How To Install A Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround

Enhance Your Home With a Stone Veneer Fireplace

Planning Your Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround

When you first visualize your Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround, it truly is a thing of beauty. You picture yourself taking in the incredible ambiance of the amazing natural stone veneer you installed yourself. In fact, this will become the favourite room in your home.

But first you must plan your surround. Make notes of what type of stone veneer you would like, what style, pattern, color of stone you prefer. There are many suppliers of stone veneer products, it is wise to check all that are available in your area.

There are several types of stone veneer including real stone, manufactured stone, and stone look-a-like products. For my fireplace I chose real stone veneer. More importantly I chose a real stone veneer that could be installed using a thinset mortar. You cannot get more natural than real stone, and the warmth this adds to a fireplace surround is above all.

There are also many styles, patterns and colors to choose from. Styles are available in slate, granite, limestone, marble and many others. You can also select from ledgestone, plank, fiddlesticks and numerous other styles and patterns. Lastly, you must choose a color to match your taste, something that will also go with the room décor.

Visit your local Stone Veneer retail outlets and check out their display boards. This will give you the best impression of the Stone Veneer look your have visualized for your fireplace.

Beautiful Ledgestone Stone Veneer

How to Install Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround

Preparing the Surface for the Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround

Depending on whether this is a new fireplace or an existing fireplace, you may have to perform a little demolition work to remove the old surround. In my case, I had an old red brick surround, very dated and totally lacking of any warmth or character. The best way to knock down the old red brick surround is to use a jack hammer. I rented a small jack hammer for under $30 for the day, and the bricks came apart like butter.

Since your are installing stone, you will also need to prepare the surface. Stone must be installed on a surface that the stone will adhere to. You can either install a fireproof cement board over the fireplace bezel and surounding area, or you can install metal lathe and a scratch coat of S Type Cement. I have used metal lathe for outdoor projects, to cover wood surfaces. For the fireplace surround I chose the cement board as it is much simpler to install and less messy. I would highly recommend usng cement board for indoor projects.

The cement board is the same product used to prepare subfloors for stone tiles. Cement boards are easily cut with a handsaw. They are secured to the wall by using backer board type screws. You need to install the screws six inches apart over the entire surface. If the install is covering a drywall area adjacent to the fireplace, it would be best to cover or replace the drywall first with plywood. The backer board screws will secure themselves to the plywood much better than drywall.

If you are installing a mantel, now is the time to do so, before you adhere the stone.

Installing the Stone Veneer

The stone veneer I chose to work with is a ledgestone style. The pattern includes four layers of stone with an overlap between the top two layers and the bottom two. This provides an interlocking affect and creates a surround with no visble patterns.

This is real stone, therefore you will need a wet saw. The ledgestone varies in thickness generally less than 1.5 inches which is thin enough to use a low grade wet saw. You can rent these or as I did, purchase one. They run between $100 and $200 depending on various options such as blade depth and motor HP. For myself, the purchase made sense as I also had other home projects to tackle, such as installing a slate stone floor and also installing a stone tile bathroom and shower.

Since this is ledgestone, the thinset cement was perfect for the job. The thinset cement is easily mixed in a five gallon pail, just add cold water and mix. I used a gardening tool to mix with, something with a long handle with a blade at the bottom. This way you don't get a sore back. Mix the cement until it has the consistency of peanut butter. Add more water or cement powder as needed.

Once the cement is mixed, layout your stone pattern, measure and cut the stone to form one complete row across the bottom of the fireplace surround area. Then apply a thin layer of cement mixture to the cement board, covering the area previously measured for the stone. With a grouved trowel, scrape over the cement mixture and remove the excess cement.

Then push the stone onto the cement board. Simply wiggle the stone into place and let go, then repeat the process until the row of stone has been completed. Keep mixing more cement as needed, and repeat the process of measuring and cutting one complete row of stone at a time.

Ledgstone Stone Veneer

Stone Veneer Fireplace Surround - A DYI Project

Completing the Install of the Stone Veneer Surround

After you have adhered the last stone, you can add some definition by applying a coat of stone wash. This will bring out the colors in the stone for a rich finish. Now you can stand back and admire. Add a little mood lighting and soft music, and now you are ready to enjoy countless hours in front of your fireplace. This used to be a room I seldom used, now it is my favorite place to entertain guests, spend time with family or just listen to my favorite music.

I would be happy to offer advise to anyone interested in transforming a room in their home into an escape haven. I highly recommend using stone products to add warmth and charm to your home.

