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Fireplace Makeover: Demolition and Veneer Preparation

Before refacing the fireplace can begin, the existing hearth must be removed. Also, the fireplace must have a rough, porous surface for the veneer to bond to.

More in Remodeling

  • Time

    Day

  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Prep the Area

Begin by cleaning out your fireboxes using a broom and hand brush or shop vacuum and trash bags (Image 1). Protect the floor around the hearth with a drop cloth or tarp (Image 2).

Step 2: Demolish the Hearth

After the fireboxes are cleaned, demolish the existing tile hearth. Using your chisel, stone hammer or chipping hammer, and safety glasses; break an inside grouted joint of one of the tiles (Image 1). Don’t begin with a joint directly against the wood; the chipping hammer could damage the wood.

Break the first tile with the chipping or stone hammer and chisel out the pieces. Once the first tile is up, surrounding tiles should pop easily by applying pressure with the chisel and hammer to the underside of the tiles (Image 2).

Be careful when demolishing tile or masonry around wood. Break up the tile or masonry and then gently pull out the pieces to avoid damaging the wood.

Do not break up the tile beyond the face of the fireplace, where the hearth stone will fit.

Step 3: Create a Porous Surface

After demolishing the hearth, move on to the legs and header. Thinset and veneer will not adhere to smooth tile or painted surfaces, so create a rougher, porous surface for the thinset to bond to. You can use a grinder with a diamond blade to remove the paint on the brick legs and header.

create porous surface

Step 4: Remove the Hearth and Paint the Firebox

If you are unable to remove your hearth in one piece, remove any trim that might make setting the hearth difficult (Image 1). Sharp wood chisels and chipping hammers will work to remove the trim without splitting it.

Clean up the hearth to get rid of any dust in the firebox and then paint the firebox black with high heat black stove paint (Image 2). This will make a sooty firebox uniform in color and bring focus to the stone after it is set. Open the damper and use a mask when spraying the firebox.

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