Changing the look of your brick fireplace and hearth does not have to cost thousands of dollars. Consider using the existing brick as a base to support marble, granite or stone.
Brick fireplaces and hearths are a common feature in many older homes. They provide a very rustic look. Changing the look of the fireplace doesn't necessarily mean you have to tear the entire fireplace down and start all over.
In fact the biggest mistake that home owners make is to invite a contractor over to look at the fireplace. The contractor or mason may suggest tearing out the new fireplace. That usually costs thousands of dollars. If your fireplace is functional it may not be necessary to rip it out at all.
The Look without the High Cost
We were trying to achieve a more finished look on two fireplaces in our home. Both fireplaces were made of brick and had different mantles. We also planned on inserting natural gas logs and fire screens in the fireplaces.
We refaced both fireplaces with a very nice look using Crema Marfil marble shown above. We applied the marble slabs on the fireplace surround and floor on the first fireplace. On the second one, we installed Crema Marfil 12 x 12 tiles on the fireplace hearth which ran the width of the room.
The brick on both of our fireplaces was very level. Rather than ripping it out the brick, we just used it as a based and had a marble fabricator install the pieces around the fireplace opening.
In our case, we did not buy the entire slab of marble either. To save money, we visited marble and granite fabricators and asked them about extra pieces they had. Most marble and granite fabricators have a lot of waste from bigger jobs. They store it in the hope that someone will buy a piece. In the end though, many fabricators end up trashing it.
If your fireplace surface is not completely level, you can use durock or cement board on top of it to level things out. If it is just slightly off, you can compensate for this by adding more mastic when applying the marble slabs.
In all cases, make sure that you butter both the fireplace brick and slab/tiles with mastic or thinset before applying it.
We installed 12 x 12 Crema Marfil marble on top and on the facing of hearth. When you lay out the tiles on the hearth, you'll notice that the top corner of the hearth will create a very sharp angle. It has to be dulled or polished into a bullnose. Our tile installer was able to create a bullnose very easily by a polishing tool. Now, it's possible to sit down on the hearth and there's no chance of getting cut.
As you can see in the before and after pictures, the marble slabs and tiles really transformed this basement recreation room. Good luck with your fireplace project.