Install a Marble Hearth and Wood Fireplace Surround Part 1

Lead Image for Install a Marble Hearth and Wood Fireplace Surround Part 1
What You'll Need
An assistant
Tape measure and pencil
Carpenter's 6-foot level
Drop cloth
Pry bar
4-inch chisel and sledgehammer
Wide broom and dustpan
Eye protection
Work gloves and safety boots
Marble slab for hearth
Leveling compound to even out floor base
Thinset adhesive
White mortar
Long-handled adhesive spreader

When you want to upgrade your fireplace, installing a marble hearth and surround will add graceful charm to your home. In Part 1, the marble floor is installed. Follow the procedure below to enhance your fireplace with a marble hearth.

Step 1: Measure the Hearth Area for Marble Covering

Measure the hearth area outside the perimeter of the firebox edge. Ensure you have a symmetrical distance on either side of the fireplace entrance so the marble hearth is aligned correctly.

Step 2: Purchase the Marble Slab and Installation Materials

Take your measurements to the building supply center where you wish to purchase the marble and all mortars and adhesives. Be sure to get the correct thinset adhesive. It does not compress under pressure and will help the marble stay level once it is laid.

Step 3: Remove all Furnishings away from the Fireplace Area

Remove all furniture to more than 10 feet away from the hearth area to prevent damage from dust, adhesives and mortar. Lay the drop cloth around the outside of the hearth area and set tools and installation materials on it.

Step 4: Remove the Existing Perimeter Hearth

With the pry bar, sledgehammer and chisel, remove the existing hearth. With assistants, carry the old hearth materials outside for disposal or cleaning and reuse.

Step 5: Clean and Level the Floor Base

Sweep away any stone dust remaining from the old hearth. Check the floor base with the carpenter's level in three directions: across the front and back, from front to rear, and on both diagonals. If the floor is badly out of level, apply a 1-inch layer of leveling compound with the spreader. Smooth it out and check that it is level. Allow the leveling compound to dry well.

Step 6: Spread a Layer of Thinset Adhesive

Use the adhesive spreader to put a 1/4 inch layer of thinset adhesive on top the leveling compound. This will help the marble adhere and keep it from sinking into the leveling compound.

man spreading adhesive on the underside of a marble flooring slab

Step 7: Create a White Mortar Bed for the Marble Slab

Pour out the white mortar to create a solid bed for the marble hearth. Spread it as evenly as possible with the adhesive spreader.

Step 8: Lift and Lay the Marble Hearth

With your strongest assistant, lift and carry the marble slab to the hearth. Lay it slowly and gently onto the white mortar, checking that it is correctly positioned horizontally, front to rear, and on the diagonal. You will only have a few moments to adjust it before the white mortar firms and fastens it in place.

Step 9: Clean up Immediately

With a damp clean cloth, wipe off any mortar, adhesive or other undesired substances on the marble slab.

Move on to Part 2, installing the surrounds. Clear away unnecessary materials and bring the required tools and materials to the hearth.