Fieldstones are a common stone, and were often used in farm cottages and in building walls, and for this reason they have become very popular fireplace stones. Fireplaces can be made almost entirely out of the fieldstone material, and they can also have ornamental facings made out of the stone, to replicate the appearance of traditional farm buildings. For anyone wishing to install a fieldstone fireplace, but not sure where to begin, following a few simple steps can help you to install a fireplace which will look attractive for many years to come.
Step 1 - Measuring the Fireplace
The first thing to be done is to estimate the amount of stones needed for the job in hand. If you are fitting a veneer, you will only need stone for the surface appearance, and don't need to make any significant constructions so support the fireplace. Work out how much veneer you will need by measuring the length of the fireplace area, and times it by the height. measure the area of the fireplace opening, and then remove this from your first calculation.
Step 2 - Preparing the Fireplace Opening
Anything in the fireplace opening, such as the mantel, or the fire itself, should be covered with a blanket or cushions covered by a dust sheet. Tape the blanket or sheet in position using duct tape. Clear all breakable ornaments from nearby shelves and tables, and move the furniture out of the way. Cover the floor with waterproof paper.
Step 3 - Preparing the Scratch Coat
Most fieldstone can be bought ready dressed, but you will still need to prepare it for mounting. Set out the metal lathe, and place fasteners such as nails every 6 inches or so. Cover the lathe in mortar, so that it is around 3/8 inch in thickness. You should then scratch the surface with wire, or a masonry scratcher. Most building codes will expect you to leave the mortar to dry for 2 days before mounting the stone.
Step 4 - Mortaring the Stone
Once the coating is ready, set out the stone, and clean if necessary. Apply the mortar to the stone, taking care to place plenty of it on the stone surface, as though you were buttering it. Too much mortar in the middle will cause the stone to slide, to be sure to add enough, but not an excessive amount.
Step 5 - Setting the Stone
For a fieldstone fireplace, you should begin at the top of the fireplace, and work your way down. Push the stone firmly against the wall where you wish it to go, and then wiggle slightly to induce the mortar to set. Push down hard enough that you get mortar squeezing out at the sides. When using fieldstones, lay the large pieces first, and then set the smaller stones around you. If you take out a stone, you will have to reapply the mortar and try again. Use a grout between the set stones, and then cover the entire fireplace in a masonry sealant.