How to Install a Stone Hearth and Fireplace Surround Part 1

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Sketch paper and pencil
Drop cloth
Chisel, hammer and pry bar
Eye goggles
Work gloves and steel-toed boots
Broom, dustpan and trash bag
Painter's tape
Carpenter's level, 72 inches long
3 pieces of 2x4 clean lumber
Leveling compound
Stone slabs
Slab mortar
Point mortar
Mortar spreader
Trowel and putty knife

When installing a new fireplace or renovating your existing one, a stone hearth and wood surround will lend a rugged, casual beauty to your room. The following directions for Part 1 outline the installation of the stone hearth, including all required tools and materials.

Step 1: Measure the Floor Area for the Stone Hearth

Carefully measure all the dimensions of the stone hearth, including its length, width, depth and diagonals. Plot an arrangement of stone slabs on a piece of sketch paper.

Step 2: Obtain the Stone Slabs and Slab Base Mortar

Take your diagram and measurements with you to the stone supplier to get suitable stone slabs, slab mortar and point mortar to complement or contrast with the stone color.

Step 3: Clear the Room around the Fireplace

Move all furnishings away from the existing fireplace hearth, to a distance of 10 feet or more. Lay a drop cloth on the floor beyond the hearth to protect the flooring in the rest of the room.

Step 4: Dig out the Existing Hearth

Using the hammer, chisel and pry bar, break up the existing outer hearth and remove it from the room. Wear eye protection, work gloves and steel-toed safety boots while performing this task to prevent injury to yourself.

Step 5: Sweep out the New Hearth Area

Clear away all debris from the old hearth and tape off the area for the new stone hearth with painter's tape. The new hearth will surround the existing fireplace on three sides if it is built into a wall. It will completely surround a freestanding fireplace or wood stove.

Step 6: Level the Floor Base

Level the floor base only if it is noticeably uneven. Spread a 1/2 inch layer of leveling compound over the entire hearth floor, and allow it to set overnight. Check the floor base for levelness once it has dried.

Step 7: Create the Slab Mortar Bed for the Stones

Set three pieces of 2x4 lumber, cut to the width and depth of the new hearth, on the painter's tape lines marking the edge of the stone slab bed. Pour in slab mortar to a depth of 1 inch. Use the trowel to create a feathered surface to help the stone slabs adhere to the slab mortar. Place the stone slabs in the slab mortar immediately in the arrangement you have drawn.

Step 8: Finish the Stone Hearth with Point Mortar

When the slab mortar is firm but not completely dry, dig a thin trench around each stone slab with the pointed end of the trowel. Using the putty knife, fill these shallow trenches with point mortar in the color you selected. Allow ample time for the slab and point mortar to dry and harden, securing the stone slabs in place. Remove the retaining boards.

Prepare for Part 2, building the fireplace surround.