As I mentioned before we went with a faux-stone made of concrete produced by a local company (using their Ledgestone and Hackett patterns in the Fireside color) . It is patterned and colored to look like real stone and I chose this product as it allowed me more customization then the Airstone that is so popular right now.
Like I wrote before, this isn’t rocket science, but it does take time and patience in laying out the tile, as stone or faux stone, varies in color and texture. If you like putting together puzzle pieces, you’ll love this project.
The mantel beam was first sanded with 80 grit with a hand sander. Then stained with General Finishes, Java gel stain. Then sanded with 120 grit with an electric hand sander for some minor distressing. A top coat of General Finishes polyurethane was applied three times. I really liked the texture and distressing effect that came out!
The two side pillars gave enough support underneath the mantel for support there, but we also added metal brackets attached to the back of the mantel and then screwed into studs in the wall.
Before going gungho on putting up your stone, WAIT and lay it out on the floor first (if over a finished floor put down a drop cloth; this stuff leaves everything dusty and dirty). That way you have time to rearrange the pattern to exactly what you like. If you only just apply-as-you-go, your pattern will probably not be as nicely proportioned.
I didn’t get photos of how you put the screen on and the layer process so here I’m showing the work in the area above the mantel. Drywall or plywood has to provide a support for the screen and mortar.
NOTE: If this was an outside project you would also need a vapor barrier to prevent the water in the mortar from seeping into the supporting wall facade.
The screen (see “metal lathe” used to reinforce stucco) was bought at Home Depot; Lowes no longer carries it at our location. It is stapled down using a staple gun (ours is powered by a compressor).
The mortar used is “blended mortar.” When using, just mix as much mortar for wall application as you will be using within the next 30 minutes.
Here the wall has mortar applied over the screen. We let it dry for 24-48 hours before proceeding with the stone layer.
When you start putting mortar on the stone itself (not the wall) it will stiffen and harden very, very quickly! The concrete stone “sucks” it up and makes is harden quickly so have your stone cut and ready to apply before coating it with mortar due to the short working time.
When working from bottom up, you might want to cover the work you’ve already done with a protective plastic sheet to prevent clumps of mortar from falling onto your finished work.
A soft brush is used to clean off the dust and bits from the facade. This is really dusty work!
- Set up the circular saw near where you are setting up the stone. The fewer steps you have to take the better.
- You will get better at laying the stone as you go, so start your line someplace that is less obvious/noticeable.
- Use a hammer to knock of any flairs on the back of your stone if need be.
- Don’t be afraid of shaping the sides or ends of your stone to fit better; adapt the stone to your needs and look.
- This is DUSTY work! Cut the stone outside or if you must do it inside, then cover everything and seal off the room from other areas.
- Your body will be sore afterwards, especially your hands! It’s harder work then it appears so take breaks when needed and be sure to have some bath salts on hand for long, rewarding bath afterwards.
Yay! Finished except for putting on the sconces which are on order!