There’s nothing quite as nice as having a fireplace in your home. You want it to look its best, so is it okay to put drywall around it?
Never install drywall within 6 inches of the fireplace opening. As a very flammable material, it could easily combust with the high temperature of the fire. You must use other materials, such as granite, tile, or stone, next to the firebox.
I can remember when I first started working in construction. At that time, I thought, ‘anything goes,’ but it wasn’t long before I learned about the different codes that help to keep us safe.
One regulatory document is the National Fire Code, which regulates how close you can put drywall to the fireplace. It’s not that you can’t drywall around the fireplace. You just can’t do it within 6 inches of the firebox opening.
That regulation is not only valid for drywall. It is valid for any combustible material. Let’s say you may want to put some trim or a wood mantle in the area. Doing so is okay, but you must keep the National Fire Code in mind.
According to the code, any combustible material, such as wood or drywall, should be 6 inches from the opening of the firebox. If it protrudes away from the wall, you must add an extra inch from the firebox for every 1/8 inch of protrusion.
Of course, you will have drywall near the firebox at some point or another. As long as it is away from the firebox by at least 6 inches, you will be within code and can sleep at night, knowing that you are not creating a fire hazard.
Incidentally, other factors can keep you safe when you have a fireplace. For example, a hearth extension should come out from the fireplace, and it needs to be non-combustible as well.
The hearth is there for any hot materials that come out of the fireplace, such as hot coals. The coals would otherwise land on the floor if it weren’t for the hearth.
Similar regulations are also in place for wood stoves. If you have a wood stove close to the wall, you cannot have drywall behind it if it is within 6 inches of the fire.
One other thing to consider is putting drywall around a zero-clearance fireplace. These fireplaces are more heavily insulated, so heat is not as much of a problem.
It’s good to check local regulations before working with a zero-clearance fireplace. They will either dictate the National Fire Code to you or have their own code.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential problems of putting drywall around a fireplace. These are factors to consider before you begin work.
Should You Put Drywall Around A Fireplace?
Before you begin any project, it’s essential to look at the dangers so you can mitigate them. This is also true of something as dangerous as putting drywall around the fireplace.
As we already discussed, putting drywall within 6 inches of the fireplace violates the National Fire Code. There are still some dangers in putting it 6 inches away from the opening.
Fire: One of the most common problems associated with putting drywall around the fireplace is the possibility of fire. Drywall is a combustible material, including the paper that is on either side of it.
If you put the drywall 6 inches from the fireplace, you reduce the risk of fire considerably. However, you can do something else to reduce it even further.
One type of drywall you should consider using is fire-rated drywall. Fire-rated drywall is typically known as Type X drywall. It reduces the risk of fire considerably.
Remember that you should still not put Type X drywall within 6 inches of the fireplace opening. It is not fireproof; it is fire rated. What does this mean?
Type X drywall has glass fibers that reinforce the drywall and help slow the spread of fire. Consider using it, but keep it at least 6 inches away from the firebox.
Smoke: They sometimes say, ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire,’ but the opposite is also true. When you have a fire, you have smoke. At times, that smoke will escape the fireplace and could end up staining the wall.
Most of the non-combustible materials you will have within 6 inches of the firebox will handle the smoke well. Those materials can include stone and tile.
If the smoke stains the drywall, repairs may be necessary. You can sometimes wipe it down, but too much smoke stain will be an eyesore.
What Tools Do You Need To Put Drywall Around A Fireplace
Before I begin any project, I ensure I have all my tools within arms reach. It would help if you did the same.
The following are some of the tools you will need for hanging drywall. These are similar to the tools required for hanging drywall in any location. The difference is you will not be putting drywall within 6 inches of the fireplace opening.
- Drywall T-Square
- Tape Measure
- Utility Knife
- Cordless Drill
- Drywall Screw Bit
- Drywall Knife
- Drywall Screws
- Drywall Saw
Do you have other tools that you use on every DIY project? Personally, I never do anything without a five-in-one tool in my tool pouch.
