Introduction

Fireplaces
Photo: Joe Standart
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Chipped bricks, a stained hearth, and years of accumulated soot can turn what should be the focal point of a living room into an eyesore. Replacing a hearth and surround—either with seamless tone slabs or with ceramic or stone tiles—makes a big difference in the way a fireplace looks.

On these pages, Dan McLaughlin, with help from carpenter Thad King, shows how to replace an old quarry-tile hearth and cover a brick surround with four sleek granite slabs, each 1¼ inches think. It took McLaughlin and King just a few days work to rejuvenate this fireplace and reinstall the existing mantel. Installing a tile surround might take a bit longer, but there's less heavy lifting than with stone.
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    Tools List

    • Demolition hammer
      Demolition hammer
    • suction cups
      Suction cups
      for moving heavy slabs of stone
    • notched trowel
      1/2-inch notched trowel
    • brick trowel
      Brick trowel
      for smoothing topping mix in corners of hearth base
    • flat finishing trowel
      Flat finishing trowel
      for smoothing topping mix on hearth base
    • brick hammer
      Brick hammer
    • mallet
      Mallet
    • mason's brush
      Mason's brush
    • circular saw
      Circular saw
    • jigsaw
      Jigsaw

    Shopping List

    1. STONE SLABS
    Make cardboard templates of the pieces you'll need and take them to a fabricator that specializes in stone countertops.

    2. TILE
    Make cardboard templates as you would with stone, and then plot the layout of the tiles on these. This will give you an exact count, but order extra.