Stacked Stone Fireplace Remodel | Installing Stone Veneer

by Ashley

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

before image of a gas fireplace in an ugly wood box frame

Before the 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.

DIY Fireplace Makeover

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).

DIY Fireplace Makeover

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.


Fireplace remodel with durock cement board and mantel installed

fireplace remodel with cement board installed over studs

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!

Installing stacked stone veneer on a fireplace

installing stone veneer on a fireplace for a remodel

stacked stone gas fireplace with the stone veneer half installed

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!

After the stacked stone fireplace renovation is completed with stone veneer

Stone veneer fireplace after picture

DIY stacked stone veneer fireplace remodel

Checkout the other home updates we’ve done so far in my Project Gallery!

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Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen April 5, 2017 - 6:41 pm

Holy cow! That original fireplace was really unfortunate ?. I’m loving the new version though! And PS, I’m super excited to see what else you have in store for your blog!

Ashley April 6, 2017 - 6:24 pm

I know right!? It was the worst! Thank you so much for your kind words and support! So glad you stopped by Kelsie!

Marisa April 5, 2017 - 7:14 pm

This looks amazing! Love the blog as well, congrats on the launch!

Joyfully Growing April 6, 2017 - 6:25 pm

Thank you so much Marisa!! It was quite the challenging project, but I love the way it turned out 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and for all the love!

Jade April 5, 2017 - 11:23 pm

So glad you are blogging this Ashley! I love DIY projects and keeping up with how you guys are doing!

Ashley April 6, 2017 - 6:30 pm

Hi Jade!! Thanks so much for checking it out 🙂 One of the reasons I wanted to start a blog was so that friends and family could keep up with us! Can’t wait to see you guys in July!

Kate April 6, 2017 - 10:54 pm

What a difference! It’s beautiful. I’m sure you walk by it every day and smile 🙂 Well done!


Ashley April 10, 2017 - 5:18 pm

Thank you Kate! Yes, it was so worth it!

Megan April 7, 2017 - 12:17 am

Your fireplace looks absolutely AMAZING!!! I love the transformation! And by the way, your blog is so pretty! Congrats on the launch. 🙂


Ashley April 10, 2017 - 5:19 pm

Thanks Megan!!

Erica Summers April 7, 2017 - 1:42 pm

Wow!! VERY labor intensive but what a difference! Based on the pics it looks like it makes the ceilings feel so much higher. I would LOVE a fireplace in our space like that

Ashley April 10, 2017 - 5:22 pm

It was such a long and difficult project, but yes so so worth it! You’ll have to come check it out in person someday 😉

Lisa - myoklahomafarmhouse April 13, 2017 - 11:50 pm

Ashley, this looks amazzzzing. Wow. Love it so much!

Ashley April 14, 2017 - 11:16 am

Thank you so much!

Debbie November 20, 2018 - 2:22 am

Absolutely Stunning!!! We are in the process of redoing our fireplace as well. We are having a hard time deciding on which stone to use….. What stone did you use. All we have ssen is the individual stones. Thanks in advance for you time!

Ashley November 21, 2018 - 2:00 pm

We had a hard time deciding too, but I love what we ended up choosing! They come in big sections which made it really easy to install. I can’t imagine doing individual stones! We got ours from a local brick and stone supplier, but the brand is called Eldorado Stone. Hope that helps!

Rebecca Konze October 21, 2019 - 4:06 am

Could you please tell me what color or name of stone veneer that you chose? I absolutely love the colors and it is exactly what I have been looking for to redo my brick fireplace.

Ashley October 24, 2019 - 12:43 pm

Thanks so much Rebecca! The brand of stone we used is Eldorado Stone in the color Nantucket!

Gary January 5, 2019 - 12:27 pm

Having difficulty finding a 4×10 in my area. Big box hardwares don’t carry this size. Looks great BTW.

Ashley January 10, 2019 - 4:38 pm

We got ours from the local lumbar yard, I would recommend calling around the local building supply and lumbar yard stores in your area. They usually have a pretty good variety when it comes to odd dimensions.

Lori McIntyre May 25, 2019 - 5:33 pm

This looks amazing! Looking at making our own mantle too. How did you actually attach the mantle to the frame/wall?

Ashley May 28, 2019 - 3:50 pm

Since my husband had to frame the entire fireplace before adding the stacked stone, he was able to secure the wood beam right to the framing using lag-bolts drilled through the back of the frame.

Colby June 17, 2019 - 7:16 pm

I’m currently in the material acquiring stage of a complete fireplace build and would love to know the name of the stone veneer you used. I feel like we’ve looked at a million samples but yours is the exact look my wife is wanting.

Ashley June 18, 2019 - 5:03 pm

The brand is Eldorado Stone in the color Nantucket!

Winter July 12, 2019 - 7:58 am

Wow!! This look amazing!! ? where did you get that clock as well? Looking for one to go in our living room space.

Ashley July 12, 2019 - 10:30 am

Thanks so much! It’s from Kohl’s! Here’s the exact link:

Michael B. February 15, 2020 - 12:53 pm

Gorgeous! I come from a family of brick layers and stone masons..just started my own business in it. Appreciate seeing stuff like this

Ashley April 3, 2020 - 2:29 pm

Wow very cool, thanks for reading!


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