Step 5: Prepare the Field of Stones: Create a Dry Run of Your Design

man laying out the stones he'll use to create a stone veneer surround
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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Selecting and laying out the stones on a template helps you visualize how they'll look installed. Tape plastic sheeting or an old drop cloth to a flat surface, and use painter's tape to outline the shape of your fireplace on it. Begin by placing the corner pieces that will wrap the opening and sides of the fireplace. Then fill in the rest of the field, leaving a joint about as wide as a finger between each stone and staggering stones of different sizes, shapes, and colors to achieve the look you want. The corner pieces used for the header at the top of the fireplace opening will be installed vertically instead of horizontally, so opt for stones of similar height in this area.
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    Tools List

    • studfinder
      Stud finder
    • staple gun
      Staple gun
    • hammer
      Hammer
    • flat finishing trowel
      Finishing trowel
    • notched trowel
      Tiling trowel with 3/8-inch notch
    • angle grinder
      Grinder fitted with a diamond masonry blade
    • brick trowel
      Brick trowel
    • brick hammer
      Brick hammer
    • grout sponge
      Grout sponge or spray bottle
    • grout bag
      Grout bag
    • masonry striking tool
      Masonry striking tool
    • Whisk Broom
      Whisk broom

    Shopping List

    1. Stone veneer. Get about 20 percent more than you need to cover your fireplace, to accommodate fit and breakage.

    2. Builder's felt. It acts as a moisture barrier between the mortar and your walls to prevent water damage.

    3. Metal lath to install over the felt. It keeps the mortar in place, creating a base for the stone veneer.

    4. 3/8- or ½-inch staples.

    5. 15/8 -inch galvanized roofing nails.6. Veneer mortar. It contains special additives to create a strong bond between the stone veneer and the surface to which it's attached.

    7. Plastic sheeting. Tape it to your walls, floor, and hearth to protect them while you work.

    8. Painter's tape.

    9. Old drop cloth (optional).