How to Makeover an Existing Fireplace to look like stone using a product called AirStone.
If you have been following my blog for awhile you may recall decorating photos that I have posted about what I call the “House In My Head”. It is the house I envision as the “perfect for me” house. It isn’t high-end, big, or trendy – just a house that has all the components to fit with my personal style. The DIY project I completed for this post is getting that “house in my head” a little closer to reality.
The House In My Head – has a stone fireplace.
Photo Credits: House and Home, Pretty and Posies, HGTV
The House in my Reality – has a brick fireplace. I am doing a DIY Fireplace Makeover.
Fireplace Makeover – Before
I gave it a semi-makeover about 8 years ago by painting it white.
Back in April I was in Lowes – like I am what seems like everyday and saw a display for a new product called AirStone – OMG!!! I got so excited and had to learn more.
I watched the video on the display and smiled big time – a stone fireplace could be mine and no stone mason or special skills needed – plus I could afford it on my limited decorating budget!
AirStone Makes a DIY Fireplace Makeover on a Budget a Reality!
I gathered all the pamphlets to read when I got home. I went to the AirStone website and knew this would finally be my way to get a stone fireplace.
Fireplace Makeover – AFTER
Find out how I made the Window Sash Fireplace Screen
AirStone comes in two colors – I used Autumn Mountain. It feels like real stone, but is much lighter. It does not feel like foam or cheap versions of stone facades.
Note: When I did this fireplace over using AirStone, it was 2012 and brand new product. It was lightweight and easy to cut with a hack saw.
After AirStone was on the market for awhile, the company had many returns as the lightweight stones were breaking in the boxes in transit. So they made the stones heavier and dense which now makes them harder to cut.
For the second fireplace I did a few years after the one shown in this post, I had to use my miter saw to cut the stones. You can see and read about the second fireplace I did in this post: AirStone Fireplace & Mantel Makeover
- AirStone – You can buy AirStone at select Lowes stores. I needed 1 box of Flat Edge stones and 1 box of Corner Edge stones
- 1 tub of AirStone Adhesive
- Putty Knife
- Hack Saw with a new blade or a power miter saw with a smooth cutting blade.
- Wet Rag and warm water
1. Clean the surface that you will be applying the stones to and let dry.
2. AirStone comes in 3 different edges – Natural Edge – use where the side of the stone will be exposed. Flat and Corner stones. There are also wide stones in each box so that you can create a realistic stone facade.
3. Remove the stones from the boxes so they can acclimate to the air temperature as well as allow you to see the variety of shades in each box. You want to mix up the shades to create a realistic look. There are little bumps on the sides of some stones. Scrape them off – they are left over from the molding process.
4. Figure out your general placement. I stacked stones to see how the mix of size and color variation would look before applying them. You do not want the edges of the stones to line up – cut them with a hack saw if necessary to vary where the edges fall. I drew black lines on the photo below to show you where they should be cut.
5. For a wall installation you may not need corner stones, but for my fireplace I needed them to go around the inner edge. AirStone has a “Class A” fire rating and is safe to use around typical fireplaces.
When I got to the sides of the fireplace, I applied the corner pieces first and then added the rest of the stones to fill the sides, cutting to vary the length of each. When the front was covered, I added stones to the inside corner to make them even. You can see this in the last photo of the post.
6. When I did this fireplace the stones were made differently then they are now. Cutting the stones was as easy as cutting a crusty French baguette, but instead of a bread knife, I used a hacksaw with a new blade. This is not the case anymore, you will need a powered saw with a very sharp, smooth cutting blade.
7. Use a pencil to mark the size stone you need.
8. Cut it on the face side of the stone, not the back side. It is easy to cut.
9. For a wall installation start at the ground level and work horizontally. Make sure the first row is level, for it will be the foundation for all the rows above it. I started to do this and realized when I got to the top of the fireplace – the last stone may not fit and I wanted the top stones to be whole since this is the most visible section of the facade.
Instead, I started at the top and worked down, so the top stones would be the perfect fit. Doing it this way provided a little bit of a challenge, but I figured out how to get around it so the stones would not slip down as they dried.
10. To attach the stones – use a putty knife and a thick coat of adhesive to the back of the stone like you are icing a cupcake, not buttering bread. Then press the stone firmly onto the wall allowing adhesive to compress. If you get adhesive on a stone – use a wet rag and warm water to clean it off.
I placed all of the stones across the opening of the fireplace, then pushed them up since they did slip down a bit.
11. I added a piece of dollar store foam board cut a little larger than the firebox opening. Make sure it is a snug fit and even bows a bit so it holds up the stones while they dry.
You can see a few of the wider stones that come in each box that I added.
12. Once I got to the bottom of each side of the firebox, I used scraps of the stone to hold the last stone up until I got a few pieces of face stone cut to fit the space. (If I had started from the bottom up – this gap would have been at the top, so you can see why I installed the stone – top down. )
At the bottom – if it is not perfect – it does not matter as much.
See the links at the end of this post to see Part Two of my fireplace transformation where I show how I made over the grey hearth stone that the builder of my house never finished off and made it match the new AirStone fireplace.
This photo shows how I added stones to the inside corner edges of the firebox to make each side even and a sneak peek at the hearth makeover in progress.
Here is a link on how I painted the hearth to go with the AirStone:
For more information about AirStone, check out their site – it has many tips and videos that show just how easy and affordable it is to create a stone facade anywhere in your home.
I recently moved to a new home and made over the fireplace in the new house. You can read all about it in this post: