• In this video, This Old House senior technical editor shows how to use stone veneer to get the cozy feel of a masonry fireplace without breaking the budget

    Shown: Filedledge stone in Andante; Eldorado Stone.

    1. Cover the fireplace surround with builder's felt. Work from the bottom up and overlap pieces by 2 inches.

    2. Nail metal lath over the felt. Position it so the cups face up to catch the mortar.

    3. Cover the wall with ½ inch of veneer mortar. After 20 minutes, comb the mortar with a notched trowel. Let the mortar dry overnight.

    4. Create a design for the stones on a canvas, staggering shapes and sizes. Leave finger-width joints between stones.

    5. Cut corner pieces by scoring the cut line with a grinder then striking them with a brick hammer.

    6. Install the first pieces on the header above the fireplace opening. Then move to the sides of the fireplace opening, the sides of the surround, and finally the field. Work from the top down.

    7. Spray the back of each stone with water, then butter it with mortar. Draw a furrow in the mortar with the tip of the trowel.

    8. Press the piece in place and wiggle it to seal it to the scratch coat.

    9. WIth all the pieces in place, clean the joints with a striking tool and a whisk broom. Let the mortar cure overnight.

    10. Grout the joints with veneer mortar squeezed through a bag. Let the grout cure for an hour, then shape the joints and brush them for a natural look.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      Choosing and cutting the stones takes attention to detail.
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    Video Directory

    Selected Topic/Section

      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).