What is a Cast Iron Fireplace Surround?

Micki Elizabeth
Micki Elizabeth
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A cast iron fireplace surround is a decorative and functional addition to many fireplaces. As the name might suggest, it surrounds the actual fireplace on the sides, top, and sometimes below the fireplace as well and acts as a safety feature. A cast iron fireplace surround may be made of a particular type of iron or any number of ferrous alloys that can hold and radiate heat. Often decorated in the Victorian style, this type of surround can also aesthetically enhance the look of a common brick or tile surround.

Often times, a cast iron fireplace surround is built into the wall. The fireplace is thus enclosed on all sides except for the front opening. This set up may have a number of beneficial effects.

Surrounds can be considered a safety measure. A cast iron fireplace surround is not flammable; therefore, any sparks or flames that could otherwise start a fire in the home are not harmful to the surround. Furthermore, a surround typically extends several inches or centimeters beyond the fireplace. It creates a barrier between the fire and potentially flammable materials the home is built from, such as wood and plaster.

Metal is widely known for its ability to hold and transfer heat. A cast iron fireplace surround could be made of iron or sometimes from an alloy of silicon and carbon. When a fireplace is in use, it not only heats the room; the fire also heats the metal surround. The cast iron releases heat slowly, even after one has discontinued use of the fireplace.

In addition, because a surround is often built into a wall, heat can be held in a wall and transferred throughout a home. This effect could also be beneficial in trapping and releasing heat over time. As fireplaces are not recommended for use during the night while one is asleep, the cast iron’s ability to continue releasing heat could last for up to several hours into a cold night.

The Victorian style is often associated with a cast iron fireplace surround. The Victorian era in design spanned the later half of the 19th century and actually includes several different art movements. In general, this style is quite ornate. Scroll work and other similar designs may be made on the cast iron, which is fairly malleable.

Cast iron can also be painted more easily than some other materials that surrounds are often made of, such as brick and tile. Many people like the metal because they can choose from many colors to match the interior design of a room. Cast iron may also be a beneficial material because it does not usually rust.

One can purchase a ready-made cast iron fireplace surround from many retailers. Another option is to have a surround ordered with specific dimensions to fit a particular fireplace. Many different designs and colors are available to suit various tastes. It is important to remember that the metal can become quite hot while the fireplace is in use.

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