Using stacked stone to create your own stone fireplace that will give living room the ultimate touch of classiness, is definitely a great idea. But you may be a little bit hesitant of trying the process yourself wondering would it turn out as astounding as you’re imagining it to be. Well, you can make it happen just like pros by taking the process slow and steady.
Today we will talk about how to build a stone fireplace all by yourself. Make sure you give each step enough time and not rush this process. That’s one simple trick that basically can lead you to the flawless after look you’re wishing for.
Let’s Find Out How to Build a Stone Fireplace for a Pro-Like Result.
Start by planning each day with some chores. You probably can’t finish it within a day. So, make sure you have at least three days in hand. It’s best to take part in such projects during weekends.
You’ll need a day for the builder’s felt, scratch coat, and metal lath application. That night it will dry completely. Then the next day, go for installing stones and joints clean up chore. And finally, on the last day, you can grout joints.
1. Installing the Builder’s Felt & Metal Lath
Start working from the bottom up. Onto fronts and sides of the fireplace, you need to staple builder’s felt. Make sure you are maintaining horizontal length while stapling. Also, overlap the length by at least 2 inches. You can go more if you’d want to. Make sure each felt is continuous. This will make the water in the mortar unable to seep behind felt. And that’ll help to avoid damage basically.
Next, you need to secure the metal lath on top of this felt. To keep the mortar in place, there’s one side of the metal lath that looks like cup protrusions. This site needs to be facing forward when installed. The cups need to be facing up.
When you run your hands down the wall, it should feel a bit rough. But in the opposite direction, it’s going to feel smooth. On the front of fireplace, you need to nail the lath directly into framing of wall. You need to maintain 2 inches overlap here.
The nails should be spaced 6 inches apart. Using a scrap wood piece, simply bend the lath. Make it come around the fireplace sides. Then you need to nail it onto the front and side wall framing. And this will keep it in the right place as well as avoid any damage to mortar.
2. Scratch Coat Application
Start this step by mixing the veneer mortar. The consistency should be like creamy peanut butter here. To spread it evenly onto the lath, simply use a finishing trowel. To fill the cups, you should start with a downward motion. Then use a side-to-side motion for building up the thickness by half an inch. So that a generous spread of mortar is possible over the first layer.
After around 20 minutes, you’ll notice the mortar is still pliable. At this point, you need to comb it gradually maintaining horizontal movement. Use the notched tiling trowel here. While applying, you need to hold it at a slight angle with the surface. To make the surface textured, these groves will be pretty helpful. And it’ll result in better grabbing of mortar stones. Now let the scratch coat cure for at least that following night or more if possible.
3. Consider a Practice Round for Deciding the Design
Try laying out the stones on a template. So that you can decide which ones you’d like to install. Use a plastic sheeting or old drop cloth. Tape it onto the flat surface. And then you can simply use a painter’s tape to create the outline.
Start by the fireplace’s opening and sides that need corner pieces for wrapping. You need to fill in the rest. Make sure to leave a finger width equal joint in between two stones of different shapes or sizes or colors. At top of fireplace opening, the header will need corner pieces. These require to be installed vertically, not horizontally. So here you need stones with similar height.
4. Time for Scoring
There will be two steps to cut the stone into required sizes. For first one, you need the depth of fireplace opening on sides and tops. There might be a situation of removing the doors or screens. So, ensure you leave enough clearance.
Now mark down the measurements on corner pieces. You need to begin from each stone’s backside inner corner. To make depth around half the thickness, you need to use a grinder and score backside. Get the fireplace’s sidewall depth measurements next. Markdown all the remaining corner pieces following same method.
5. Getting Excess Material Out
You need to hold stone so that the extra side can hang over. And then you can simply strike the excess away from sides using a brick hammer. This will give a more natural-looking split. You need to do this for every corner piece.
When you are getting rid of the excess from corner piece, lining it up can help. This will make the score line roughly even to work surface’s edge. You also need to use firm hands for holding. So that the entire stone does not accidentally break.
6. Corner Pieces Installation
Start by installing the header. For this area, you should begin from the left side corner piece. You need to dampen back of the stone by using a spray bottle or a wet sponge. Also, dampen the wall areas that will hold those stones. This will help to make the mortar’s curing process slow. And so, there will be a stronger bond by the end.
You need to mix the mortar. Go for a pudding-like consistency. Then apply half to three quarters inches layer on the first corner piece’s backside using a brick trowel. You need to use a pushing motion so that each surface gets enough force for working. Do this until the coat is complete. On each surface mortar’s center area, you need to make a furrow using the trowel’s tip. You should to go for a pushing motion to do so. By no means, the wet mortar should drip onto the stone’s face. It will result in stains otherwise.
7. Install the Header Stones
On the top left part of header, you should firmly press stone to stick in place. You need to wiggle it back and forth using minimal force. Once the stone touches top part of scratch coat, stop pressing. While doing so, the mortar needs to ooze from each side. Keep doing the same process for every remaining header stones.
Never try to wipe wet mortar form the cast stone face. This will deeply push the mortar into stone’s surface pore and create unnecessary stains. These are pretty hard to remove. You can simply brush it off using whisk broom instead after the mortar dries completely.
You also need to complete the installation of remaining corner pieces that go around sides and opening of the fireplace. Don’t forget to leave a finger width equal joint between the stones.
8. Keep on adding stones to finish field
Using the same methods for back buttering stone, you need to start from top-left portion of field. Here also, you need to avoid dripping the wet mortar on stone’s face. Firmly press the stone in field’s top part. It needs to almost touch the ceiling. Wiggle and let it sit against the scratch coat nicely. Do this for the remaining stones.
From the top-down, keep on adding stones to finish field. This way you’ll be able to stop the mortar from falling on face. Use extra mortar for cut stone’s ends. Use a striking tool and whisk broom to get rid of any excess between the stones. And this will also help in having enough space for the fresh grout. Let the mortar now cure for at least that night or longer if possible.
9. Finally, The Grouting Process
You need to cut grout bag’s end to the size of joint width. Use fresh grout mix to fill half of the bag. The consistency needs to be like pudding. The wide end of bag needs to be shut nicely. Now squeeze the grout towards top. So that all air bubbles are gone. And the grout should reach opening part.
Now you need to fill the grouts with an upward pulling motion. Make sure you begin from the vertical head joints. Slowly work towards to the horizontal bed joints. You can use a step tool for the head joints as well. This will help to reach the stones that are higher. When grout starts to flush with or slightly protrudes from stone’s face, stop filling the joints.
Now you need to give the grout time for curing. Use your finger to press and check if it leaves a dent but does not break through the surface. That means the grout is cured. It’ll take an hour typically. Now you can carve the grout and make it into your preferred depth and shape. Simply use a striking tool for that. You can even use a chopstick or 1×1 end instead of the striking tool. The 1×1 needs to be sandpaper rounded though.
Try to carve the grout profile and make it sit below stone’s face. This will give a classic outlook overall. You can also make the grout sit flush with stones for a more rustic effect. Use a whisk broom to go over the lines. This will maintain a natural finish. Before you use the fireplace, make sure to give at least 48 hours for complete curing.
And that was all about how to build a stone fireplace. You will make the results look amazing by giving each step its necessary time and effort. It may sound like a pretty long process, but the results are worth it. So, You Should Definitely Give It a Try.