A fireplace remodel transforming a basic builder grade gas fireplace insert box with wood paneling, into a beautiful floor to ceiling stacked stone veneer fireplace complete with a rustic, distressed wood beam mantel.
Stacked Stone Veneer Fireplace Remodel
Planning The Fireplace Renovation
This basic gas fireplace was in need of some aesthetic help! The wood paneling look just wasn’t cutting it, and not going all of the way up to the ceiling made the whole thing look awkward! Luckily, the gas fireplace functioned properly, and didn’t have any problems. That made the goal of the remodel very simple. It just needed to look better. WAY BETTER!
Since we’re fairly experienced DIY’ers (checkout our other projects here), we decided to take on the remodel ourselves, and not hire it out.
We started coming up with a plan and decided to remove the cheap wood paneling and frame it up to the ceiling to give it an authentic floor to ceiling look. Stone veneer siding was selected to achieve the stacked stone look without breaking the bank.
Additionally, we knew the fireplace needed a big bold distressed wood beam mantle as the final touch!
Choosing The Stone
Stone was our #1 choice because we loved the look. After doing some research, we decided to try to find a cultured stone veneer product that we liked the look of. ‘Cultured Stone’ is the industry standard term which means faux, manufactured, or non-natural.
We were open to natural stone products as well, but at around twice the price, it would be a tough sell.
Stone veneer siding is designed to be used as a facade. Common uses are: on a fireplace, or as exterior siding. Stone veneer siding is non-load bearing. Stacked Stone is the style of stone veneer that we liked most. It looks like a bunch of small stones are stacked on top of each other, which is where it gets the name.
The next day, we were off to the local brick, block and tile store to see all the options in person! After looking at what seemed like a thousand different samples, we found a winner!
Step 1: Demo
The first step was to remove all of the wood paneling and dry wall, stripping the fireplace down to the original framing. Whoever installed the fireplace did it in a rather unconventional way. The sides and top were covered with sheetrock, while the front only was wood paneling.
Step 2: Framing To the Ceiling
To achieve a more authentic wood burning fireplace look, the fireplace needed to go floor to ceiling, giving it a dramatic effect. The fireplace was already fully functional with natural gas piping and exhaust venting outside so the floor to ceiling feature was added strictly for looks.
The framing was done with 2″ x 4″ studs. After carefully measuring and marking where the boards needed to go, we used a framing nail gun to install the boards. We made sure to fasten the boards to studs in the wall, as well as to the floor joists in the ceiling above (it’s a two story house).
Step 3: Installing A Floating Rustic Mantel
Next, we installed the DIY distressed wood beam mantel. Installing the mantel BEFORE installing cement board made achieving the ‘floating’ look really easy. 6″ long wood lag bolts hold the mantel in place, from the backside. We were able to reach through the wood frame, and bolt the mantel to the 2×4 framing from the inside so that all of the fastening hardware was 100% hidden!
The wood beam mantel was made from a brand new 4″ x 10″ board that we distressed and stained. For more information on the mantel, see the full blog post: DIY Distressed Wood Beam Mantle
Step 4: Installing Cement Board
Once the framing was complete, it was time to install the cement board. Cement board is a thin layer of concrete made with fiberglass mesh. It is used is used under masonry to provide a firm and even surface to adhere stone or tile.
There’s several brands of cement board and they are all similar. You should be able to find cement board at any local hardware/lumber store – we ended up going with USG Durock® Cement Board because it was available locally.
Installing cement board is pretty easy and painless. To make cuts, you can scar the board with a utility blade and then break break it in a straight line. Then hold it in place, and use cement board screws to fasten in place.
Step 5: Installing Stone Veneer Siding
Once the USG Durock® Cement Board was in place and the floating mantle was hung, it was time for the fun part: applying the mortar! Fun might be a stretch, but if you mix your mortar to the correct thickness, this step doesn’t have to be too hard.
Before installing the stone, a scratch coat must be installed over the cement board. A scratch coat is a thin layer of mortar to give the stone something to grip onto. Once the scratch coat was applied, we let it dry for about an hour before installing any stone.
After the first layer of mortar had dried for an hour, it was time to start applying the stones. The stones we ended up choosing came in 3 different sizes – 6″, 12″ and 18″ sections as well as corner pieces. This made it easy to breakup the pattern to ensure that our seams didn’t line up. It was a lot like putting together a puzzle. To cut the stones, we used a 4.5″ diamond cutting wheel on a handheld angle grinder.
One by one, we applied a layer of mortar to the back of a stone and smooshed it up against the partially dry scratch coat.
Applying pressure, and firmly holding each stone in place for a few seconds ensured that they set up nicely and adhered properly to the cement board and mortar.
We started from the bottom working our way up. That way, each layer had a stone underneath to rest on as the mortar dried, helping the stones to stay in place.
The process was pretty time consuming and ended up taking a little longer than expected. The ‘weekend project’ ended up rolling over into the next week and the following weekend, but we LOVE how it turned out!
Stacked Stone Fireplace – After Pictures!
After a few weekends of work, we finally installed the last piece of stone and jumped for joy that this project was officially finished! It was a labor-intensive DIY project, but in the end it was so worth it! The finished stacked stone veneer fireplace makeover gives a completely different feel to the room and totally transforms the space. I am obsessed!
Checkout the other home updates we’ve done so far in my Project Gallery!