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Old 12-14-2009, 12:41 PM   #1
troll5501
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Fireplace Surround Refacing Advice

Hi, new here and new to tiling. I'm preparing to reface our gas fireplace with some natural stone "tiles". I have a few questions and I'm looking for any advice or suggestions on my plan so far.

I removed the old prefab wooden mantle and some green marble pieces that were just glued to the wall and fireplace. Here's a picture of what I'm working with:

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Here's the 55cm x 15cm tile I'm planning to use. Corner pieces are also available. It's approx 1" thick.

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I'd like to frame out the new surround slightly, maybe 3 to 6" from the wall. Looking at using large black granite tile for the hearth and mantle. The blue tape on the wall is roughly the size I'm looking at for the facing. The room is 16x20x9 so I want it to fit the room and not look too small.

1. Due to the restrictions on the proximity of combustibles, it seems like the preferred method of framing is steel studs covered by Durock or similar. Is this correct?

2. I'm not planning to move the fireplace out, so the fireplace will not be flush with the front of the stone. Are there any restrictions or suggestions on having a gas FP recessed with respect to the facing? I don't want it to look funny, so is my plan to frame out 3 to 6" OK, not enough, or too much?

3. Since it will be recessed, I'm thinking about using a row of smaller square tiles around the fireplace edge flush with the wall before the surround extends out into the room.

4. Do I need a steel lintel to support this natural stone over the fireplace opening? If so, I'm wondering how to hide it since these stones stack on top of each other and there is no gap for grout. Would I have to notch out the back of a stone on each side to allow the lintel to hide behind them? Or could I use fasteners to attach the lintel to the studs so it doesn't have to extend past the opening on the sides?

Thanks in advance for everyone's help on this. Before I go too far, I want to make sure I'm on the right track!
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:51 PM   #2
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If you have access to steel studs, then you can box the entire area, including the mantle, with steel studs covered by 1/2" backerboard. Make sure everything is well tied into the wall for support. The stones will be mortared to the backerboard. You won't need a lintel, but you will need a temporary ledger over the opening.

Around the opening, make the smaller tiles around the opening cover a distance as wide as the stonework extends from the face of the firebox. If you are using 1" thick stones over a box that extends 2 inches from the wall, the tiles should cover a space about 3" wide on the sides and over the top of the opening. This keeps the stone work from getting too hot and doesn't block the view of the firebox so much.
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:49 AM   #3
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Careful how you proceed

Use caution going forward with this project. I have built and remodelled over 40 fireplaces in the past 5 years. The one underlying point is that they all are designed an act different.

The US and Canada have different specs for the same product. Each fireplace will have a non combustible zone - this usually is 10" - 22" above your fireplace top.

Steel studs can be used where needed and we us them all the time. Concrete board is our preferred backer material. Instead of using a lentil we use a small 3/4" angle iron if supporting a lot of weight. It is easy to temp support the tiles until the thinset sets up and then they will not need any extra support. It doesn't take much time to install the 3/4" angle iron and we cut a small channel out of the bottom course so it can lip over and hide it.

Download and read your manual from your fireplace. You will find the model and serial number on a lighting instruction sheet located on the bottom of your fireplace behind those grills.

There is also restriction on how much forward you can build out. If you wanted to come forward 6" I'm guessing that you will need about 12"-18" of flat vertical above the top of the fireplace before you come out. This is a guess!!! Check the codes in your area and in your manual. If you change how your fireplace draws air and circulates air you can have a situtation where you over heat your unit. In back framing one unit we failed to read a line of text that said 'Not" to frame off this section - and we did! This cause the unit to overheat and we hade to take it down and start from scratch. We only blocked a small air channel and this shut down the whole unit. CHeck Check Check. An run the fireplace for a couple of days after just to be safe.

Good Luck.

Last edited by johnfrwhipple; 12-15-2009 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:56 AM   #4
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Thanks for your feedback. I did some research on the clearances for this model fireplace and here is what I found:

For *combustible* materials:
- 1/2" from sides
- 3-1/2" from top

Also it says "The minimum clearance to a perpendicular wall extending past the face of the fireplace is one inch" and "Only non-combustible materials may be used to cover the black fireplace front [the metal edges on the front]."

There are mantle height/depth restrictions but I'm not sure if it applies to all projections or just combustible ones. It says: "The following diagram shows the minimum vertical and corresponding maximum horizontal dimensions of fireplace mantels or other combustible projections above the top front edge of the fireplace"

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So it seems like my plan is probably OK, but I'd like some more opinions or interpretations of these restrictions with respect to my plan. Since I'm not going to use any combustible materials, do you think I'm OK especially if I follow bbcamp's advice to keep the small tile width around the opening the same as the distance the stone extends outward from the wall? That should keep me in compliance with the mantle restrictions shown above.

Some additional info from the manual:

Combustible materials may be brought up to the specified clearances on the side and top front edges of the fireplace, but MUST NEVER overlap onto the front face. The joints between the finished wall and the fireplace top and sides can only be sealed with a 300
F. (149 C) minimum sealant.
WARNING - WHEN FINISHING THE FIREPLACE, NEVER OBSTRUCT OR MODIFY THE AIR INLET/OUTLET GRILLES IN ANY MANNER.
Install optional marble and brass trim surround kits as desired. Marble, brass, brick, tile, or other non-combustible materials can be used to cover up the gap between the sheet rock and the fireplace.

Thanks everyone!!
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Old 01-02-2011, 01:26 PM   #5
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Making some progress

I'm finally back to this project after straightening the wall that was very uneven and the fireplace that was installed crooked. Now I'm looking for some advice regarding the Durock and stone installation.

