I have ALWAYS wanted a FIREPLACE! Every home we have owned I have tried to figure out a way we could put a fireplace in, but we always ended up moving before I could make my dreams a reality.
So when we built this house I was determined to GET A FIREPLACE! But of course other expenses came up and the fireplace sadly had to go. I DID have them put in a gas line so I could live my dream someday….. and happily that someday is today! So check it out! Here is our DIY fireplace!
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We started by taking the tv off the wall and pulling the carpet up. Don’t frame over your carpet!
Building the Bottom:
Once we were ready to start building, we framed up the bottom that the fireplace would be supported on. We wanted the fireplace to be off the ground with a hearth that we could sit on.
The dimensions of our bottom were 7′ long x 2.5′ wide x 18″ high.
To build the bottom it’s basically like building 3 outer mini wood stud walls that create the perimeter of your box.
This video will teach you how to build a Wood Stud Wall if you don’t know how.
You will also need support directly underneath where the fireplace will be, so we added 4 mini walls that would be directly underneath the fireplace to support it.
We then nailed all the mini walls together and anchored everything to the floor and to the outer house wall.
We installed the venting by following the directions in the manual that came with the fireplace. We bought our venting from Hearth & Home. I was floored how much venting costs! It was around $550 just for this small amount of venting. We did try to find it less expensive elsewhere and Hearth & Home was definitely the cheapest. Plus their customer service was superb! They were happy to give us advice and lead us along each step of the way, even though they were not installing it. – And no, I’m not getting paid to say that.
Note: You have to have the dual vent venting in order to go directly out the wall. It’s definitely still cheaper than having to build a chimney, so I still think this is awesome stuff.
We then cut a hole through our sheet rock and stucco. (How did I not take a picture of a hole in our house?!?!)
Our fireplace manual told us how big to make the hole.
We initially wanted to take the venting directly up and out from the fireplace, but of course there was a stud right where we needed our venting to go out! So you can see we had to turn our venting so we could go between the studs.
Once the venting is in, be sure to caulk it according to your fireplace instruction manual with the recommended caulk.
Installing the Gas Line & Remote:
Once we had it vented, we hired a guy to come and set up the gas line and remote to the fireplace and get it all going. The cost was around $100.
I literally started dancing once the guys got it turned on! They thought I was CraZy!!
If you understand my obsession with fire and HOW LONG I’ve wanted a fireplace, you’d understand my dancing. I grew up with a wood burning stove and it has been my dream to flick a switch and BAM have a fire! So cool! I’m living the dream!!!!!
Then we started framing. Most instructions will tell you to complete the framing before you put the fireplace in, but we thought it safer to frame around our actual fireplace to make sure the fireplace fit just as it should. It worked out great!
Our fireplace manual said there needed to be a 36″ clearance above the fireplace. Meaning we would need NON-COMBUSTIBLE product to surround the fireplace up to 36″ above it. So we framed our fireplace in and then up above it 36″. Your manual will have diagrams that will help and guide you.
We also used metal brackets to join some of the joists together to strengthen them. You can get those the same place you buy your wood. We bought all our studs and brackets from Home Depot.
If you’re putting your tv above your fireplace, be sure to frame in a section for the tv so you can attach your tv bracket to studs.
Framing the Mantel:
To break the architecture up and achieve our shelf on our mantel, we framed the shiplap portion smaller than the lower half of the fireplace, leaving a 12″ shelf for the mantel. Notice how the ship lap section isn’t as wide as the bottom section.
Next we installed shiplap on the top. If you haven’t ever done shiplap, it’s so easy! Check out this tutorial. Not quite as easy 18′ up in the air on ladders, but a million times easier than trying to put stone all the way to the top.
We also recommend a nail gun for this part. Especially if you’re high up in the air! Can you imagine hammering it all in?! Ha! We’ve had this nail gun for a few years now and it’s been awesome!
Next we used this hardie backer board all around our “combustible zone.” To cut it you score it with a utility knife and then fold it over along the score line. We then screwed it into our studs, using the screw hole guides that are on the backer board.
We’re getting closer!!!!
Since we already framed in the mantel, now all we needed to do was cut the MDF board and nail it on. To give it character and a nice finished look, we trimmed the mantel all the way around the top bottom and sides, and added a couple of vertical pieces of trim in the front for the craftsmen look. (See picture above) Trim makes all the difference!!
