplace and Shiplap TV Wall!
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Adding a Built-in Electric Fireplace
Adding a built in fireplace not only adds value to your home, but it can also make a room more cozy and create visual interest on a blank wall. This was the perfect solution to the blank space in my mom’s long family room. The best part is the total cost was less than $800! Can you believe that?
Before we dive into the step-by-step tutorial, let’s take a look at what this blank wall started out as, shall we? As you can see, it definitely needed some work.
Modern DIY Shiplap Electric Fireplace Materials
15 – 2x4s
2 – 1x6x8 MDF Boards
10 – Small Shiplap Boards
3 – Large Shiplap Boards
Electric fireplace insert
Drill & Driver
Gorilla Construction Adhesive
* Note this tutorial is for a new electric fireplace wall with a TV that is built in. Many electric fireplace inserts have surface mounting options that can be hung on the wall. There are also models that can be used in existing fireboxes like the fireplace in my family room.
To see the video of the entire process and all the behind the scenes on this project, check out my Instagram fireplace highlight 😉
Step 1 – Find the studs in your wall
The first step you should take is finding the studs in your wall that you are adding the fireplace to. This is important because the framing will need to be anchored to the studs and will have an impact on the overall size. I shifted the fireplace slightly from where I originally wanted to add it because of the position of the wall studs. I used my stud finder and marked them out with painters tape.
If your wall studs don’t work out for the placement you would like, you might be able to anchor it to the ceiling and floor joists instead.
Step 2 – Determine fireplace dimensions and finishing materials
Next step is determining the depth of the side walls. My mom’s family room is not very wide. It is just under 12 feet so I didn’t want the fireplace to take up a ton of floor space since there wasn’t much to work with. Also, I wanted to make sure there was a good balance between the size of the TV and the insert. She has a 55 inch TV (because the room is rather narrow) so I felt like the 42 inch insert was a good fit. Based on the insert I chose, I could make the depth of the fireplace 5.25 inches. You will need to consult the installation guide of the insert to determine this.
Determine the overall width of the front of the fireplace wall. Before deciding on how wide to make the fireplace, I chose my finishing material. This is very important if you plan to do vertical shiplap. You do not want to end up with awkwardly sized pieces or slivers at the ends. I calculated the width based on using full size pieces of large and small shiplap. The width of this fireplace is 64.25 inches.
Determine the height of the fireplace wall. In my opinion, this should be the ceiling height of your room if you want a modern, custom, built in look. But you could also build a shorter version with a fireplace mantle if you are looking for a more traditional option. The height of this fireplace is 92.5 inches.
* Note, if your design ideas include a different fireplace dimension you may need more or less materials than listed above.
Step 3 – Framing the electric fireplace surround side walls
Note, I did all my framing with screws, a drill, and driver. This can definitely be done with a framing nailer but I prefer to build with screws because it is easier to take a part if you make a mistake. I am also not as good at using my pneumatic framing gun yet. However, it is definitely cheaper to use a framing nailer if you already have one.
The framing of the fireplace surround is made from 2x4s. Essentially, I created a series of of three boxes or rectangles . One for each side wall and one for the front wall. Depending on the electric insert you choose, you may also need to build a full back wall for support. This was not necessary with the insert I used.
I started off by making the side frames. Because I wanted the fireplace to be as narrow as possible, this was a little bit tricky. The total depth of this wall is only 5.25 inches deep so my drill would not fit between the 2x4s. So I attached small blocks of wood cut to 2.25 inches long to the first 2×4 that runs the height of the ceiling.
You will need to attach these together before you attach the long 2×4 to the wall. I used these construction screws and pre-drilled all my holes. Once the blocks are attached, screw the long 2×4 into the wall. Remember this should be attached to the stud.
NOTE, if the overall depth of your fireplace will be large enough to fit a driver in, or if you have one of these, or use a framing nailer, you can build the entire side wall on the ground and tilt it into place. Just leave about 1/4 inch for clearance so you can actually tilt it upright and clear the ceiling.
Once the first two parts of the side wall are secured to the stud, add the final 2×4 which should be cut to the height of your ceiling minus a 1/4 inch so it will fit.
Repeat for the second side of the fireplace surround. Note, this should also line up with a wall stud.
Step 4 – Adding back supports to the framing
While the insert I chose did not require a back frame or wall per say, it does secure to the wall on the back. Not to mention, I felt like a little extra support between the side walls was a good idea. I simply cut down a 2×4 to fit between the left and right side walls and screwed it into the studs I had marked on the back side wall.
Step 5 – Framing the electric fireplace surround front wall
The front frame will have multiple components but the first thing is to build a box. I used my corner clamps for this part because it makes the process a lot easier. The size of the box should fit snuggly between the side walls. The box I built is 57.25 x 92.25 (for a total fireplace size of 64.25 x 92.5).
You will also need to decide how far off the ground you want your own fireplace insert to be. This is a personal preference. My mom didn’t really want a mantel on her fireplace so that was considered here. I built the frame for the insert 15 inches from the bottom of the entire frame. This can be higher or lower based on your preferences.
