Installing stones above a fireplace can be done easily, you just need to know what steps to take to use your time efficiently. You’ll only need a few materials and tools, and no previous experience is required. Manufactured stone has been used for years, and it was first used back in the premedieval ages in French castle fortifications. It was then used again in the Industrial Revolution, and workers have been perfecting it ever since. It even looks and feels like real stone, making it an excellent addition for every fireplace!
Tame the Wire Lath
You’ll need to make sure the metal lath is tamed, as it’s unruly and sharp, meaning it can easily cause snags. Use galvanized nails or staples to hold it in place, and put in a staple or a nail every 6 inches. There should be at least a 2-inch overlap between the sheets. Make sure the metal cups are facing up, or the mud will slide out of the lath when applied.
A building inspector will need to inspect the metal lath in some areas before the scratch coat is added. Make sure the local codes are studied, and an inspector verifies the materials, the code requirements, and the specifics. Otherwise, this will cause a legal problem and a huge headache down the road. If there’s anything you don’t want mortar on, cover it with painters tape and plastic. It’s helpful to buy a quality drop cloth to put on the floor and to prevent slipping.
Dig Grooves Into the Mortar
Putting grooves in your mortar will help form a surface that’s easier for stones to stick to. While stone veneer is often found on the outside of structures, it can also be installed inside a structure. Installing this indoors is easier than doing it outdoors, since less work and materials are needed, such as waterproofing or flashing sealants.
Make the Stones Stick
It’s important to make the stones stick by putting mortar on the back of the bricks. You’ll have to put a rough coat of mortar on the lath, which is also known as a scratch coat. Take a bag of type N mortar to create a firm consistency, and add a pigment to this mix, so it’ll match your stone’s color. Do not do this if it’s freezing outside, as antifreezing compounds can’t be added to the stone or mud, or the mortar will end up falling off.
When the mix is ready, put it on the lath with a stucco trowel. Keep this about 1-inch thick and create a smooth, flat surface for the stone to rest on. When it starts to stiffen up, use a stucco scratcher to run horizontally across the face to make the scratch coat.
Don’t Clean Up the Wet Mortar
Don’t make the mistake of cleaning up the mortar when it’s still wet, as you’ll want to wait for it to harden first. Let the scratch coat dry on its own overnight, or put the stone on when you can feel that the scratch coat is dry to the touch. It should be hard enough that no fingerprints are left when it’s touched. Use a dry brush to wipe away extra mud, and never use water to get mortar off stone veneer. If you do, you’ll have a bad stain that will not go away.
The mud needs to be damp before the stones are stacked against it. The stones should be laid out on the ground in front of the wall to make sure it looks tight and is aesthetically pleasing. This might seem like double the work, but it’s essential to making sure all the stones fit well.
How to Get Started
You’ll want to make sure you have the correct material to begin this project. Make sure to measure the area where you’ll be placing the stones, and then go to the store to see how big the stones are that you plan on buying. Calculate how many stones you’ll need based on this, so you’ll have enough. Since no one is perfect when installing something in his or her home, it’s best to overestimate.
Add on 15 percent to what you think you’ll need, so you’ll have more than enough supplies in case something breaks or you make an error. This will save you the hassle of having to stop your project and go back to the store to buy more.
Begin by putting a 1½-inch layer of mortar to an area that’s around 3 feet around any edges or openings. Start with the bottom stones, back butter them, and then press the stones into the wall firmly until some mortar comes out. A margin trowel can be used to wipe away any extra mortar. The stones can either be gapped or butted to fit tightly next to each other. The preferred method is butting them tight, so you don’t need to point or strike the seams. This will affect the overall look of the stacked stone fireplace.
Once you get to an edge where a cut needs to be made, use a tile nipper, a wet tile saw, or a masonry hammer to make the stone fit. The cuts should all have a thin layer of mortar on them to hide the cut. Anything that’s below eye level should be face down, and any cuts above eye level should be face up, so they stay hidden.
These tips will make it easy for you to install stones above your fireplace. It’s not a complicated process, but you will need to follow the proper steps. You’ll want all the stones to look tight and uniform, so the fireplace has a nice look to it. The lath should also be in place and tamed, so nothing sticks out when you’re doing the installation. When you’re ready to clean up the mortar, never do it while it’s still wet or using water, as these will ruin both the look and structure of the stones.