Replacing a Refractory Panel in a Fireplace

What You'll Need
Refractory panels
Refractory cement

Replacing refractory panels in a fireplace can become necessary as the fireplace ages. Refractory panels are easy to obtain, so once it becomes clear that any panels in your fireplace are not working efficiently, it is simply a matter of finding the right ones to fit your firebox, and installing them as though they were new. For those who are keen to replace the refractory parts in their fireplace, there are a few simple steps to take in order to make sure that you get the best out of your brand new panel.

Step 1 - Removing the Old Panel

Refractory panels are usually stuck onto the back of the firebox with a mixture of screws and refractory cement, so getting one out of the fireplace is sometimes a difficult task. The best thing to do is to carefully remove all of the screws that you can, and then place your chisel behind the edge of the panel, and tap it loose. Removing screws can also help you to loosen the panel so that it is easier to free. Take care to make sure that your chisel does not damage any of the other panels, or the bricks of the fireplace.

Step 2 - Cleaning the Fireplace

Before you install the new panel it is a good idea to make sure that the area is thoroughly clean. Brush down the firebox with a stiff hand brush, and then wipe the back of the panel area with a cloth. Keep your chisel to hand, in case you find any large pieces of refractory cement that cannot be moved, but generally all that is needed is a quick wipe clean with a cloth and some household liquid soap, to remove the worst of the dust and ash.

Step 3 - Installing the Refractory Panel

Lay the panel on the floor beside the fireplace, and cover it with a light layer of refractory cement, available from all hardware and home improvement stores. You should add a thicker layer to the place where the panel is going, so that there will be a firm bond between the two layers of cement. Place the panel into the center of the area you have just covered, and press down hard upon the panel for a few seconds. You should see lumps of the cement being squeezed out the sides, but this can be wiped away before it hardens.

Step 4 - Finishing the Installation

Once you have the panel fixed to the back of the firebox with the cement, you can use your drill to insert screws into the holes at the edge, in order to keep it firmly in place. One screw per side is usually all that is necessary to keep the panel from detaching in the next few days, but they also add to the traditional look of a fireplace, and many people choose to use large metal screws, and to leave them in once the panel is set. Wipe away any additional cement forced through by the screwing then leave to dry.