DO NOT frame the opening for the insert until you have the insert in your possession. You will want to make sure you can dry fit it before building the whole wall.
This is also when you will want to decide on the placement of the TV if you will have one. I have seen quite a few fireplaces that recess the entire TV into the framing which looks great! BUT you better plan to have the same TV for a long time because you never know if the next one will fit in the same hole. Not to mention if you ever sell the house to someone else. For this reason, I decided recessing the mount was a better option here.
This is also the time to choose your finishing materials and decide which direction they will run. I chose a shiplap fireplace run vertically for a more modern look. But you could also run the shiplap horizontally or drywall the DIY fireplace surround if you want. The direction of the materials will determine how much additional blocking or studs you will need in your frame. You just want to make sure each piece of material will be supported from behind and have somewhere to attach to.
Since I chose to go vertical with the shiplap, I needed more horizontal supports for the shiplap to attach to.
Step 6 – Attaching the front frame to the sides
Once the full front frame is built, it can be tilted into place and screwed into the side walls. When attaching the front wall to the sides, you want the edges of the 2x4s to line up as flush as possible. I used the same wood screws from above, using 6 per side.
Pro tip: If you have any bowing, use clamps and a scrap piece of wood to pull the wood together and get nice flat edges. This will prevent issues later when installing the shiplap or other finishing materials. You can see detailed behind the scenes video in my Instagram fireplace highlight.
Step 7 – Electrical
As the name suggests, an electric fireplace insert will require an electrical outlet. Based on the placement of this fireplace, a new electrical outlet needed to be added. Barry added two outlets to the framing, one for the fireplace and one for the TV.
Since the flooring also got replaced in this makeover, he drilled through the floor and ran it up from the unfinished basement. I will not give advice on running electrical as it can be very dangerous. If you are not experienced at this, you should hire a professional electrician. But you could get lucky and already have an outlet behind where you are adding your fireplace.
Step 8 – Installing the electric fireplace insert
Once the front wall is secured in place you can add the insert. The insert I used has a glass front cover that comes off for installation. You simply slide the insert into the frame you made and attach with the mounting screws. For this particular insert, it mounts through the back which screws into the back support I added.
Once it’s secured you can plug it in and add the decorative rocks. Then re-attach the front cover again. To see video of the installation process, check out my Instagram fireplace highlight.
Step 9 – Adding a TV mount
As I mentioned above, I chose to recess the TV mount between the framing of the fireplace as I had a stud in the center of the wall. Since this portion of the framing and wall would not ultimately be covered by shiplap, I painted the wall behind the TV mount as well as the framing around it and the electrical outlet. I also chose a recessed plug.
If you plan to surface mount your TV to the shiplap, you just need to make sure your mount will line up with a stud. Just note, the side of the TV will hang off the wall farther with surface mounting.
Step 10 – Painting the shiplap
I chose to paint my shiplap prior to installing because I was using black and I knew it would be difficult to paint the gaps once the shiplap was on the wall. This is definitely not necessary, but it’s the easy way in my opinion. I painted all the pieces of shiplap and my side pieces on folding tables in the garage. I did two coats of Sherwin Williams Iron Ore using a foam roller and a brush for the edges.
If you choose a light paint color or white, pre-painting may not be necessary. I did not pre-paint my white shiplap in the bunk room nor did I need a second coat.
Step 11 – Installing the shiplap on the fireplace
I used two different sizes of shiplap for this build to make sure I had almost full pieces on the ends of the fireplace. I used three pieces of larger pine shiplap and ten pieces of smaller MDF shiplap. My preference is to use MDF because it is straight. With real wood you have to deal with bowing and warping which makes install more difficult. But my local Home Depot didn’t have the sizes I needed in all MDF so I had to use some real wood. Just make sure it is primed and it has the same thickness when mixing the two materials.
If you are installing the shiplap vertically like I did, you will want to start in the middle so the end pieces end up the same. Ideally you should use a laser level for this. I forgot mine, so I simply lined up the center of the fireplace wall with the center of my first piece of shiplap using my center scale tape measure. If you don’t have one of these, let me tell you, it is a game changer!
I started in the middle and worked left to right with the tongue on the right side. I attached the shiplap using my brad nailer and 2 inch nails. My goal was to fill as few nail holes as possible so these pieces were nailed on the tongue which would be covered by the next piece of shiplap.
DO NOT nail into the left side of the shiplap! If you do you will not be able to slide the piece to the left underneath it. All the pieces in the middle and to the right of the middle should be nailed on the tongue only. All the pieces to the left of the middle will have to slide under the piece to the right and be nailed on the face on the right side. Once all the shiplap is installed you can add nails to the face where needed to keep pieces flush. Just remember, you have to fill all of them so don’t go crazy.
