3 Steps to Create a Natural Stone Fireplace
Photo courtesy of Delta Stone Products.
Fall is the perfect time of year to focus on the fireplace. A fire takes the chill out of the autumn air, and a mantel provides a centerpiece for fall and winter holiday décor. Get ready for the season by giving your fireplace a new look with natural stone.
“Placing natural stone on a fireplace surround without question makes it spectacular,” says Laura Grandlienard, owner of ROCKin’teriors, a stone fabrication and installation facility located in Raleigh, North Carolina. “You have an array of options and unbelievable choices.”
Here are three steps to create the perfect natural stone fireplace for your home.
Step One: Choose the Right Stone
Natural stone is an ideal choice for a fireplace. With many options available, it works well with any home design. Grandlienard recommends marble, limestone, granite, quartzite, onyx, or slate, all of which offer advantages over other materials.
“Natural stone is beautiful and it can withstand heat and scratching. It’s also stain resistant,” she says. “It offers an array of choices, all in different styles. We’re doing a lot of marble surrounds right now, which has a classic elegance that can look modern or traditional.”
A natural stone fireplace can complement other stone finishes in your home, says Buddy Ontra, owner of Ontra Stone, a natural stone fabricator in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Customers can choose the same stone as their kitchen countertop material, for example, to provide a cohesive feeling especially if the rooms are connected.
A fireplace made from full bed veneer or natural thin stone veneer will have a textured finish and earthy feel, while a fireplace made from a single slab will have a more streamlined, contemporary look.
Step Two: Choose Your Design
Your fireplace design will depend on the structure of your room, as well as on building codes in your town and whether you are using a wood burning or gas fireplace.
“The first question to ask is whether or not the floor is rated for full bed depth stone or thin veneer,” says Bryce Harding, sales manager for Delta Stone Products, a stone fabricator located in Heber City, Utah. “If it’s a slab on grade home and you’ve got concrete underneath, either one is fine. If the fireplace is on the second floor or if you have a basement, you have to make sure the joists are rated for full depth stone.”
“Different towns have different codes,” says Ontra. “In Connecticut the standard code for a wood-burning fireplace is usually that there needs to be a fireproof material that extends eight inches on each side, twelve inches on the top, and twenty inches on the hearth. Around a gas fireplace, those codes don’t always apply. With gas inserts you can sometimes raise fireplace off of the floor with no hearth for a unique contemporary look.”
Be sure to do research into the building requirements in your area. Your builder and fabricator can help you with any questions you may have.
Step Three: Choose the Right Fabricator and Installer
Finding the right person to complete your project will depend on its complexity.
“For a classic three- or four-piece fireplace, a tile installer can often do it,” says Ontra. “But if you’re talking about going floor to ceiling with a mantel incorporated in the slab, you need someone who can consider the mechanics for the design to make sure it’s properly anchored.”
Do your research, and ask plenty of questions. Has your fabricator been accredited by the Natural Stone Institute? Has your stone mason been licensed by the Mason Contractors Association of America? Have they completed projects like what you are hoping to have done, and have their customers been satisfied? These are all things to consider before choosing a fabricator and installer.
Harding recommends asking for project photos, while Grandlienard suggests looking at online reviews to determine the quality of the fabricator. She notes that it is important to find a fabricator who can work with the design you have in mind: “Your design outlook will impact finding the right fabricator. You want to give a fabricator a job they can do.”
A beautiful fireplace can become the hub of your home, where you gather with family and friends. Make sure to take time to make the right choices so you can enjoy your investment for decades to come.