Step 3: Prepare hearth base

giving a fireplace a facelift
Photo: Brian Wilder
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• Notch the ends of a 2x4 to make a screed that's a foot longer than the hearth; its bottom should fit easily in the excavated area. For the flush hearth, cut the notch depth equal to the thickness of the new hearth stone, plus 3/8 inch (for thinset).
• Wet the hearth base. Mix and pour concrete topping.
• Set ends of screed on floor, notches down. Pull it across hearth while moving it quickly from side to side (as shown).
• Add or remove topping mix and continue to pull screed across it until base is flat. Smooth with a trowel.
• Let mix set overnight.
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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.