Constructing A River Rock Fireplace Constructing A River Rock Fireplace

What You'll Need
River Rocks
Mortar
Painter's Tape
Mortar Pan
Metal Lath
Masonry Saw
Nails
Hammer
Damp Cloth
Grout

A river rock fireplace can be a beautiful and attractive addition to any home, particularly one with a rustic or country cottage décor. This kind of home improvement project requires substantial work and effort on the part of the homeowner but can be well worth the sweat equity involved.

Sources of River Rock

You can find river rock in a number of places. The most obvious—though also probably the most time-consuming—is in local rivers and streams. You may be able to gather many if you live in an area with abundant creeks and streams. Before collecting, however, make sure that you will not be violating any conservancy laws.

Another source is your local home improvement center. Many large home improvement retailers have not only natural river rock stones, but also manufactured rocks. Manufactured rocks can offer greater variety in shape, color and size of stones.

Finally, local quarries may also sell river rocks for home improvement and landscaping projects. You may be able to purchase river rock from quarries by weight or by the load. In some cases, it can even be delivered to your home or building location.

Step 1 - Outline the dimensions of your mantle with painter's tape.

Step 2 - Determine where you want the mantle to extend from the wall and mark this space off with painters tape on the floor.

Step 3 - Cut the metal lath sheets to the size that will fit inside the area of the painter's tape against the wall and on the floor. The metal lath will be the base for the mortar and make the fireplace stronger and more durable.

Step 4
- Nail the metal lath to the floor and the wall. Remove the tape.

Step 5 - Mix the mortar according to the package instructions. Starting at a bottom corner, apply mortar to your first stone and put it in place.

Step 6 - At the opposite corner, apply mortar to another stone and position it. This will give you a reference point for laying the stones across the bottom and having them meet.

Step 7 - Place your first layer of stones along the bottom, applying mortar around each stone as you place it. Use your trowel to add mortar between the stones if more is needed. Smooth the mortar with your hands as necessary.

Step 8 - Build the layers of stones along the wall, always starting at one corner and moving horizontally across.

Step 9 - After you have completed building the wall of river rock, wipe away any excess mortar with the damp cloth. If any of the metal lath is visible at the top, apply a thin layer of grout to hide it.

Step 10 - Let the mortar dry for 48 hours.

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