Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love

Among the many project we have going on both in reality and in my head, is the revamping of our 80s red brick blah fireplace to updated stacked stone. It's not 100% done, by any means, but it's close. I still have to do some more scraping of the old mortar on the black fireplace metal front. Then paint it up with some high-temp paint. Doors are in need of revamp - perhaps I'll just take them out entirely and put up a black iron screen (Pottery Barn has me drooling over their options - maybe I can I find a cheaper version elsewhere). I also have some drywall repair to do on the sides and finally, a simple boxy wood mantel in a dark stain. So, yeah, we're about 70% there at this point.

Like most tract houses since 1980-ish, the fireplace is nothing more than a hole in the wall, with a prefabricated fireplace unit that fits into the space. All surrounding stuff is just slapped up against the drywall. In the two houses I've owned, all three fireplaces have been this genre. And I've noticed it in other people's houses as well. Makes updating simple - though it also means that those cheapy prefab units are really good for burning gas, and not wood.

The blah before:


For the demo, the Husband's buddy from his old job came and helped us out. He's always lending a hand with our DIY projects - which is great. We decided to send him a Swiss-made pressure cooker for all his help (he's a foodie).



At the end it looked like this:


The arrival of the new piano is what kicked our asses into gear. I wanted to get this thing demoed and prepped before it arrived so the dust would be minimized. So 8am Labor Day morning, I was doing this:


Fun with Durock (i.e. concrete backerboard)

But I am going to give you a little tip here. Don't go all willy-nilly into setting the stone before you finish fixing up the surrounding walls. I got all excited about creating the new surround and didn't think about how it would be a whole lot easier to patch the drywall and paint the scratched up black fireplace BEFORE rather than AFTER. So now I'm stuck fixing it up after, and it's going to be more of a pain in the butt.







Already much better right? I think the next time I post about the fireplace it'll be when it's totally done, mantle and everything.

In case you are curious about tools and materials and such, we used 3 hearth stones, and 2 boxes of stone veneer made my El Dorado Stone. Their products are nationally distributed - you can find it almost anywhere in the US. Cost was less than $200 including a 94 pound bag of tinted stone veneer mortar. I used a cold chisel and baby sledge hammer to do any small "cuts" to the stone - which I tried to avoid doing unless I had no other options. Generally, I was attempting to fit different options like a puzzle, but sometimes, there just isn't a match and you have to trim at stone down. I got two hand trowels - one is the a standard trowel using for mixing and scooping. The other was a pointing trowel which proved to be extremely useful for applying and cleaning up mortar, since it has that little pointy part. The one piece that was sort of MacGyver-ish was a metal strut that we used to span across the sides to support the stone at the top. I'm not sure what people normally do here but we had a leftover sheet metal l-shaped strut that I believe is normally used in counter top installation. We trimmed it up a bit with sheet metal snippers and a jigsaw. I let the first row on the strut dry overnight so that it would be strong enough to support the rest of the stones above.

When all it done with this fireplace project, it will have cost around $200-250 and it was totally worth it!


  1. Waaay worth it!

    I really love the stacked stone! It is retro in a really really good way!

    I can't wait to see it all done...just in time for your Christmas garland!!! That I know you will hurry and put up Christmas day! :)

  2. So beautiful!

    My brother just had his "fire box" redone like this with the stacked stone...very similar. Its is gorgeous and your will be, too.

    I continue to be so impressed with how handy you are.

  3. Incredible! I have the ugliest brick fireplace IN THE WORLD. Want to come fix 'er up for me? Oh, wait, never mind, I'm selling my house.


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