Brick and stone fireplaces can become an eyesore when soot and stains accumulate over the years. But upgrading the hearth can add style to a living room and also make it easier to clean.
Some refacing materials, like tile and stone slabs, can be installed directly on the existing material; others require cement boards to ensure a flat surface. The following ideas will help you give your fireplace a facelift.
A fireplace is a natural focal point in any space. So, while it can be easy to skip over the hearth when re-designing a room, it’s important that you don’t. The right tile can transform the old eyesore into a beautiful design feature that complements your overall aesthetic. Plus, tiling is a fire-safe material that can add protection from stray embers.
Tile isn’t just for bathrooms and kitchens—it can also bring a dramatic touch to your fireplace surround. If you have a brick fireplace, consider covering it with ceramic tile to modernize the look of your living room or bedroom. Brick-style tiles come in a variety of colors and designs, including geometric and herringbone patterns. Other options include mosaic tiles and mother-of-pearl-finish tiles.
If you want a more contemporary look, opt for limestone tile. It has a gorgeous sheen that can make your fireplace stand out. Or, you can go for a more traditional look with marble-style tile. Both options are flame-resistant and work well with a range of color schemes.
You can even play with tile laying patterns to create a unique look for your fireplace surround. Try herringbone or chevron pattern tile to add texture and visual interest to your space. Or, experiment with specialty tile that has a fan or fish scales, arabesque cuts, or ogees for a more artistic style.
A stone fireplace adds a touch of elegance to any room, but one that’s overly large or dark can overwhelm a space. The solution to such a problem is painting the stones — either white to neutralize the orange and brighten the room, or a pale color to fit in with the decor.
A mortar wash is another easy-to-do refacing option for stone fireplaces. Combine equal parts water and white mortar that’s formulated for wall tile. Then, use a trowel to apply the mixture in a smear pattern over your fireplace. To achieve more texture, mix the mortar to the consistency of peanut butter; for less, make it like pudding.
You can also give your stone fireplace a textured finish with a simple plaster coat. This DIY feathered concrete makeover from a handy couple looks stunning. The new look isn’t just gorgeous—it also allows them to hang a flat-screen TV over the fireplace.
If you have a modern or farmhouse-style home, consider resurfacing your fireplace with natural stone slabs instead of tiles. Installing a new hearth and surround with seamless tone slabs may take more work than simply resurfacing the firebox with tile, but it will result in a much more dramatic, finished effect. Slate, granite, quartz and soapstone are popular choices for fireplace refacing. You can find these materials at home improvement stores, and they’re fairly affordable when compared to other refacing options.
If the brick is in good shape, you may only need to resurface the hearth to give it a fresh new look. This is a project that’s perfect for the DIYer because it takes less than a weekend and costs very little.
You can use a concrete mix or stucco to create the surface, either troweled smooth or finished with texture to match the room. Both come in dry powdered mixes that you mix with water once you’re ready to apply them, and both are fairly affordable supplies for a fireplace remodel.
Before you can start applying your new concrete, be sure to tape the floor and sand down any rust or stains on the existing brick. Once the surface is clean, brush on a coat of grey tinted primer to ensure your final paint color will be as dark as you want it.
When you’re ready to start applying your new concrete, work in sections that are small enough to manage. Start by priming any areas that are already sanded and cleaned, then sand the rest of the surface again to prep it for the final coat.
If you’re resurfacing your fireplace surround, consider adding a mantel to your new space, as well. These can range from simple wood mantels to elaborate, carved and tiered options. Before you install a mantel, check the fire code requirements for how far it needs to be from the flames.
Stucco can give your fireplace a modern update and add interest to the room, but it can also help keep your energy bills low. Stucco is fire resistant and helps to keep hot air in during the winter and cool air out during the summer. It’s an easy DIY project you can complete in a weekend, and it doesn’t require any major reconstruction to the fireplace.
The first step is to clear the area around your fireplace and cover anything that you want to protect from splatters. Once you’ve cleared the area, use a wire brush to clean the existing surface and lightly sand it to roughen it up, which will help ensure a strong bond. Then, you can choose to use a stucco product that is ready-made, or you can mix concrete and sand together yourself with a bucket of water and the proper amount of stucco powder according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Stir the stucco mixture until it is smooth and a little thinner than toothpaste, then apply it to your fireplace. You can use a trowel or sprayer, but it’s important to work quickly and to be consistent to get straight lines. After applying the scratch coat, wait at least 30 minutes and then apply the final coating. Consult the product’s instructions to determine how long to wait between each coat.