How to Build a Fireplace Surround Using Stone Pavers

You can build a fireplace surround in a day using reclaimed materials and this simple tutorial.

| June 20, 2012

Anytime you’re checking out Craigslist, cleaning the basement, or patrolling the springtime garage sales, you’ll encounter opportunities to collect and reclaim usable building materials. If you exercise good judgment and know a few salvage tricks, you can take advantage of these chances to obtain free (or nearly free) project supplies and put them to work in your house. Building with Secondhand Stuff (Creative Publishing International, 2011) is about making good decisions and learning specific techniques for getting unusable material into useful condition. Learn how to build a fireplace surround with stone pavers in this excerpt from Chapter 4, “Reclaiming Stone Materials.” 

The trick in using stone pavers to their best advantage is to make use of the combined power of form, texture, and color. A stacked surface such as this creates interesting and regular lines in the courses, as well as an undulating surface texture that invites touching. Paver colors range from grey to red to cream and beyond and add an understated touch to any room. The chances are, if you’ve purchased or reclaimed the pavers as a complete lot, coloring is going to be uniform throughout. You should check anyway just to be sure, and if there is significant color variation between stones, spend some time deciding on what stones will go where for the best visual impression.

In any case, this style of fireplace surround is a fairly traditional look, and one that works every bit as well in a contemporary home as it would in a cabin or A-frame ski lodge. Add to that adaptability the fact that the surface is actually fairly easy and quick to install. It should take you less than a day. This particular project was just a bit more involved because we installed a new electric fireplace in the wall. These types of fireplaces can go right into a drywall cavity; there is no real fire and the fireplace needs no special venting or complicated insulation.

The project here was done against a sheetrocked wall, making the installation straightforward, and the surround was built to half height. The look serves as a perfect foil for the aftermarket fireplace, and the combination transforms the wall and the room. For a more dramatic appearance, stack a stone or paved surround up to the ceiling. We’ve added two stone mantels. But many people choose to use a weathered, reclaimed timber. It’s a matter of taste, but if you’re going to stack the surround any higher, it’s wise to sandwich the mantel in the middle of the structure regardless of whether you’re bolting it to the wall or mortaring it to the stone. Although this paver construction will be stable in and of itself using the methods described, mounting anything on the front of the stone could stress and compromise the structure.

The stone pavers used for this project are new masonry units left over from a patio installation. You could also salvage old sand-set or dry-set pavers, but if you have pavers that were set in mortar they’re probably not worth using in an indoor installation.

How to Build a Fireplace Surround

(Visit the Image Gallery for a photo of each step.)

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard