What You Need to Know About Refacing Your Fireplace Hearth

fireplace hearth

Refacing your fireplace hearth is an amazing way to rejuvenate and transform the look of an entire room. At the same time, the project has some complex factors you might not have thought of before you started.

To help you ensure that your refacing project can provide you with the lasting results you seek, consider the following information:

Remove the Mantle First!

The first step before starting any part of your project is getting the mantle out of the way. Removing the mantle frees up room to work around the fireplace while also eliminating the risk of damaging the relatively delicate wood with heavy stone or brick materials.

If you are going to reuse the same mantle, make sure you mark an outline around the wall, fireplace surround and floor so that you can reset it perfectly.

If you are going to replace the mantle, remember that building code requires all lath and wood framing to be at least two inches away from the opening for the firebox. You may want to give it even more clearance — 6-8 inches — so that you reduce the risk of flames spreading while giving your surround and hearth materials room to aesthetically “breathe.”

Also, remember to lay down some cardboard or plywood around the project before you start to avoid damaging your floor!

You May Be Able to Cover Up the Surround Instead of Completely Resurfacing

One of the most daunting parts of a fireplace remodel is removing the old materials. Demolishing old brick is tough work. But, luckily, you may not have to demolish anything at all! In some instances, you can simply cover up the brick surround with stone, brick or a similar material.

Just make sure your design accounts for this added thickness so that the new surround does not stick out like a sore thumb.

You Can Put Your New Hearth on a Concrete Slab

This approach requires you to demolish the existing surface where your new hearth will go, but it allows you to save money on brick, stone or whatever materials you intend to use. Make sure your slab can be deep enough to meet code. Otherwise, you may need to use Durarock or another base material that has a high enough r-value to insulate it from the heat.

Once your slab is poured and cured, it should leave the exact amount of space for your hearth thickness to clear (if it is going to be flush) plus an added 3/8 of an inch for thinset mortar. Lower the slab carefully using suction cups and a two-person team, and test the suction cups first.

If the slab wobbles, you will have to lift it out and reset the thinset to provide a more even surface.

You Can Convert to a Gas Fireplace to Simplify Your Architecture

If you are worried that your new hearth plans may not fit your fireplace’s dimensions, realize that you have the option to convert your fireplace to gas, allowing you to use your space more efficiently. Gas fireplaces also have a more controlled temperature range, allowing you to better predict which r values and dimensions you will need to bring your fireplace to code.

We hope these pointers have inspired you to re-invent your fireplace in time for the fall season. Good luck, and remember that our gas fireplaces can help make your fireplace more usable across a range of seasons.