It’s good to have your favorite tools with you because you will find that you use them repeatedly.
What Preparations Do You Need To Put Drywall Around A Fireplace?
It has often been said that if you fail to plan, you can plan to fail. That is also true when hanging drywall.
Coming to the job with a plan allows you to get the job done with fewer problems. The first step in the process is preparing to hang the drywall.
Hidden Items: When you hang drywall, even near a fireplace, you will likely be covering over items hidden in the wall. These can include plumbing, electrical, insulation, and heating/cooling.
Once the drywall is in place, it is difficult to fix any existing issues. It is better to test everything and inspect the systems so you can hang the drywall confidently.
Marking the items and knowing their location is also crucial for your safety. The last thing you want to do is drill into an electrical line. Know what is behind the drywall and act accordingly.
Copyright protected content owner: ReadyToDIY.com and was initially posted on January 31, 2023.
Clean As You Go: Another essential factor for hanging drywall is to have a clean area where you work. Not only is it important to clean the area as you work, but you should also start with a clean and clear workspace.
Having a clean workspace allows you to maneuver the drywall into place more easily. It also makes it easier to cut the drywall without cutting yourself.
Measure Twice: Remember the axiom, ‘measure twice, cut once.’ Measure everything in the room and formulate a plan to hang the drywall with a minimal amount of edges. Doing so will make a much cleaner and neater finished job.
How To Put Drywall Around A Fireplace
Now is the time to hang the drywall. If this is your first time working with drywall, don’t worry. Hanging drywall is straightforward as long as you take your time and follow the steps.
First, it’s essential to remember that the National Fire Code does not allow putting drywall or combustible materials within 6 inches of the firebox. Outside of that range, you can hang drywall as you usually would.
Copyright article owner is ReadyToDiy.com for this article. This post was first published on January 31, 2023.
Hang Horizontally: When I first started hanging drywall, I always hung it vertically. I now always hang it horizontally.
When you hang drywall horizontally, you reduce the taping, resulting in a much cleaner job.
Ceiling: If you are installing drywall on both the ceiling and the walls, always install the drywall on the ceiling first.
Measure and Cut: Measure the room’s height and cut the drywall so you have a small gap on the upper edge. A 1/4″ gap is standard, but you could get away with a little less.
Mark the drywall with a pencil and use a drywall square as a guide for the utility knife. Always pay careful attention to both hands so you don’t cut your fingers while working.
Run the utility knife with a sharp blade along the edge of the drywall square. You aim to cut through the paper and a small amount of gypsum. Essentially, you are creating the weakest point on the drywall.
Snap and Cut: Tilt the drywall on its edge and use your knee to snap it by pressing against the opposite side of the score mark. You can then cut through the paper carefully at that point.
Pro Tip: Use a small amount of joint compound on the studs before putting the drywall in place. It will hold the drywall when it dries, so fewer screws are needed.
- Put the drywall in place.
- Get help, if necessary, for heavy pieces.
- Begin screwing the board in place, starting from the center of the board and working toward the edges.
Use a drywall screw bit for this job. It allows you to sync the screw below the surface without breaking through the paper.
Tape and Mud: The final part of the process is to tape the joints and use drywall compound (mud) for the rest. Don’t add more joint compound than necessary or you will have extra work to do when sanding.
It may take more than one application of the joint compound to cover and smooth out the tape. Continue to work with it until you are satisfied with the look.
Sanding: Although it is possible to use dry sandpaper for this purpose, I have always preferred wet sanding. Wet sanding accomplishes the same thing as sandpaper with a sponge and water.
Use a large sponge for this purpose. The more saturated the sponge, the stronger the sanding effect. When you are close to finishing, have the sponge wrung out more thoroughly.
At this point, you are ready to apply primer and paint. Enjoy your fireplace!
Although you can install drywall around a fireplace, it must be at least 6 inches from the opening, according to the National Fire Code. Consider using Type X drywall as the first sheet near the fireplace, as it is fire-rated (not fireproof).
ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on January 31, 2023.