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Comments 14 comments

carcro profile image

carcro 4 years ago from Winnipeg Author

Thanks a bunch Beth! I'm sure your fireplace will look amazing. Have a great weekend too.

Beth 4 years ago

Carcro, my husband said to give you a big thanks! Have a great weekend.

carcro profile image

carcro 4 years ago from Winnipeg Author

I have not experienced any such problems with my fireplace. When I had spoken with the fireplace installers, they had not indicated any concerns regarding the thermal issue. I believe they had noted that the cement\mortar was capable of handling the heat from the fireplace. The main requirement was to use a fireproof cement board, and I don't mean the floor board type. The cement board has no outer paper wrapping, just pure cement, therefore heavier than floor board. The Home Improvement centre in your area should be able to show you the right cement board for the job.

Beth 4 years ago

Thanks so much for the quick response! It is GREATLY appreciated. Any concerns about thermal expansion causing cracks in the stone or mortar?

carcro profile image

carcro 4 years ago from Winnipeg Author

Hi Beth, I covered the metal bezel as well as the complete fireplace surround surface with fire proof cement board and secured to the metal bezel using self tapping metal screws. The gas fireplace supplier had noted this is the most common method. The alternative is to cover the metal bezel with metal lathe, then a scratch coat of S type cement and finally the stone veneer with additional S type cement applied. The latter is more effort only needed if using a heavier stone veneer. The stone veneer I had used only required a thinset morter.

Beth 4 years ago

Carcro, we are doing something similar with our fireplace. I am wondering how to put stone over the metal part of the fireplace and whether thermal expansion of the stone/mortar adhered to the metal part is a problem. Thanks for any help you can give us!


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg Author

Once again, thank you so much for commenting Derdriu. Its definitely not for everyone, but interesting enough this was one of the easier home reno projects I have done, and fastest too.

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Derdriu 5 years ago

Carcro: Very nice! Thank you for de-mystifying the process of stone veneering a fireplace and mantle. Even if I'm not going to do it myself, I appreciate understanding the effort and materials which give me what I seek.

Voted up, etc.,


carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg Author

But your have fantastic recipes!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Thanks! Hubby is very handy, so I'm sure he'll figure it out. On the other hand, I'm pretty useless at this sort of stuff. lol

carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg Author

Thanks for commenting Habee. It depends on what kind of Brick you have and what kind of stone you will be installing. If you have a natural raw brick surface, no coatings of any kind, you can install the stone right over top. But the stone would have to be the type that requires an S type cement with a bonding agent. This is how I applied stone to the exterior raw brick surfaces of my home. Some people use the same stone for inside projects.

But if you use a natural stone like I did on my fireplace, then you will need cement board and thin set mortar. In this case I did use cement board to cover the walls as well as the fireplace surround. For adhering to the brick surface, I would use thin set cement on the back of the cement board as well as masonry anchors and screws to secure. You only need the mesh on surfaces that are treated, ie coated brick (painted or sealed), wood, any painted surface and so on.

For the outside of my home, I had three surfaces to deal with, stucco, raw brick and wood. I had to use the metal lathe mesh to cover any wood areas and any areas that I removed the wood and left an open wall area. When you use mesh, you have to apply a scratch coat first. For the stucco and raw brick areas, I applied the stone directly onto the surface using S type cement and a bonding agent.

For thin set mortar, you can mix by hand. For S type cement I would highly recommend renting a small cement mixer. Also using a tint for the mortar really helps blend in the colors, otherwise cement is greyish and may take away from the appearance.

As always, I would recommend you consult with your local stone suppliers on the best method to install the stone you decide to purchase from them. If you want a simpler install process, ask them which stones they carry will give you the ease of installation. There are many styles to choose from and installation can vary greatly.

Hope that helps.

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Awesome! We're going to close in our carport, and I want a stone veneer fireplace and wall. The stone will be placed over a brick wall. Do we just put cement board over the brick first? Someone has suggested using wire mesh. Whatcha think? Voted up and +1'd!

carcro profile image

carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg Author

Thanks Johnathan, I am completely a novice in home renovations, but find a lot of satisfaction in learning how to do things myself. There are so many little things no one tells you though, so I like to pass along my own experiences in hope it helps someone else.

Johnathan L Groom profile image

Johnathan L Groom 5 years ago from Bristol, CT

the most informative thing I have read in a while!


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