How to Install Limestone Fireplace Surrounds

What You'll Need
Tape measure
Wet saw
Rubber mallet
2 by 4 Lumber
Limestone slabs
Stress crack membrane
Sponges, rags, bucket

Limestone fireplace surrounds are a great way to finish off a fireplace renovation or new install. The look of the natural stone will add a lot of character to a room and draw people's attention to the beauty of the fireplace. Homeowners today are enjoying the convenience of a pre-fabricated fireplace. However, these are usually sold without any type of surround or finish to them. Limestone fireplace surrounds are perfect for finishing off these more modern fireplaces. Here are the steps to take if you want to install a limestone fireplace surround yourself.

Step 1 - Plan Your Fireplace Surround

Using a piece of graph paper and a pencil, plan out the way that you want your fireplace surround to look. You do not have to be extremely detailed at this point, but basic placement of the limestone and how far it will surround your fireplace are some considerations. Take plenty of measurements and take them to the hardware store when you buy your limestone slabs.

Step 2 - Prepare Surface

Before doing any work to the fireplace surround it must be prepared in order to receive the different materials. Clean off the different surfaces around the fireplace and dry it off completely. After the surfaces are clean you must make sure everything is level. If there are any low spots on the floor, or dips in the wall, apply some thinset to level off the surfaces.

Step 3 - Install Stress Crack Membrane

Around the fireplace you will find at least two different materials. The metal of the fireplace itself and the drywall of the wall. They both heat at different rates and can cause cracks in the thinset and limestone. A stress crack membrane will help to keep things even to eliminate the problems with the heating process.

Step 4 - Install Limestone on Hearth

The first place to start is the hearth. Start in the middle of the hearth and start to spread out a thin layer of thinset. Use a notched trowel and spread out enough to receive a couple limestone slabs. Set the limestone into the thinset and give it a little wiggle in order to create a stronger bond. Tap the limestone with a rubber mallet to get rid of any air bubbles and keep it level. Continue installing the limestone on the hearth leaving a 1/8 inch space between each slab.

Step 5 - Cut Limestone to Fit

There will be instances where you need to cut the limestone slabs. Use a wet saw with diamond blade to make each cut after careful measurements have been made.

Step 6 - Install Limestone on Wall

Using the same methods of installation of the limestone on the hearth, begin to finish the limestone fireplace surround by installing the slabs on the wall. Use lumber to brace the limestone so it does not fall before the thinset has a time to bond and set up.

Step 7 - Seal Limestone Fireplace Surround

Your surround is not finished until you grout the seams of the limestone and then seal it. Mix the grout according to directions and spread it over the surface filling all of the cracks and seams. Wipe off the excess. Allow the grout to dry and then apply the sealer. Once there are two coats on the limestone you can enjoy your work.