Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fireplace Transformation

This is a shot of the awful fireplace wall the day we moved in.  As part of the kitchen renovation we ripped out most of the brick and the wood mantle.
We then framed the walls where the brick used to be, insulated and drywalled.
This is what it looked like after all the brick was tossed and the new drywall hung.
Next we applied a scratch coat over the brick. Because our brick had never been painted we didn't need to install lath first. The brick corbels will eventually be covered in stone and serve as the support for the slate mantle.
We used an Eldorado stone which has a very authentic look. We taped off an area on our deck the size of the fireplace first to dry fit all the stones to ensure we liked the look before we mixed our thin set. That was time consuming but very important. We had some difficulty getting the stone to stick on the row with the keystone because there was no row beneath it to support while it dried. We eventually built a support out of 2x4's to brace it until it dried. We then came back and piped in some mortar in the cracks.
We hired a local carpenter to build bookcases flanking the fireplace. We've been working on our DIY skills over the years but serious carpentry is one we haven't mastered yet so we left this one up to the professionals. They were built out of MDF and color matched to the kitchen cabinetry.
So that was my version that probably read like an HGTV "how to" commercial. Don't you find it amazing how they'll give you instructions on something complicated like "how to install kitchen cabinets" in a 30 second commercial? Like anyone would be versed enough after that to install their kitchen.
Here's the real nitty gritty from the doer in our operation (I'm just there to look cute):
  • Applied a stucco mortar skin coat over brick. (This can be tricky if brick is sealed…. spray with water and if beads of water appear, will need to strip / sand down or rough up to help adhesion.)
  • You can nail mesh to brick, then stucco to help stucco stay while it dries, we didn’t, but had issues with stucco sagging and probably should have
  • Measure surface (with stucco) and dry fit everything first. We measured and taped off on flat surface and laid it all out, and made the cuts….before mixing any veneer mortar.
  • Once scratch coat is dry (~1-2 days), “back butter” veneer stone using veneer stone mortar then set.- May need to build support frames to help keep in place as they dry (e.g. above fireplace opening span and corners.)
  • Apply same veneer stone mortar as “grout”, can also dry stack with no gap if desired.
  • We used a blue thermal flagstone for the mantle and hearth and added that at the end setting in mortar. If you’re going this route, will need to add a corbel for support to mantle. I turned 2 bricks in the top row sideways (protruding out of fireplace plane), and mortared in place prior to the skin coat. Then used a corner veneer to cover the brick bottom and face that was exposed (top was covered by mantle.)
Added to link party: Between Naps On The Porch


  1. I linked to this from YHL! The fireplace looks great and thanks for being specific about the manufacturer (I've looked into Eldorado stone for our fireplace, too). What is the slab that makes up the hearth of the fireplace? Slate?

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  3. beautiful, wow, ask and you shall receive! you started this blog today??! good job :)

    1. Thank YOU for lighting a fire under me to put.the.paintbrush.down and finally get it started!

  4. I love what you did with your fireplace...I have nearly the same one and really want to update it! Thanks for the inspiration! You rock:)

    1. Thanks so much! My husband just posted the 'how to' that we used if that helps!