- Mastic (Adhesive)
- Rubber gloves
- Tile cutter
- Drop cloth (old sheet will do!)
- Angle iron (I used drywall corners)
You just need a small area (but can cover a large area) to make a big difference to your old, warn-out fireplace. I’m going to show you a way to update your fireplace for just a little bit of money, but a lot bang for your buck.
Home improvement stores and rock quarries will now sell rock facing that is a fraction of the size and cost and relatively easy to assemble on any surface (tile, drywall, wood, and even rock).
- Measure the area you would like to cover.
- Purchase rock facing (the material we used is called Desert Quartz Ledgestone Natural Stone Indoor/Outdoor Wall Tile (Common: 6-in x 12-in; Actual: 6-in x 11.87-in)
- When using tile or rock re-facing, it is recommended to purchase at least 10% overage due to the uneven nature and cuts that are needed to make to blend the pieces together.
- Purchase mastic that is recommended for the product. The product you purchase will usually recommend the proper mastic (or adhesive) that will work best with the material. I used a product called TEC 1-gallon trowel tile adhesive. It will tell you how much square footage that it will cover, so based on your measurements, you will be able to know how much you need to buy.
- Purchase a trowel that will be recommended on the mastic. The mastic we used recommended a 3/16” trowel for the application.
- Purchase a small angle-iron of some sort. I used a drywall corner. It’s not as strong as steel, but in smaller applications, it will work. This is to hold the pieces in place over the middle section of the fireplace.
Info: Since this is not an actual rock installation, you do not need to prep the area at all. If you were using real rock with a very heavy weight (that requires a heavy cement, a lot of drying time, and guards to hold the rock in place while it dries), you would need to take different precautions. A rock re-facing is lightweight and will hold over any surface. Believe me, I’ve used it on ceramic tile, painted drywall, unpainted drywall, cement backer board, etc. So far, it’s held up.
- Measure the area and cut your pieces of stone to size. Because you will want the rock to look un-uniform, you want to change up the pattern as much as possible to make it look more like real rock.
- Use the mastic by scooping it out of the container with a trowel onto the back of each piece. At first you sort of glob it on, then use your trowel to bring it to a nice, workable amount on the back. The teeth of the trowel will create lines on the back of the tile. This allows the adhesive to stick properly.
- Start at the bottom of one side of the fireplace. Place the tile onto the surface and sort of squish it on by wiggling it until you feel it really grab on. Apply the bottom piece to the other side of the fireplace.
- Clean up any mastic with the sponge that may have squeezed out or fallen on the floor.
- Repeat these steps as you move up the wall.
- When you reach the point that suspends over the opening of the fireplace, it’s best to take an angle-iron and attach it to the wall to hold the suspended rock tiles in place. Cut the iron to size and attach it to the wall with screws. You will then cover it up with rock so it disappears.
- Keep repeating the steps, now going all the way across the length (or width) of your fireplace. Keep cutting pieces to size with the tile cutter. Even though you get dirtier, I suggest a wet/dry tile cutter. When you use a wet tile cutter, you have a stream of water which cools the blade and washes away the dust. According to the experts, water is distributed on the saw blade to lessen the effects of heat and friction.
- Because this effect is to mimic a real rock fireplace, no grout is needed. If you feel there are missing gaps, you can add some of the mastic, but you shouldn’t need to do that.
Note: if you do need to use grout (a tile installation for example), you would need to let the stone/tile rest 24 hours to set up before you apply the grout. This method does not use grout, so once you are done placing the pieces, you are done! It’s still advisable to let the adhesive work it’s magic for 24 hours to make sure it’s set in stone, so to speak.
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