Building A Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround For Your Home

Building A Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround For Your Home

Home Improvement

Lightweight cast stones may be added to a faux veneer fireplace surround for a fraction of the price of the genuine thing.

A stone electric fireplace has a nice feel to it, evoking memories of quiet nights spent with loved ones in front of a flaming heart. Think again if you think that using real stone is the only way to achieve this look: today’s cast-stone veneer looks very similar to the real thing, with styles ranging from stacked stone to river rock. And, if the lower price makes it an appealing alternative, the DIY-friendly installation will cement the sale.

How Do You Install Stone Veneer Over A Fireplace?

How Do You Install Stone Veneer Over A Fireplace?

As senior technical editor Mark Powers demonstrates, it just takes a few days to create a foundation for the stones then cement them to your fireplace for a timeless aesthetic that will warm up your Christmas parties for years to come.

A Look At A Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround

A Look At A Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround

Step 1:

Install the Base Layers: Install the Builder’s Felt.

The main horizontal length of the manufacturer’s perceived length overlaps the length of 2 inches or more where the stone will go in front and on the side of the fireplace. Each length of felt should be a continuous single piece to prevent water from seeping beneath the felt and causing harm.

Step 2:

Secure Metal Lath Over the Felt

Metal lath features cuplike protrusions on one side that hold the mortar in place. This side should be positioned facing forward, with the “cups” facing up; it will feel rough to the touch when you run your palm down the wall, but smooth in the other way. Nail horizontal lengths of lath into the wall frame directly in front of the fireplace, overlapping each piece 2 inches or more and placing the nails 6 inches apart. Then, using a spare piece of wood if necessary, bend the lath around the sides of the fireplace and nail it to the framework on the front and side walls to hold it in place and prevent the mortar from crumbling.

Step 3:

Scratch Coat: Cover The Path With Mortar.

Blend the veneer mortar until it has the consistency of creamy peanut butter. Spread it over the lath with a finishing trowel, first using a downward motion to “fill” the cups, then building the surface to a thickness of 12 inches by spreading additional mortar over the first layer using a side-to-side or fanning motion.

Step 4:

Scratch Coat Comb

Comb the mortar horizontally using a notched tiling trowel held at a small angle to the surface while it is still malleable (approximately 20 minutes after application). These grooves provide a rough surface for the mortared stones to adhere to. Allow the scratch coat to cure for at least one night (or longer).

Step 5:

Prepare The Stone Field: Make A Test Run Of Your Design

Choosing and arranging the stones on a template allows you to see how they will look after they are placed. Tape plastic sheeting or an old drop cloth to a level surface and trace the contour of your fireplace with painter’s tape. Begin by assembling the corner sections that will wrap around the fireplace’s entrance and sides. Fill in the rest of the field, leaving a joint approximately the width of a finger between each stone and staggering stones of various sizes, shapes, and colors to produce the desired aesthetic. Because the corner pieces for the header at the top of the fireplace opening will be set vertically rather than horizontally, use stones of comparable height in this location.

Step 6:

Score The Corner Pieces

This is the first of two processes in the process of cutting the stones to size. Measure the depth of the fireplace opening on the top and sides, leaving enough space all around to remove the doors or screen after the stones are in place. Starting at the inner corner of each stone’s backside, mark the dimensions on the appropriate corner pieces. Score the rear sides to a depth of nearly half their thickness using a grinder. Then, measure the depth of the sidewalls of the fireplace and mark and score the remaining corner pieces in the same way.

Step 7:

Remove Excess Material From The Corner Pieces

Hold a stone so that the waste side protrudes over the edge of your work surface. To make a natural-looking split, strike the waste side with a brick hammer. Rep with the remaining corner pieces.

Step 8:

Install The Corner Pieces: Wet The Stone And Wall

You’ll start with the left-side corner piece for this region because you’ll be installing the header first. Dampen the back of the stone and the area on the wall where the stone will be put with a spray bottle or moist sponge. The moisture will allow the mortar to cure more slowly, resulting in a stronger connection.

Step 9:

Coat the First Corner Pieces For The Header

Make the mortar into a pudding-like consistency. Apply a 12- to 3/4-inch coating to the backside of the first corner piece using a brick trowel, working it into both sides with a pushing motion until they’re thoroughly coated. Then, using the trowel’s tip, create a furrow in the middle of the mortar on each surface. Allowing wet mortar to drop onto the face of the stone will result in discoloration.

Step 10:

Install The Header Stones

Firmly press the stone into the top-left corner of the header. Wiggle it back and forth gently, and stop pushing when you feel the stone make contact with the top of the scratch coat. As you do this, mortar should leak from all edges of the stone. Rep with the rest of the header stones.

Tip: Don’t try to wipe wet mortar off the face of cast stone; you’ll wind up pushing it deep into the stone’s surface pores, where it will dry and leave permanent blotches and stains. Instead, allow the mortar to dry before wiping it off with a whisk broom.

Step 11:

Install the Rest of the Corner Pieces

Back-butter and install the remaining corner pieces that wrap around the entrance and sides of the corner fireplace, as indicated previously. Allow a finger’s breadth between each stone.

Step 12:

Fill In The Field: Coat The Top-left Fieldstone

Back-butter the stone using the method indicated in Step 10 beginning from the top-left corner of the field. Again, don’t allow wet mortar to leak over the stone’s face.

Step 13:

Install The First Course

Place the stone at the top of the field, almost touching the ceiling. Wiggle it until it is flush with the scratch coat. Mortar should flow out of the stone on all sides. Repeat with the remaining stones in the first course, leaving a finger’s breadth between each stone.

Step 14:

Finish The Field

Continue to add stones from the top down to prevent mortar from falling over the face of the stones below as you work. Again, leave a finger-width gap between each stone. Dress the ends of any cut stones with more mortar. Before you call it a day, use a striking tool and a whisk broom to remove leftover mortar between the stones so that you may pour fresh grout tomorrow. Allow the mortar to cure overnight.

As you install the stones, take note of their size, color, and form. For better outcomes, don’t be afraid to tweak your initial pattern or trim the stones to size.

Step 15:

Grout The Stones: Fill The Joints With Grout

Continue to add stones from the top down to prevent mortar from falling over the face of the stones below as you work. Again, leave a finger-width gap between each stone. Dress the ends of any cut stones with more mortar. Before you call it a day, use a striking tool and a whisk broom to remove leftover mortar between the stones so that you may pour fresh grout tomorrow. Allow the mortar to cure overnight.

As you install the stones, take note of their size, color, and form. For better outcomes, don’t be afraid to tweak your initial pattern or trim the stones to size.

Step 16:

Strike The Grout

Allow the grout to dry until touching it with your finger creates a depression but does not break through the surface (about 60 minutes). Carve the grout to the appropriate form and depth using the striking tool. (Depending on the size of the joints, you may use a store-bought striking tool, a chopstick, or the end of a 1×1 that’s been rounded with sandpaper.)

Carve a grout profile that lies below the face of the stones for a traditional style; for a rustic effect, like the one we used, shape the grout to sit flush with the stones (known as an overgrowth method), then go over the grout lines with a whisk brush to achieve a natural-looking finish. Allow at least 48 hours for the grout to set before utilizing the fireplace.