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Steps to refacing your fireplace

The fireplace is the focal point of a room, particularly during the holidays. Giving it a facelift can make a dramatic impact in the entire space. Fortunately, resurfacing a fireplace is a project that has a high rate of return and can be done in a day or over the weekend. If your fireplace is starting to look dated, damaged or disheveled, then follow the steps below to transform drab brick into stylish stone.

Step 1 - Choosing your resurfacing material

Choosing the resurfacing material is understandably the biggest decision in the entire process. It’s important that you choose something that appeals to your aesthetic, but you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

  • Consider the décor of the entire room.
  • If you are planning on remodeling, future-proof the fireplace by making it fit the look you have planned.
  • A pattern may be better than organically stacked stone. Irregular shapes and mortar joints can distract the eye.
  • Tile panels that but right up against each other (think backsplash tile panels) could make the job go quicker.

Popular fireplace resurfacing materials include natural stone such as ledgestone, marble, granite and slate. You may choose to use a mix of materials or keep it simple and use only one. This is also the time to decide if you want to add or replace a mantle and what material will be used if you’re replacing the hearth.

Step 2 - Remove the mantle and trim

If your fireplace has a mantle or trim work this will need to be removed using a chisel to pry it from the current brick surface. If you plan to keep the mantle take your time to gently remove it to minimize damage.

Step 3 - Demo the current surface

Once you have your materials it’s time to get rid of the old fireplace surface. Remove all of the material while wearing protective eyewear and gloves. Many homeowners choose to do this part of the project to save a little money, because it doesn’t require as much skill or specialized tools.

  • Remove furniture that’s around the fireplace.
  • Cover the floors around the fireplace with blankets and/or cardboard to protect them from damage.
  • Use an angle grinder to cut away at the mortar joints.
  • Place a chisel at the cut then hit the end of the chisel with a rubber mallet to break the mortar.
  • Once the mortar is broken chunks of brick can be removed.

If you already have a slab stone surface this can be remove by wedging a pry bar between the stone and the wall. Be careful while removing the fireplace façade so that you don’t drop the material on the ground or someone’s foot. Take it slow going from top to bottom.

Step 4 - Install cement board

Now that the old material is out of the way cut cement board to fit over the fireplace cinder block. This will provide a nice, smooth surface for the new surround material. If you previously had stone or slab you should have a smooth enough surface already and can skip this step.

Step 5 - Place the new surface

Once the cement board is in place, mix up thinset according to the directions provided. Spread the thinset onto a two-foot wide section of the cement board, then use the notched edge of the trowel to create grooves in the thinset. This will help the tile or stone grip better.

Carefully place the first stone, panel or tile. If you are using tiles you’ll need to place spacers at the corners. Continue this process until the entire surface is complete. However, if you plan to replace the hearth leave the surface bare 4-6” from the bottom.

Step 6 - Replace the hearth first

If you are installing a new hearth or replacing the old one this should be done prior to completing the fireplace resurfacing.

Step 7 - Finish the rest of the surface

Once the hearth is in place finish of the rest of the surface. Allow everything to set overnight. If you are using tile or stone that is spaced apart reserve day two for grouting. You’ll need to use a heat-resistant grout that is mixed according to the directions provided.

Step 8 - Install fireplace door

To complete the new look, install fireplace doors that fit the new décor. Fireplace doors not only add a polished, finished look they also greatly improve safety. The doors can easily be installed in just a few minutes.

  • Fit the doorframe into the firebox opening.
  • Drill pilot holes into the side of the frame that go deep enough to penetrate the firebox walls.
  • Secure it in place with screws.
  • Slide the fireplace doors into place in the frame.
  • Check to make sure the doors and frame are perfectly level.

If you need materials and installation for your fireplace resurfacing project visit your local CRT Flooring Concepts location. We have a wide selection of ledgestone, granite and more at extremely affordable prices.