Refacing a Painted Brick Fireplace with Flagstone

A close up on flagstone.

Every time you look at your painted brick fireplace you begin to regret the decision to paint over the natural beauty of the brick. But there is a way to get the natural look of stone by refacing your existing fireplace with flagstone. Flagstone is a fantastic way to create a whole new look for your fireplace and room without spending a small fortune on materials and labor. You can achieve this in a relatively small number of steps.

Prepping Your Brick Fireplace for Installation

The first step in the installation process involves applying a wire mesh to the existing brick surface. This mesh can be fastened to the existing brick face using masonry or fluted nails. These nails are specially designed to penetrate masonry and mortar. However, you’ll find that it’s much easier to drive these nails home in mortar rather than the actual brick. In addition, trying to hammer in a masonry nail into a solid brick will usually result in the brick cracking. The wire mesh acts as a backing for the mortar to adhere to while also serving as an anchorage point for masonry ties. Masonry ties hold the flagstone in place.

Installing Flagstone

The next step involves selecting and installing the flagstone on your fireplace wall. There are numerous colors to choose from ranging from light tans to dark grays. You should look for a stone that is about ½” thick so as not to put too much weight on the wall. After you’ve mixed the mortar spread it over the wire mesh so that there is about 1” of mortar covering the wall. Then press the stone into the mortar mix using a level to make sure it's plumb. Repeat the process, selecting stones that will leave about 1” for a mortar joint. It’s also a good idea to fill in the gaps with mortar then use a pointing tool to clear out some of the mortar to allow for mortar joint installation. When it comes to executing the cuts you have the option of using a grinder with a masonry blade or a hammer and chisel.

Installing the Mortar Joint

After the wall has set for at least 24 hours you can begin to install the mortar joint. It’s a good idea to select a mortar color that will contrast with the flagstone. For example, a dark brown will work well for the mortar joint when a light tan flagstone was used. Use a mason trowel to install the grout between the flagstones then use a pointing tool to remove the excess grout.

Following these simple steps will revitalize your brick fireplace wall.