Putting a resurface on your fireplace surround with decorative panels can be a very beautiful change. There are a lot of choices in material as you shop for panels. Most are applied in the same way, using the same technique. Applying panels is similar to applying tiles except for the fact that you are applying larger pieces or sections.

How Do You Apply Decorative Panels On Your Fireplace Surround as a Resurface?

Decorative panels come in many materials and designs, as mentioned earlier. Some widely used materials for fireplace panels are soapstone, stone veneer, and brick veneer. Use these tips and steps when applying a resurface with decorative panels to your fireplace. It is not a real difficult process.

Surface Preparation

If you are resurfacing brick, cement, or stone, you do not need to make any special preparation for applying decorative panels as these surfaces seem to be made for veneers and tiles. You can dust off old bricks if you want making sure there isn’t an excess of cobwebs. They most likely would just get pressed down under the panels as you apply them with mortar.

Wooden fireplaces are a different story when you attempt to apply decorative panels. Wood is not as sturdy as bricks, cement, or stone and has an adhesive problem when it comes to applying tile or veneer panels in resurfacing. Decorative panels just don’t seem to want to stick to wood. What you do in this case is to completely cover the area you are going to resurface in “Metal Lath”. Metal lath is similar to the stucco wire builders use to make stucco stick to a wood frame.

Prepare Mortar and Apply “Scratch Coat”

A “Scratch Coat” is a term used in plastering techniques to describe the first coat of plaster in which grooves or scratches are made to help the next coat of plaster to stick. The second coat is often called a “Brown Coat”, even though it is not brown in color.

Mortar is the same way, and so is stucco. First you do a “scratch coat” when applying mortar for the resurfacing of your surround with decorative panels. If you are working on cement, brick, or stone, you do the “scratch coat” right on the surface. If you are working with wood it has a metal lath on it, so you would apply your “scratch coat” right over the metal lath so you can’t see it anymore.

Mortar is typically made of sand and cement. You can buy a mix of commercially made mortar which is probably easier. Follow the instructions on the bag to mix it. You want it to be the consistency of tooth paste or creamy peanut butter.

Put the mortar on liberally to ensure good contact with your decorative panels, making sure all areas of the surface are coated as mentioned before. The same applies if your surface requires a metal lath. Make sure it is completely covered, this cannot be stressed enough, as you want to do a good job and make sure you decorative panels are applied securely.

Apply Decorative Panels

You are now ready to apply the decorative panels of your choice. Spray the back of each decorative panel lightly with water then slather it with mortar, much like you are buttering a piece of bread. This is going to “bond” with the mortar already on the surface to be covered.

You can but a groove in the mortar down the center of each to help smooth out the decorative panel if you want. It is much like putting on a very heavy piece of contact paper, only much easier to work with as it has a solid form. The groove will give room to work out any air that gets trapped. Firmly press the decorative panel on and wiggle it a bit to ensure a good placement and stick.

You will be working in sections applying the panels as you go, working from the top of your surround to the bottom. Clean up any stray and noticeable mortar that escaped and smeared on the panels. This should be fairly easy. Now it is time for your panels to sit overnight so they can dry or “cure”.

Your “New Surround” with a Resurface Using Decorative Panels

You will be amazed at the transformation of your surround. The decorative panels come in many designs. Soapstone has tremendous colors and natural hues. The stone and brick decorative panels come in styles imitating almost any stone or brick layout you can dream of. It is a very good feel of decorating success when you resurface a surround using decorative panels.