How To Apply Stone To Your Fireplace

You don’t have to have a lot of experience have a beautiful stone fireplace. You can purchase handcrafted stones at most home centers, or you can have some fun a collect your own natural stones. If you have areas close to your home to look for stones, choose the flattest ones that you can find.

Stone can easily be applied to any bare fireplace surface without any preparation. However, if the surface of your fireplace has been painted, you’ll need to install metal lath. Metal lath is basically a wire grid that will give the mortar something to cling to and give it more support.

Use a drill to make pilot holes about one inch deep approximately one foot apart over the entire surface. The metal lath can just be nailed into place with masonry nails. The nails should be at least 1 1/4″ long. And, you’ll have to use washers on each nail, make sure the washers are large enough to cover one of the square grids in the lath so it won’t just fall off!

If the surface of your fireplace is metal or has any metal on it, use some self tapping screws to hold the lath in place. If you’re covering the chimney on the outside of your home with stone, apply some #30 building felt or either unperforated house wrapping over any exposed wood areas. Then attach the metal lath to the surface.

To prepare a drywall or plywood surface for stone, just secure the metal lath into the wall studs with drywall screws and washers. Although it might not look like it, metal lath does have a right side. You can distinguish the correct side by tiny cups that point up, always apply the lath right side up.

Using pre-packaged mortar isn’t a good idea, you should always mix your own for a project like this. You can use either type “S” or type “N” mortar, mix two parts of the mortar with one part of sand. Add just enough water to the mixture to get a consistency that you can work with.

Apply the mortar to the wall with a large trowel and spread it until it’s approximately 1/2″ to 3/4″ of an inch thick. If your stones are slightly thick, you might want to go with the thicker layer of mortar to help hold them in place better.

It’s best if you can lay the stones out on the floor and arrange them before you start attaching them to the fireplace. By doing this you can get an idea of how it’s going to look. But, you can also see if you need to tap some of the edges off the stones or even how you want the different colored stones laid out.

The corner stones should be installed first. The rest of the stones can be installed by either starting from the bottom and working your way up or from the top and working your way down. You need to get the stones as uniform and close together as you can.

As you add each stone, use the trowel to apply about a 1/2″ thick layer to the back of the stone. As you press the stone into place, gently wiggle it around to get the proper bond. The mortar that you applied to the back of the stone should squeeze out and surround all sides of the stone.

After you’ve gotten all of your stones in place, you can use a metal or wood striking tool to remove any excess mortar from around the stones. You will need to make sure that all of the joints are sealed with mortar, you can use a small putty knife to push the excess mortar over into the joints.

The next step is to clean the mortar off all of your stones. You can use a wire brush to remove any of the loose mortar that has gotten on the surface of the stones. Just make sure you do this step before the mortar dries, once it’s dried you’re not going to be able to get it off of the stones and it will ruin the look of your fireplace.

After you’ve gotten all of the mortar off of the stones, brush the joints with a small whisk broom or other brush. This is to remove even more of the excess mortar, but you can also use the brush to sweep the mortar in the joints to smooth it out. Applying a masonry sealer to the stones is optional. But, it will make the surface much easier to clean.

If you’d like to apply stone to your exterior chimney, just follow the same steps as you would for a fireplace. These same steps can be used to apply stone around the bottom of a porch to give it a special look!