Choosing the Perfect Stone for your Fireplace

Key things to keep in mind with tips from Tim Carter of askthebuilder.com

So you have decided to take the leap and FINALLY cover that old brick fireplace or include a natural stone fireplace in your new home. Here are three tips to help you make the perfect fireplace stone choice, some tips from Tim Carter (a licensed contractor), and some great fireplace ideas to give you inspiration!

Combining Stone and Design for your Fireplace

Rustic, Colonial, Contemporary, Modern, Old World, Tuscan, and Log Cabin, are just a few of the different designs that you may choose for your home or space. Not only the type of natural stone veneer that you choose, but also the color, shape, and installation will create the final work of art.

Contemporary and Modern Fireplace Stone

Today’s most popular look in fireplaces is stacked stone, where natural veneer stones are stacked closely together with either no joint showing or a small recessed joint.

Stone veneer shapes used for a stacked stone look are either ledgestone, ashlar (showing a different face of the stone, normally slightly darker) or a mix of the two.

Some designers, stonemasons and homeowners break up the stacked stone with random mosaic or square pieces as accents.

“I’ve seen spectacular stone fireplaces that are 20 or more feet high, rustic stone fireplaces that have custom-carved stone-fireplace mantels and quaint stone fireplaces in modest homes. You can use flat stone, small rounded boulders or coarse volcanic rock. It’s just a matter of the style and the type of rock that matches the color scheme and feel of the room.” 

Tim Carter, askthebuilder.com

Rustic and Traditional Fireplace Stone

Classic to New England are the round fieldstones reclaimed from abandoned stone walls, and from farms and fields. These round stones are gathered then cut to approximately 1.25″ thickness to be adhered to a flat vertical surface.

Round fieldstone thin veneer gives the appearance of a fully rounded stone yet are lighter and easier to install for newly constructed fireplaces or to reface an existing brick fireplace. Below are fireplace ideas for rustic looks with both round stone and ledgestone.

What a Difference a Joint Can Make

One aspect of the installation that can have the biggest effect aesthetically is the chosen joint technique. There are three popular application types used with fireplace stone: dry-Laid or recessed joint, standard joint, and wide joint.

The color of the mortar used in the pointing processes will also dramatically effect the overall look and design. In all installations the joints should be as uniform as possible. For more information on the various joint techniques and mortar methods, visit our mortar joints page.

Dry-Laid or Recessed Mortar Joints

Dry-laid mortar joints make the stone appear to be touching at all points with hardly any seam and no mortar showing between stones. These joints are referred to as paper-thin joints. If you desire these joints, expect to pay for the extra time it takes to shape each stone exactly to each surrounding stone.

You can expect to have more waste due to trimming and should order extra stone to allow enough material for tight joints. Recessed mortar joints are 1/2″ below the face of the stone and give a nice shadow effect to the mortar joint lines.

Standard Grout Joints

Standard grout joints can be 1/4″ to 3/8″ inch in thickness for interior stone veneer and 3/4:-1 1/2″ for exterior fireplaces and chimneys, and can either be recessed 1/4″ from the face of the stone or flush with the face.

Stone edges are naturally irregular. Standard grout joints make it easier to install with a normal amount of trimming and shaping with about 15% waste.

Wide Grout Joints

Generally the most rustic fireplace look no matter the shape of the stone veneer. You’ll find 1″ wide joints on large fireplaces, and in country homes for both the fireplace and interior and exterior chimney. There is even a brushed joint look where the mortar is brushed over some of the fireplace stone veneer. Wide fireplace joints allow for less stone veneer waste.

Customize and Combine Stone Colors & Shapes to Make your Fireplace Unique

When deciding on the perfect natural stone choice to fit your space it can be difficult to find just the right blend of colors and shapes. No matter where your fireplace is located it will be the focal point for the room and the anchor of the overall design.

Sometimes a little customization is just what is needed to make the space truly your own. The best way to do this is by combining different colors and shapes of natural thin stone veneer to create your own unique work of art, whether it be a rustic fireplace, a contemporary design, a traditional ledgestone fireplace with a granite mantel or a bluestone hearth stone.

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