Get fired up: inexpensive ways to update a stone fireplace

November 3, 2014

Have a stone fireplace in your home that you want to renovate? There are many unique and affordable ways to update a stone fireplace without breaking the bank.

Get fired up: inexpensive ways to update a stone fireplace

Clean and sand first

You might be surprised what a difference you can make in the look of your stone fireplace simply by washing and sanding the stones. Use a sponge, water, and a mild dish soap to clean off any built up grime and bring the stonework back to life.

If stones are scratched, you can use a low grit sandpaper on the damaged stones to gently remove the marks. Note this may make some stones stand out more than others, so you may need to lightly sand all of the stones in the fireplace to produce an even appearance.

If there are stones that absolutely must go, you can chip out the mortar, slide out the stone and find a new stone to fill the gap. Use fresh mortar to set the new stone.

Tip: While you seek out a replacement stone, prop up the gap created by the missing stone with a wooden block so the stones around the gap aren’t tempted to shift out of place.

Paint, don’t replace

Need a more dramatic stone fireplace renovation? There’s a great way to get the look of brand new stone without ever going anywhere near a chisel and mortar: paint!

Visit decorating sites or idea boards to find fireplaces you like. Then shop for paint that will help you achieve the look.

Tip: Rocks aren’t one-tone, and your paint shouldn’t be either. Choose a main paint colour and a slightly darker or lighter colour (or one of each!) to help make your paint job more realistic. After you’ve painted the fireplace stones your primary colour, use a damp rag or sponge to randomly dab your second colour choice onto the stones. Repeat with the third colour, if using.

Update your mantel

The biggest problem with your stone fireplace might not even be the fireplace itself: how’s your mantel looking? If it’s old, out-of-date (has your decor evolved into coastal modern but your glossy oak mantel keeps that part of the room rooted in the mid-'80s?), or maybe even completely absent, you might want to make the mantel the focus of your plan to renovate your stone fireplace.

If the lines of your mantel fit with your decor, you may simply need to only paint or refinish the piece. But if your mantel is completely wrong for the room or is missing altogether, take a minute to think about your style before heading out to shop. If you have a rustic or modern/eclectic style, a piece of salvaged wood might be just what you’re looking for. Also consider checking auction sites or local antique stores for period mantels if your home has a vintage vibe.

Make sure to check local building/fire codes so you ensure you hang your mantel at the regulated height.

Time to get started!

You can absolutely renovate a stone fireplace yourself and improve the look of both the fireplace and the entire room. Try one or more of these tips to achieve a beautiful new look without breaking the bank.

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