Building a stone fireplace sounds daunting due to the heaviness of the materials involved. However, following these steps, a well prepared do-it-yourself enthusiast can create a stylish finish. You will need to buy or hire the following tools and materials.
- Diamond tipped saw (to hire)
- Measuring tape
- Mortar mix
- Masonry trowel
Step 1 – Safety First
The safety issues here relate to weight and fireproofing. Stone fireplaces can weigh up to 6 or 7 tons, so if you are installing a prefabricated (cast stone) or hand carved (natural stone) fireplace, the installation is best left to the manufacturer. If you are constructing the stone fireplace yourself, it is still advisable to seek assistance from a friend.
Aside from its decorative function, the purpose of the fireplace and hearth is to protect your home from the fire itself. Accordingly, if you build the fireplace in such a way that it cracks, flames which should have disappeared up the chimney may escape onto the walls.
Step 2 – Measure Up and Design
Measure the bare fireplace carefully to ensure that you buy enough materials to complete the job. If you are creating a design yourself, keep it simple to reduce opportunities for making mistakes.
Step 3 – Size the Stone
If possible, persuade the stone merchant to cut the stone to size, as he will have better quality tools for the job than you will be able to hire. Also, he will be experienced with cutting stone on a daily basis and will ensure an even finish.
If you have to cut the stone yourself, use a saw with a diamond tipped blade. These can be hired from most tool hire outlets.
Step 4 – Use Appropriate Mortar
It is essential that you use mortar that is appropriate for task. Make up the mix strictly in accordance with the instructions on the pack. Correctly mixed mortar will be of a similar consistency to mustard. Assemble the fireplace in accordance with the design you have chosen, taking care to apply the mortar to the sides of the stone pieces so that it will not show.
Step 5 – Check for Cracks
Once the mortar has set, check for cracks, and seal if appropriate. Remember that if the fireplace cracks and displaces the firebricks, the flames will not be following their prescribed path.