Stone veneer is an excellent way to add a new face to your fireplace. It can turn any fireplace, home, or building into an exquisite work of art. The natural beauty of stone veneer comes in a myriad of color combinations, textures, and shapes that express themselves well in both modern and old-fashioned structures and designs.
Installing Stone Veneer on Your Fireplace in Three Steps
Is there a difference in the installation methods for manufactured stone veneer and natural stone veneer? There is no difference in the installation process between the two, even though some styles of natural stone can be bulkier or heavier than others.
The heavier and bulkier stone veneer might need additional steps for installation. Before beginning has all of the things you will need, including tools, together with reasonably sized veneer pieces for each step of your project. Organization and preparedness are big keys in the successful applying of veneer.
Step One; Clean and Prepare Surface of Fireplace
The surface of the fireplace to which you are adhering the veneer needs to be clean, free of dust, dirt, and old chipping paint. The veneer can be directly applied to an installation of brick or concrete and no special preparation is needed. Any other type of surface must be “sheathed” first with a metal lath to prepare the surface for the stone veneer to stick to. Metal lath is similar to Stucco wire. Either can be used.
It is also nice to cover the fireplace in builder’s felt before putting the metal lath on, working from the bottom up. When you are actually applying veneer you work from the top down. You can overlap the pieces of felt by a few inches or so to completely cover your fireplace surroundings, and then lightly tap nails into the metal lath to secure it. Make sure the little cups on the metal lath are sticking up to hold the mortar. Remember if you are applying the veneer directly to brick or concrete YOU DO NOT need a metal lath for the adhesive (mortar) to stick to or for added strength to your fireplace.
Step Two; Prepare and Apply Scratch Coat of Mortar
To prepare the mortar, mix two parts of washed sand with one part of Portland cement. You are going to layer this on the surface to be covered with the veneer about ½ inch thick. Twenty minutes after you apply the mortar to make light grooves (or scratches) horizontally with a metal scraper while the mortar is still soft and pliable. After this allow the “scratch coat” to cure for approximately 24 hours or dry overnight.
Many wonder why they need to apply a “scratch coat” of mortar if they are using a metal lath already. The metal lath has diamond spacing and the “scratch coat” goes into these holes to create a good bonding place for the adhesive. The metal lath is basically taking the place, or imitating the surface of cement or brick, both of which are very solid. The metal lath gives strength to the existing structure not made from cement or bricks.
Step Three; Apply Stone Veneer
The first stone veneer will go on the header which is located just above the opening to the fireplace. Spray the back of each veneer piece with water, then slather with mortar, much like putting butter on a piece of bread.
Draw a “furrow” or a shallow groove down the approx. center of each piece to allow for more air to be worked out. Firmly press the veneer in place and slightly wiggle it so it can attach firmly to the “scratch coat”. From here you move to the sides of the fireplace opening and on to the sides of the surround. Finally, you move onto the “field “of the fireplace, working from the top down, as mentioned earlier.
When all of the veneer pieces are in place, clean any joints with a striking tool, and sweep the dust and particles away with a whisk broom. Allow the mortar and attached veneer to cure overnight.
In the morning you are ready to finely polish the finishing on your new veneer fireplace. As your final touch, grout any joints and let them sit for an hour. After this, you can shape the joints and steel brush them for a completely natural look.
Your New Fireplace Reface with Stone Veneer
By this time you have almost become an expert in applying stone veneer. Stone veneer is very strong and should last you a lifetime while bringing up the value of your house with the updated fireplace. Many years of enjoyment are yours with the refacing of your fireplace with stone veneer.