An old, ugly fireplace gets a complete budget friendly makeover. Come get the tutorial for this DIY Concrete Fireplace Makeover!
This post has been a long time coming. We completely redid our fireplace last fall and I never actually shared the tutorial. I intended to wait a little while to make sure everything held up well, which I’m happy to report it’s held up fantastic! However, I didn’t necessarily intend to wait a whole year! I’ll skip the small talk and get straight to the tutorial for you! But first let’s take a look at how the fireplace started out so you can get a better idea for how we accomplished this trendy concrete look!
Brick Fireplace BEFORE
One of the biggest issues I had with this fireplace was the lack of symmetry. The random beam on one side. It just seriously messed with what OCD I do have. I remember a lot of people were sad I was covering up the original brick, but it wasn’t pretty brick. In fact I had a very knowledgeable reader tell me it was in fact construction brick and was never meant to be seen. The mortar was horrible and the brick was stained. Plus I’ve always wanted a concrete fireplace so I went for it! Now, let’s talk about how I got it to this…
Brick Fireplace AFTER
How to DIY a Concrete Fireplace
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Supplies for a concrete fireplace makeover:
- Ardex Feather Finish
- Cement Board
- Cement Board Screws
- Impact Driver
- Utility Knife
- Corner Bead
- Hammer Drill
- Brick Anchors
- 1/4″ Masonry Drill Bit
- Cement Board Mesh Tape
- Drywall Tray
- Drywall Knife
- Bucket for Mixing Concrete
- Nail Gun
- Grouting Sponge
Framing out a fireplace for a faux concrete finish
Cleaning is always the number one thing when you start projects, therefore you want to make sure your surfaces start off clean! After that we started the framing. We wanted to center up the mantel and hide the beam. We also wanted the fireplace to sit flush up against the built-ins. The framing will really depend on your specific situation. Just make sure your framing allows for the additional thickness of your cement board. But this is where you determine the shape of your fireplace. I wanted a smooth front with a ledge for the mantel. We used our brick anchors to attach the 2×4’s to the brick.
Framing for Shiplap over Brick Fireplace
After we got the framing in place for the concrete portion of the fireplace we moved in to the top section where I wanted vertical shiplap. Our brick wasn’t level so you’ll see we had to use a vertical shim to get everything to be placed correctly. Then we attached horizontal board across the brick to give us something to nail the shiplap into. Again, using the brick anchors. We also installed several board where I would typically hang anything to give us a nice sturdy option.
After framing is in place attach the shiplap with a finish nailer. Fill any holes and sand as necessary. The most difficult part of installing the shiplap is deciding how you want to wrap the corners. You can cut the length at a 45, or you can just trim off the lip of the shiplap and have a smooth edge. It depends on the depth of your fireplace, you can also use a piece of wood on the side and have the shiplap meet up against it.
Painting Shiplap Above a Fireplace
This step could really be at the end, but I was impatient and trying to decide on a color so I went ahead and rolled on a coat.
Install Cement Board on Framing
Next up we will begin installing the cement board. Begin by cutting each piece to size using a utility knife to score and snap the board. Install the cement board to cover all surfaces. Don’t worry about the corners being perfect, we will be adding corner bead to that! There is usually an edge to certain sides of the cement board that taper off making the joints easier to hide, so place those accordingly
Cement board is attached to the framing with specific screws. Make sure you are using the proper length for the cement board you choose.
Add Mesh Tape and Corner Bead to Cement Board
Now it’s time to hide those seams. Using the mesh tape meant specifically for cement board, apply it directly over all seams.
After the tape is in place, cover all corners with the metal corner bead and attach with the same screws you used for attaching the cement board to the framing.
Begin Applying Ardex Feather Finish to Cement Board
Next up it’s time to turn these construction materials into a Concrete Fireplace! I used Ardext Feather Finish concrete to apply to the cement board. It’s almost like skim coating if you’ve ever done that. But for this step you do have to work pretty quickly and here’s my number one tip. Work in small batches because it dries VERY fast! You can layer it and layer it until you get it perfect, but don’t try to glob it on. I did about 3-4 coats over the whole thing, but I had to mix way more than that.
Follow the instructions on the Ardex Bag for application. I did choose to mix mine a little thinner (but not much), because it was easier to work with. I applied the Ardex with a drywall taping knife. This allowed for great application
Tips for Using Ardex Feather Finish on a Concrete Fireplace
- When applying Ardex make sure to mix in small batches
- Applying using a drywall tape knife
- Use a wet grout sponge to smooth out any marks (wet sanding)
- Apply in varying directions to randomize any marks or color variations
When applying the final coat I used a wet sponge to smooth out any lines, then I let it dry mostly and smoothed it out again with the sponge.
Let that dry, then if you have any noticeable marks left after dry time you can sand it, but I’ve heard it’s very messy, so take that into consideration.
Concrete Fireplace Before & After
After we finished all the concrete work we did any necessary touch up painting, caulking, and installed a simple board for a mantel.
One benefit of me waiting so long to share the tutorial is now you can see it decorated for every single season! Click the images below for more details!
Now you’re ready to completely transform your old fireplace into a gorgeous concrete fireplace! To see this project on video you can check out the highlights on my Instagram Stories
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