How to resurface your fireplace

Click here to watch this resurfacing youtube video!
David Lamb of Embers Fireplace & Chimney in Cincinnati Ohio pictured above.

Fireplace Resurfacing

Recently, I had a customer who wanted us to resurface the front of their fireplace. As a contractor, I feel it’s important to  be honest with my personal experiences, as well as my likes and dislikes with customer before getting a fireplace resurfacing job underway.

Today, I want to offer two professional opinions about fireplace resurfacing that you may influence your decision before you redo the look of you fireplace. First I will offer an insight from Bill Hussel about the use of veneer during a resurfacing job. Bill is a very successful businessman. He is originally an engineer by education and trade and entered into the hearth industry many years ago. He has operated two fireplace and wood stove stores and also managed a multi-truck service company.

Bill’s insights follow my own personal opinion about stone-stack brick and alternatives.

Bill Hussel on resurfacing using Veneer Stone

Fireplace Resurfacing

“This is a perfect time to reface and redesign the appearance of your fireplace.”

What do you mean refacing, redesign?

In the old days, fireplace resurfacing involved going in with a small jackhammer and literally rip out the old brick work or all the old stonework. Then you’d have to have a mason put back in masonry substrate components to replace what used to be there.

Removing the old masonry brick units in preparing the wall for installation. The new installation would require a substrate or backing board, much like you would see when putting tiles onto the floor.
Veneer bricks come in a variety of sizes, patterns and colors. These here only an inch and a half thick and can be man-made or natural stone. They’re man-made from a poured mold, the natural stones are most often cut with special equipment to match sizes. They’re become extremely popular in the last 10 years.


With the advent of veneer brick or veneer stone work, backbreaking-intensive labor and expensive brick reworking is no longer mandatory in resurfacing the fireplace.

Veneer brick? What is the benefit of that?

Weight. Or rather, lack of weight. The fact is that you can go in and mount this material on drywall!

On this picture we’ve put a substrate behind it. But many manufactures don’t require any type of masonry backing, any type of foundation or support. This is because there is a much reduced weight involved here and its appearance, whether its natural or man-made is just stunning! There are so many choices – literally – there are hundreds and hundreds of choices of different masonry designs that are available to you.

One of the best websites that’s on the web right now some people know is website If you go on to that website and use a filter or search word – for example masonry stone fireplace – you will have 15,000 masonry stone fireplace designs. And that’s not an exaggeration. No, there’s there’s really that many on there and in my opinion they’re way better than if you go to Google Images. These are from professional architects and many homeowners just like you that have some very very unique designs to look at.

Clay Lamb’s personal opinion on stone stacked patterns



This more of a more full-joint that has been hand rubbed to provide for a much older appearance of the stone work installation. Notice the random sizes, much like you find on an old farm house.


The customers that recently contacted me for a fireplace resurfacing were considering a stack stoned look. However, their selection of a stack stone pattern was a little concerning. Stacked stone definitely has its place in the building construction market. But my hesitation is this: even though it looks great on a lot of buildings, I personally feel the irregular shapes and mortar joints can be a little visually distracting for a quality finish

I feel this is especially true when you’re observing up close. I feel stack stone designs of today could become be very dated in the next 10 to 20 years. To my delight, they made an alternative selection of very beautiful tile panels that will fit together extremely well!

They fit great!

One thing that I like working with this new material is that you can fill them and dress them easily, as well as put them together and seamlessly shape and mend then into other panels! This provides us the ability to achieve a beautiful color balancing of these tile panels. With a little bit of chiseling on this stone, it was really simply to make this tiles blend seamlessly.

Its very easy to cut tile and make it fit on your fireplace. Always use a wet saw when any kind of cut on tile or cultured brick or stone. You can get them at most tool rentals.


If you take out the existing bricks we install a layer of cement board over the existing cinder blocks to provide for a smooth substrate for our new material to apply to.

Mounting a Television?

Our customer wants to install a large flat screen TV onto this wall. To do this we work with their electrician on installing electrical outlets and conduit prior to doing any masonry work. You need to be cautious so not to drill too deep in the fireplace. It should be 8-inches deep. You can visually confirm this using a bright light through the fireplace, looking at the smoke chamber. Most electricians would be aware of this.

Our customer selects a beautiful granite piece for the new hearth.

One feature that is worth noting here, not only do these rounded edges look great, they are a lot less likely to chip when hit with the edge of a vacuum cleaner.

Our new granite hearth is carefully carried into the home and a bed of thin-set adhesive is installed onto both the floor and the back of the granite.

thin-set adhesive

We lay the granite cautiously in position and finish off the edges. Another hint here would be to be sure to mark off the boundaries of where the hearth is going to go so you can set it to that point. You can do this with tape or pencil markings. This is not be as hard as it may appear. You want a properly-sized notched trial that provides the plowing look pictured above.

What a mantle!

As you can see here, this customer has chosen to have us install a minimal-sized marble mantel. This was due to the large screen TVs that will be mounted on the wall after our trim work has been completed. These materials can be found at most tile and granite suppliers.

Your imagination is your own limitation. But again I recommend going to Houzz to get ideas. I have personal opinion that every home should have theme or feel to it. And that feel should be consistent throughout your home. With fireplace resurfacing, we’re primarily trying to removed the dated appearance of your fireplace and in most cases it could add value to your home.

Imagine the difference it would make to your home to have your existing fireplace transformed from a dated fireplace to a designer showcase. I feel our customer has made a great selection of materials and now so can you.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.….Educational Videos….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

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