How to Refinish a Fireplace with Brick Veneer

In this DIY Smarts project, Ask This Old House mason Mark McCullough replaces a homeowner’s sloppy fireplace surround with a clean, thin brick veneer.

Steps for Refinishing a Fireplace with Brick Veneer

  1. Start by removing the old veneer. Take a chisel and a hammer and try to cut the thin stones until you can get the chisel behind it.
  2. Then, use the chisel and hammer to pry it off from behind. This process sends chips of stone flying, so wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.
  3. Template for the new thin brick. Mark used a brick ruler to get the spacing just right and also save time, but it’s possible to also eyeball it as long as you mark each individual thin brick. Painter’s tape can be used to mark each spot.
  4. Apply the thin bricks with a thinset, same as with tiling, and a trowel. Check for level every few bricks.
  5. Fill in the joints with Type N mortar and a tuck pointer.
  6. Brush off any excess mortar using the masonry brush.

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Mark installed General Shale French Quarter thin brick as a veneer over the old fireplace. He ordered both flat and corner thin bricks to make sure the fireplace opening looked fully covered. He secured the veneer to the wall using Quikrete Type N mortar.

To template the brick placement, Mark used a brick ruler, which can be found at masonry supply stores.

The materials Mark used to install the thin brick, including tuck pointers, trowels, and painter’s tape can all be found at The Home Depot.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by the Spaulding Brick Company.


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