Top decisions when building a stone fireplace

When deciding on a stone fireplace there are several decisions you need to make from the type of stone cladding to incorporating design elements such as a hearth. Here, we look at the top considerations when building a stone fireplace.

Decide between a natural or manufactured stone cladding

One of the first decisions you need to make when building a stone fireplace is whether to choose a natural or manufactured veneer.

The main advantage of using natural stone in this application is the aesthetic value it adds to the space. It is also an efficient material due to its heat retention and durability.

The advantage of choosing a manufactured stone is that it is a relatively lightweight material and doesn’t need a structural substrate. Depending on the quality, a man-made stone can also be a less expensive option to purchase and install.

Find out more about the differences between natural and manufactured stone here.

Choose a style of stone cladding

There is a wide range of stone cladding options to choose from depending on the aesthetic you are wanting to achieve. These will vary in the format, texture, colour palette and of course, quality.

If you are designing a contemporary fireplace, you may want to consider a square edged tile such as Bluestone or the narrow profile of Linear Walling™. For a classic and textural design, Random Ashlar or a dry stone like Jindera may be more suitable.

Determine whether you wish to include a mantel

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A mantel can offer a classic or modern aesthetic to your fireplace as seen here in this design by Noek Design

Before you commnece building a stone fireplace, consider whether or not you wnat to finish it off with a mantel.

While mantels are often associated with traditional fireplaces, they can also be a beautiful feature of a modern designed fireplace. Stick to a classic aesthetic and install a large, reclaimed timber mantel. Opt for a more contemporary look by installing a piece of thin profiled timber or create a mantel using the stone cladding.

Decide on whether to add a hearth

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A hearth can be of the same material or a complementary material like used in this fireplace by Austin Wells

A hearth is another classic element of a stone fireplace. Although not necessary, a hearth can add to the grandeur of a stone fireplace in a similar way a mantel dresses a fireplace. Depending on your design, a hearth can also be functional, providing additional seating or storage.

If you’ve decided on a hearth, before you start building a stone fireplace, ensure the stone type you’ve chosen has capping or pieces that will coordinate with the cladding. If you are opting for manufactured stone, ensure you assess how these man-made hearthstone pieces look alongside your stone veneer. Unfortunately, some can have a fake appearance, so shopping around may be worthwhile.

You can also choose to use an entirely different material such as concrete, timber or a complementary stone to enhance the look of your fireplace. Whatever material you choose, ensure it is suitable for the fireplace application and easy to maintain.

Choose the right grout joint technique

Whether you’re creating a stone feature wall, a garden retaining wall or building a stone fireplace, grout joints and colour can have a big impact on the overall finish.

There are several times of grout techniques used in a fireplace application from a recessed joint and dry-laid to a standard or wide joint. There are also a variety of grout colours that can be applied to complement the natural tonal variations of the stone or to create contrast.

Regardless of the technique and colour you choose, you’ll want your joints to be as uniform as possible. Both your stone mason and the supplier can help you decide on the best grout joint technique for your individual project.

For more inspiration and advice regarding fireplaces, visit our Learning Library