I have a before and after fireplace mantel makeover transformation to show you. One that I am super excited to share with you.
Do you remember the post where I asked you what I should do with the top molding on a hutch top that I was discarding?
You are all so creative and gave me so many great ideas. After lots of thought about what I should do… this is what I did with it…..
… I created a floating mantel and placed it on a newly transformed fireplace wall that used to be brick and is now stacked stone. Both the mantel and the stone have completely changed the room. No more brick wall.
Here is what the what the fireplace looked like BEFORE:
An all brick wall and hearth with an opening for wood storage over on the left.
I completed the makeover about 3 weeks ago.
It is one of the biggest projects I have taken on in a long time. It took me five dawn-to-dusk days to get it completed. It was one of those projects that is all-consuming. I lost 4 pounds that week since it was a very physical job :-)
I wasn’t going to tackle the project until the fall, but Angie’s List contacted me and asked me if I had a fireplace mantel that needed updating and if I did, would I like to make it over so I could enter a contest where I could win $1000. That was all the incentive I needed to get moving and get the project done.
My mantel makeover stemmed from an old dining room hutch. I was ready to discard it, but before I did, noticed the crown molding top could be removed, and that it looked a lot like a mantel.
Mantel Build Out
First, we created a raised area — with three layers of two‐by‐fours — for the stone. We made four vertical rows of two‐by‐fours and then added horizontal studs in the center for extra support. Once the studs were in place, we covered them with plywood and then AirStone. We used a countersink drill bit so the screws sat flush.
We used ¼-inch-by-2½-inch blue masonry screws to attach the first layer of two-by-fours to the brick. To ensure these studs were secure, we used several screws for each stud.
If you’re copying this method, be sure to leave enough room between the fireplace opening and the studs on either side for the thickness of the AirStone. You’ll want the stone to meet with the edge of the brick when it’s in place.
Once the first layer of two-by-fours is secure, we used 2½-inch wood screws to attach the second and third layer of two-by-fours. Be sure to mark where screws are placed so you know where not to place the screws for the next layer of two-by-fours.
We created six columns of two-by-fours, each with three layers. Then covered with plywood, but it is better to use firesafe Hardie Backer boards, attaching with 2-inch wood screws.
We removed the back of the mantel to make hanging it easier. It was screwed on, but we also added an angle iron on each side to make sure it was secure once we put it back together.
Since we planned for the mantel to float on top of the stone, we created a spacer behind the mantel to account for the thickness of the stone. We cut a pine board to size (about 2 inches smaller on all sides) and attached it. Then drilled holes in the back of the mantel and attached that.
We cut two pine boards to fit the underside and top of the mantel. Notice you can’t see the spacer behind the mantel, so there is room to place stone behind it. This way you don’t need to place stone behind the entire mantel, just the ends.
Then we primed the plywood with latex primer and let it dry.
If using plywood, cover the sections around the fireplace opening with thin sheet metal, attach with nails or screws. Then the area is ready to apply AirStone.
How to Apply AirStone
Applying AirStone is not hard, but does take time. I used a miter saw and a tile saw blade to cut the stones. I set up a work table on the deck outside my house and used a mask and protective eyewear.
AirStone is approved to use around fireplaces when the stone is 18 inches away from the flames. All plywood/sheetrock around the fireplace must be totally covered with the stone for safety.
I used the calculator on AirStone’s website to determine how many boxes of stone I needed. The stones come in three different shapes — flat, natural edge and corner. I used flat and corner, as well as exterior adhesive since I was applying the stones over plywood.
If applying vertical planks over brick on either side of the fireplace, you’ll need to add these before putting the AirStone on so that the stone goes over the plank to create a nice finished edge where the wall and stone meet.
1. Allow AirStone to acclimate to the temperature in the house before laying it. It expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations.
2. Lay out the stones on the floor so you can see all the color variations. Space them out evenly as you build the fireplace front.
3. I wanted a keystone look above the opening of the fireplace and attached the largest corner stones first. I applied the adhesive to the back of each stone and while it dried, I created a brace with two-by-fours so the stones would not slip while drying.
I had to cut flat stones to fit on the underside of these stones to make sure all the plywood was completely covered.
4. Then I started on the bottom of one side and built up from there, checking with a level after each row.
5. When I got to the mantel, I slid the stones behind the mantel as far as they would go (against the spacer). At the ceiling line, I had to cut the stone into thin pieces to fit the remaining space.
6. I primed and painted the front of the brick hearth and the plywood planks I added over the brick. I used Liquid Nails to attach the planks to the brick.
AirStone cannot be used on the hearth, so I left the top of the hearth alone. I am still searching for slate in the right thickness to place on top of the brick hearth eventually.
With a few accessories and some living greenery and flowers, it all came together beautifully.
Total Cost: $1,460