First, a few pics:

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I've done the framing with 18ga steel studs but the pan-head screw heads stick up about 3/16" so I'm not sure how to attach the Durock so it's flush with the studs. Do I need to "carve out" the back of the Durock at each screw head?

Also, would you guys recommend lathe and scratch coat with mortar (there are some stone veneer mixes that I've seen) or thinset directly to the Durock? The instructions with the stone say thinset but I'm wondering if that's good enough for these stone "tiles" since they are at least 1" thick and fairly heavy.

I want to do this right and not cut any corners.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:12 PM   #6
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Bryan, I'm not sure I'd worry about those screws. Your stone is irregular enough to hide any waviness in the backerboard. However, if you wanted to, you could countersink the back side of the backerboard with a masonry drill bit.

Quote:
The instructions with the stone say thinset...
Good enough for me! Use spacers (wooden wedges, tile spacers, chips of stone, etc. Anything handy will do.) to support the stone from the floor or the stone below until the thinset sets. It'll be fine.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:01 PM   #7
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Hi bryan

is your finished floor all ready in??

or is that the sub floor in pics?

couple of tips:
cover your stud with cement board and use thinset for the stack slate stone

at the under side of the opening
gauge down and up from there as cutting the stone along its length is tricky
try work it so it works on full pieces or cut at floor and at the top mantle height.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:58 PM   #8
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Thanks guys, it sounds like I'm on the right track using thinset directly on the Durock (rough side out I believe). No need for lath at all?

Bob, I like your idea of using a masonry bit at the screw locations to help the board sit flat! I'll give it a shot.

Quote:
is your finished floor all ready in??
John, that's the subfloor you see in the picture. Instead of tile I'll be using custom-cut marble slabs for the mantle, hearth, and the area around the fireplace opening. As you suggested, I have been trying to design this so the area above the opening is based on the height of 3 stone tiles, so the only lengthwise cutting will be at the floor.

Which leads me to the question of where to start and in what order do I go? I was thinking I'd get the mantle and hearth installed first, and then work from the top down with the stone so there is no gap between the mantle and the stone veneer (a gap there would be very noticeable since it's near eye-level and I can't predict the exact thickness of thinset or adhesive that will be under the mantle and hearth). Then cut the stone to fit at the floor/hearth. Comments?

As for the underside of the opening, I'm not sure yet how to finish that...maybe some regular slate tiles?
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:17 AM   #9
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Starting from the top down will be tricky, considering the stone will want to slide down or tip out and fall. You might want to dry lay the stone on the floor to see how much tweaking you'll have to do to get things to line up. Remember that the gap between the stone and hearth and mantle is filled with mortar (unless your instructions say to caulk), so some mortar joint is to be expected. Even dry stack stone has some gaps and irregularities.
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Old 01-03-2011, 09:19 AM   #10
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If you install a temporary ledger at the height of the bottom row of tiles just above the firebox opening, then you can start with the top rows. Something like the pic below, but sturdier to take the larger weight.
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Old 01-03-2011, 02:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Starting from the top down will be tricky, considering the stone will want to slide down or tip out and fall.
OK, so is it difficult because of the thinset? Some other threads I've read have suggested working from the top down but that was with lath/scratch and mortar.

I can start from the bottom as long as I measure and plan everything carefully. Should I have a mortar gap at the bottom between the stone and the hearth or can I just start with the stone sitting directly on the marble?
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Old 01-03-2011, 02:11 PM   #12
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You'll need a 1/8" gap between the wall tile and the hearth tile.

If you build a ledger as suggested, you can start with the top layer. Let that cure and use blue tape to hold the successive rows of tile until you get enough in to be self supporting. Hard plastic spacers will be your friend.
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:50 PM   #13
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hi
if you want just use a couple of nails tacked in to hold


i use tile spikes to keep things going level with the stack stone

can't believe i dont have any pics to post up

since i have probably a few 1000 sq of this stuff

i aslo put in a bit of mortar dye to colour the thinset
or you could use the white stuff and color with a grout

try not get any on the face when laying and
WIPE OFF WITH A MOIST SPONGE!!


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Old 01-11-2011, 06:01 PM   #14
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The Durock is installed except for the top (see photo). Next step is the marble for the hearth/mantle/surround and then I'll be ready to install the stacked stone.

Just to recap, these are 1" to 1.5" thick stacked stone veneer "tiles" that weigh about 10 lbs each and will be installed using a dry stack method.

Any recommendations on a thinset? I was considering Laticrete 254 or Ardex X 9 but I can't find any information about max temperature ratings or heat resistance. After running the fireplace for awhile, the bottom edge of the Durock above the center of the fireplace measured 130 to 140 degrees. Is this temp something to be concerned about?

I found this tech bulletin from Mapei regarding thin set near heat sources:

www.mapei.us/pdf/TechBulletins/HeatSources_EA.pdf

and they recommend one with calcium aluminate (their Ultraflex RS) when tiling next to a heat source, or their Ultraflex 3 (which has tricalcium aluminate) for areas subject to moderate temperatures (not too hot to be touched). Some other forum members mentioned using Ultraflex 2 for fireplaces.

I'm not sure what to use, but now I'm leaning toward Mapei since they at least provided some information on this. What do you think??

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Old 01-21-2011, 12:22 PM   #15
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I called Laticrete's technical services number and asked about the best thinset for this application. The guy I spoke to was very brief over the phone but said the Multipurpose would be fine. Per some other posts, it seems that the Multipurpose Pro (available at Lowe's) is a re-branded Laticrete 253 Gold, so now I'm leaning toward that just because it's available locally.

Does this seem like a reasonable choice?
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