For the top shelf of the mantel we again used MDF board to complete the shelf. We also added the crown molding to the top of the mantel, and the MDF trim that goes around the shiplap. Here’s a finished picture of the top of the mantel. It took 3 different pieces of MDF to fill it all in, but once you seal the seams you can’t even tell.
Once your shelf and molding are on it’s time to caulk and paint. Start by sealing all the nail holes, board seams, and other imperfections. We used this sealant.
Once this is done it’s time to paint the mantel. We have a paint sprayer that I ABSOLUTELY love and have used on pretty much anything I could get my hands on for over a year now. It gives that professional finished look you can really only get with a sprayer.
So we taped up the walls and windows like crazy and went to work. Here is close up of the mantel to give you a better idea of how we built it and how the paint finish turned out. We used a semi-gloss paint that is the same color as the trim in our house.
Installing the Stone:
Time for the stone work! We got a really good deal on our stone. I saw an ad for a stone company that was selling some of their left overs from projects they had, so we got them for half the price they normally would sell for! I’m sure if you called around to stone companies, they would have extras they’d be willing to sell you too.
We watched a ton of tutorials on YouTube on how to install cultured stone (or faux stone). We recommend doing the same. Some tips we learned……
You do not need to use chicken wire or a water barrier as most tutorials will show you. That is for when you are installing your stone OUTSIDE. This was definitely an inside project.
Keeping the stone straight and in place can be a challenge! The stone is very heavy, (even though it’s technically not real stone, it is cement!) and even if you spend lots of money on a good mortar it will still have the tendency to slide down! (Believe us we tried!) So we got high-tech and used pencils! Tons, and tons of pencils! We would insert them in between the stones until the stone was set up enough to not slide down. Our stone had a weathered edge so the edges weren’t perfectly flat, if you use a stacked stone that is flat on the sides, you won’t have to worry about using pencils. We started at the bottom by placing a few corner pieces on each side and then worked inward & upwards.
After talking to several stone companies we learned that they recommend using a type S Mortar Mix, to adhere the stone. (We originally had some friends recommend using a different mortar that they used when they tiled their fireplace, and although it worked great for tile, it didn’t help much with the heavy stone. Not to mention it was over $20/bag!) We definitely recommend keeping it simple & getting it from from Home Depot for $5.50 a bag! I’m sure Lowe’s would also sell this stuff. What’s cool about this is you can use it as the grout too. We needed 1 bag for our project.
You can cut the stone with any diamond blade saw. We used this angle grinder, which worked awesome! This set also comes with a diamond blade.
FYI: We did try using our tile saw to cut the stone and that DID NOT work!
And prepare for your home to look like a war zone during this project. =)
The bottom is done! Wahoo!!
Here’a a slightly closer look. The next step is to put your hearthstones on, as the stone above will be resting on them.
We knew we would have to cut some hearthstone to get it to fit just right. So to figure out our hearthstone lengths we laid our first piece down and centered it with the center of the fireplace. We were then able to fit a full hearthstone on each side of the centered hearthstone. So we had 3 full pieces. (See picture below.) We then measured how much was left on the sides and cut those stones to fit.
On the other sides that went back towards the wall, we were able to get 1 full piece in, and had a tiny piece right by the wall. Again to cut these you use a diamond blade. Be careful with them!! They can crack! -Not speaking from experience or anything, but we recommend buying 1 extra hearthstone. ;-). We bought our hearthstones from Hearth & Home.
Time to finish the rest of the stone! Again starting with the bottom corner pieces and working in and up. For this section we laid 4 corner stones at a time, on each side, then filled in the space between, added more corner stones, filled in the space between, and so on, until we got to the top. When we started getting near the top we looked for pieces that would fit against the mantel and put those in and then worked down. This way we didn’t have to do cuts where you have to cut the stone in half length wise.
We actually did the entire top stone section in 1 Saturday. It about killed us (and we have 4 young kids so that definitely bought into our time), but we did it! We were pretty stoked with the way it turned out!
Neil’s seriously a RockStar!!!!!
And just for fun one more before and after.
Almost hard to believe it’s the same room!
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