Monday, March 5, 2012

You've Got One Weekend and $180...

Some people Spring clean, we Spring improve.  I don't know what's gotten into us lately--maybe it's the cabin fever that has got us begging for a project--but in three weeks, we've:
  1. Added shelf liner to all the cabinets
  2. Added hardware to the cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom
  3. Manicured the front lawn
  4. Added four yards of barkdust to the front lawn
  5. And finished our fireplace project
We bought our house in December and as beautiful as I thought it was, I had one thing on my mind that I swore would make all the difference: stoning the fireplace to the ceiling.

I was inspired by this picture that was in an ad in the Mountain Living magazine:


I was convinced that if I stoned the fireplace to the ceiling, it would: make the fireplace the central point of the great room, show off the beautiful leaded glass windows, and give my house that rustic mountain feel.  I was right. Two days, lots of dust, and $180 later, and my fireplace project is complete.

But every project has a story and this one is no different.  Our problems began over a year ago, when we decided to do this project.  What's the first thing you need to complete a stone project? Stone.  But since half of the fireplace was already completed, we had to find the stone to match.  No where in the builder's records was there a single reference to type of rock used, nor was there a spare block of it anywhere to be found.  I scoured the Home Depot, Willamette name it.  But when I'd get there (equipped with a photo of our fireplace in hand), they ALL looked like the right stone.

Our break came when we were enjoying cocktails on the deck one day and our neighbors were also outside and we began talking.  Turns out their son was the builder of our house, AND they happened to have a box of the rock in their garage.  But then came the bad news.  When we started calling around to find someone who carried that manufacturer's stone (Rogue River Rock), we were informed the manufacturing facility went out of business and no longer makes that stone.

So I started calling around to see if anyone had a stockpile of that stone anywhere in within 40 miles of our house.  I stumbled across the number for a mason who said he thought he saw some of that stone in the boneyard at Cement Products Manufacturing in Redmond, Oregon.  Sure enough, we headed down there and they guy at the desk happened to have about seven boxes of rock corner pieces.  The good news was, he was willing to sell it for 50 percent off.  He recommended we use a mason blade on our miter saw and cut off the corners to puzzle piece the blocks together.  But what choice do we have...they had the rock, and they offered at 50 percent off.  So, that's exactly what we did.

How to Stone a Fireplace with Cement Ledgestone (con't):

1. Prep the area by covering any fixtures, mantels, or other surfaces.  You can mount the brick/stone directly on drywall or plywood, so no prep work required on that.

2. Remove any molding from the ceiling.  My husband and I argued about whether or not to keep the molding in tact, but I won after convincing him that you want the fireplace to look like it goes all the way up and through the ceiling, even though it's just an illusion.  Again, I was right.  We found a dremel tool with a blade key to cutting off the molding.

3. Now it's time to add the mesh screen.  This gives the morter and stone something to "grab" onto.  You will need tin snips and gloves to work with this is extremely sharp!

Bend it over the area that you will be stoning, and then nail into place. Tip: We used drywall lock screws to hold the mesh in place.  Worked like a dream.

4. Measure your area and count your stones to make sure you have enough BEFORE you start.  Then, create a mock up of the pattern on the floor.  This is helpful in a variety of ways:
  • You can see the pattern and tweak any inconsistancies before mounting the stones.
  • You can see if you have enough stone.
  • You can precut your pieces to fit.
  • It will reduce the number of errors.
4. Mix your mortar.  This is KEY!  My husband was almost to tears when the first blocks would not stick.  But he's used to doing tile projects, not stones.  Stones require a "peanut butter" consistency of mortar, and a lot of it!  He started with the directions on the bag, but ended up adding a ton of additional water, until it was moist, but not quite sloppy.

Once your mortar is mixed (you can just use a shovel or trowel), put a liberal amount on a small portion of the mesh on the wall, then add a giant glob to the stone itself.  Place the stone on the mesh, and press and wiggle until firm.  A bit of mortar should glob out the ends.  Clean this with your trowel.  Work horizontal, not vertical, from corner to corner; first left corner to right, then work the next row from right corner to left. 

5. Let dry for 12 hours or so, and then go through an clean up mortar globs with your trowel.  Give a good dusting or suck out the dust with a vacuum and enjoy!

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1 comment:

  1. Outstanding. What a difference! What's next?