A fireplace is the focal point of any room. Is yours stained, outdated, or falling to pieces? Did you know you don’t have to tear down a fireplace to give it a new look? Refacing a fireplace is a great option that can save you a lot of money while giving your fireplace a complete makeover.
What does refacing entail? What materials can you use? Can you do it yourself, or do you need a professional to do it? You will find the answer to those questions in this article.
Evaluate the Situation
First, you need to evaluate your fireplace’s condition. Is it still in good working order? Does it in need of repairs? Does it need just a little spruce up or a complete makeover?
If the fireplace is in bad shape, you might want to consider adding an insert to it. Inserts are less expensive than redoing the whole hearth. A professional can help you find the best insert to fit your fireplace.
If your fireplace needs just a few repairs, you should consult a professional. Make sure the repairs are correctly made with materials that will keep their integrity at high temperatures.
If the fireplace is in good working order and you want to change its outward look, this is where refacing comes in. Depending on the extent of work to be done, you might want to do it yourself, or hire a professional. What you decide is up to you, and how handy you are with construction work.
Know the Rules
Before making any modifications to your fireplace facing, contact your local building authorities to learn about fire codes and regulations. Some building materials, like wood, might be restricted to a certain distance.
Choose the Right Material
There are many materials to choose from when refacing a fireplace.
The least expensive is to paint the existing fireplace. Other inexpensive options are drywall, ceramic or porcelain tiles, stucco, concrete, or veneered stones. If the price is not an issue, you can use stones like quartz, granite, and marble, or exotic wood panels.
We strongly recommend to avoid the use of wood to reface a fireplace.
While many might not be fans of painting bricks, with the right color and setting, paint can give a fresh, modern look to your fireplace, and costs next to nothing.
Drywall, Stucco or Concrete
Stucco, drywall, and concrete are inexpensive materials that can usually be attached directly to the existing fireplace, which brings down the cost of the refacing considerably and makes for a simple solution.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles
Tiles are a common material used in refacing fireplaces, as you can find them in almost any style, design, and color that you want. Its price range can also fit any budget. It gives your fireplace a sleek, modern look.
Refacing your fireplace with wood would give the room a rustic, traditional look. Wood is available in a wide price range, from reclaimed wood to exotic essences, which can accommodate any budget. But as wood is a combustible material, we strongly recommend not use it at all to reface a fireplace.
Masonry veneers are made to look like bricks or stones while being a lot thinner and lighter than the real thing. The difference between veneers and real rock or bricks is so minimal that veneers are a material of choice when refacing a fireplace. Using veneers cuts the cost while keeping that authentic look.
Quartz, granite, marble, and slate are just a few of the stones that can be used to reface a fireplace. While they are “the real deal,” they have a hefty price tag tied to them. If the price is not an issue, and you want authentic materials of the highest quality, stones are the way to go.
Refacing your fireplace can be easy or complicated, depending on various factors. If the existing facing is in bad shape, with crumbling bricks or loose tiles, it’s best to disassemble it before refacing. If you’re planning to change the size of the facing, for example, go from a small facing to a floor-to-ceiling look, it’s also best to disassemble the existing one first. The materials are chosen for refacing your fireplace also have an impact on the installation complexity.
Veneers can be installed directly over the existing masonry with veneer mortar.
Tiles and stones need a very flat surface to attach. You can install them directly over fiber cement boards if you have the right mortar for the type of tile or stone that you’re using. You can also skim the surface flat with mortar before installing the new facing.
One thing to remember when installing a new facing over an old one: clean the old surface first.
Here again, do not use wood framing when refacing a fireplace. Rather, it is much safer to use steel studs and fiber cement boards.
Will you put a mantel over your fireplace? That all depends on you and your style. Those going for a modern look often skip the mantel. If you want a rustic look, then a mantel will complement your new fireplace facing.
Remember that a wood mantel needs to respect fire codes, so be sure to check with the local authorities.
If your old fireplace has a beautiful mantel, you can reuse it when refacing. Remove it and install it over your new refacing material.
Make sure the mantel is installed correctly with the right reinforcements, so it won’t come crashing down.
When working on their fireplace, people often tend to spruce up the surrounding area also. It can be as simple as getting a new log holder and fire screen, or as complex as adding built-in bookcases each side of the fireplace.
Whatever improvements you do, one thing is for sure, refacing your fireplace adds value to your home.
Now that refacing is no longer a mystery to you, you can get your project underway and revamp your fireplace before winter. You’ll then have a warm and cozy room with a beautiful fireplace to come home to on cold winter nights.