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How to Install Stacked Stone Veneer on a Fireplace

Ask This Old House mason, Mark McCullough, helps a homeowner update her concrete block, wood burning fireplace with a stacked stone veneer and a slab of stone.

In this video, mason Mark McCullough helps a homeowner give her concrete fireplace a facelift. When the homeowners moved in they found a fireplace made out of concrete block without any other finish. While a wood mantle and paint have been added since then, Mark has been called in to upgrade the fireplace even more with some of his masonry tricks.

Steps for Adding Stone Veneer to a Fireplace

1. Make sure the stone for the hearth is cut to size.
2. Measure the fireplace surround of where you’ll be putting the stone veneer and cut the wire lath to size.
a. Mark added the wire mesh because he did not want to apply the mortar directly to paint. If the masonry surface you are adding the stone veneer to is unpainted/sealed, you can skip the wire mesh.
3. Place a wire lath to the fireplace surround. The wire diamonds should be upwards to catch the mortar. Keep the mesh flat against the surface.
4. Use a masonry drill to make a hole on a joint about 1 inch deep and hammer in an anchor.
5. Mix Type S mortar, look at the instructions to see how much water to use.
6. Add a stucco coat with a notch trowel. Use the flat edge to apply the mortar and push it into the metal wire.
7. Create the scratch coat by using the notched edge across the mortar.
8. Let the mortar sit and move onto the hearth. Remove the “lip” of the hearth using a chisel and hammer. Break the mortar between the bricks at the seemingly weakest point.
9. Once the joint of the mortar is broken, take a hammer and pry the brick off the concrete block by placing the chisel under the brick.
10. Repeat this process until all the bricks are removed.
11. Mix more mortar to spread on the hearth. Use a margin trowel to drive the mortar into any crevices. Use the towel to “fluff” the mortar up so when the stone goes down, you can easily wiggle it into the height you want.
12. Butter the mortar up to the firebox to ensure the joint will be extremely tight when the stone is put down. Fireplaces usually settle and open up the joint between the hearth and firebox, so it is extremely important to create a tight joint.
13. Place the stone down on the hearth and wiggle it into place.
14. Use water and a sponge to wet the back of the pieces of stone veneer. Manufactured stone will suck all the water out of the mortar.
15. Butter the backs of stone with more mortar and place onto the fireplace surround.
a. Do not place stones joint over joint. A random placement will look more natural.
16. Use a mallet to tap the stone in the middle of the joint.
17. You will probably have to cut the pieces of stone to fit the fireplace.
18. Mark cut pieces of 2x4s to hold the stone veneer at the top of the firebox and kept it there for an hour.


Resources

Mark installed a stacked stone veneer by Eldorado Stone in the color “Chapel Hill,” with Type S mortar and an adhesive bonding agent, all of which were provided by Sansoucy Stone.

For the hearth material, Mark installed a slab of bluestone, which he got from Cavicchio Greenhouses.

The other tools and materials required for this project, including the masonry drill, wire mesh, and masonry hammer, can all be found at home centers.


Materials


Tools