Although the need for individual solid fuel, gas or electric fires has been displaced by the fitting of central heating systems in most houses in Northern Europe, builders often fit fires in living rooms for aesthetic or nostalgic reasons. The fire surrounds would have been manufactured from stone or solid wood in the past but now MDF is widely used as the main constructional material.
In its simplest form, the surround will consist of wood veneered or painted MDF panelling enclosing the fire and providing a top shelf and possibly side shelves for ornaments and other bric a brac.
A more decorative surround can be built up from MDF pillars, machine carved in a classical style, with an ornate pediment supported on carved capitals. A good paint finish can be achieved taking advantage of the good machining characteristics of MDF, the use of an appropriate profile edge sanding process, and a two component sealer. The choice of an effective sealer is particularly important so that a smooth finish can be achieved with only one or two top coats.
Good results can be achieved using rag rolling, stippling or marble effect paints.
MDF is particularly suited to this application because of its small movement in response to relatively large changes in ambient conditions in close proximity to a fire which is used intermittently.
MDF is also widely used for the construction of decorative covers or surrounds for radiators which are often unsightly additions to a room. MDF panels, wood veneered or painted, can be used to construct a box surround for each radiator. The front can be left open to allow good air circulation or covered by a grooved front panel or a panel fabricated from interlocking strips of thin MDF.
The covers may be supplied as prefabricated components to fit standard size radiators or they may be built up on site as part of the interior joinery installation taking advantage of the ease of machining MDF with simple tools.