I installed all the front pieces of shiplap except for the end pieces first. Then I ripped down the two end pieces of MDF for the side walls and installed those. Note, my side wall pieces are not shiplap. The narrower pieces of shiplap I used were not wide enough and I found some 1×6 MDF boards that were a good fit and less expensive that the larger pieces of shiplap I used.
Once the end pieces were installed, I came back and added the last two front facing pieces of shiplap. I did this because I knew these would need to be ripped down and I wanted them to cover the ends of the side pieces of MDF since these are a butt joint and not mitered. I did not want to use any trim pieces or corner beads here out of preference.
To cut around the fireplace insert I used my jigsaw.
To rip cut the end pieces I used my table saw. I only needed to cut off about a quarter of an inch on the ends which would be challenging with a circular saw.
For all my straight cuts I used my miter saw.
To see the video of the installation process, check out my Instagram fireplace highlight.
Step 12 – Filling nail holes
Now that all the shiplap is attached, you will need to fill in all the nail holes. This is why I try to conceal as many of the holes on the tongue as possible. I like to use this nail hole filler the best. It dries quick and is paintable. I usually just use my finger to apply it. Then I wait about 15 minutes and come back with a wet rag and wipe off the excess. I try to avoid sanding when using MDF since it isn’t real wood.
Once the nail hole filler is fully dry, come back and touch up the paint. I like to use a foam brush for this to avoid any brush strokes.
Step 13 – Adding trim pieces
As I mentioned before, this fireplace is part of a full room makeover in which my mom got all new flooring. I built the fireplace framing first and then we laid the flooring. My hope was the shiplap would cover the gap between the flooring and the fireplace but it didn’t work out quite as planned. Luckily I didn’t throw away my scraps and I had a small piece of MDF I could use as trim around the base of the fireplace.
I cut the MDF down to length and mitered my corners. I then glued the pieces together and let it dry overnight.
The next day I added the trim to the bottom of the fireplace. I used Gorilla construction adhesive because I was afraid my nail gun would break the tiny piece of trim. I used painters tape (you could use masking tape too) to hold it on the fireplace and pushed some heavy paint cans against it to keep it in place for 24 hours until it set.
Once the glue was dry, I came back and caulked it in. I skipped over the nickel gap when caulking to keep it from looking strange. I also caulked in the sides between the wall and the MDF for a nice clean edge.
Once the caulk was dry I came back and touched up the paint with a foam brush.
Why such a small piece of trim? I honestly didn’t want any trim at all but I had no choice here. This was small enough that I felt like it didn’t affect the overall design too much. You could also use quarter round but I already had this on hand.
Step 14 – Hanging the TV above the fireplace
Before adding the shiplap the TV mount was installed inside the framing to the wall stud. I did this because I did not want the TV to hang too far off the front of the fireplace. This is the TV mount I used. It tilts and has an arm that swings out. It has a simple bracket that attaches to the back of the TV that hooks on to the mount itself.
An additional item to note is this is a smart TV and used for streaming only and does not require a cable box. If your TV requires a cable line and box, you will need to address the location of that prior to building. While this is not a Samsung Frame TV, I can add digital art to the screen.
Step 15 – Enjoy!
The final step is to sit back and binge your favorite TV show, because you earned it! This electric fireplace was a great addition to my mom’s family room and the best thing is she absolutely loves it! It might just be her favorite DIY of mine 🙂 I may or may not be scheming of somewhere in my house I can add another fireplace!
Gas, Electric, Wood – What type of fireplace should you choose?
Let’s break it down shall we?
Wood Burning Fireplace – Unless you have an older home, you will not likely be adding a wood burning fireplace as these are no longer allowed in most municipalities when building a new house. They are only allowed if the home is grandfathered in. Pros, they do put off a lot of heat. Cons, they are messy, require a stockpile of firewood, and can be considered dangerous.
Gas Fireplace – Most new construction these days uses gas fireplace inserts. These are a great alternative to wood and have a real flame and give off a fair amount of heat. But gas fireplace inserts can cost thousands of dollars not to mention the cost of running gas lines. I was quoted $8k to convert my wood burning to gas just two years ago! These also require professional installation.
Electric Fireplace – An electric fireplace insert is a great alternative to create the same vibe and add some heat without the extra cost. They usually include a heating element similar to a space heater and offer different flame settings including varying colors and speeds.
Faux Fireplace – These are popular choices when construction is not an option but the aesthetic of a fireplace or fireplace mantel is wanted. These involve no heat but sometimes might include logs, faux logs, or candles where the firebox would normally be.
How long did this project take?
The Modern DIY Electric Fireplace and Shiplap TV Wall took about three weekends to complete, however, this is part of a big project at my mom’s house so the entire process was not done consecutively. It could have been done in a week if I had consecutive and dedicated days to work on it. If you want to see all the behind the scenes and video, check out my Instagram fireplace highlight.
This room is getting closer to the finish line so make sure you follow me on Instagram to see how the rest unfolds! Coming soon, ceiling beams and an accent wall 😉
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This post, Modern DIY Electric Fireplace and Shiplap TV Wall, appeared first on Garrison Street Design Studio.