Natural stone fireplace surround with one-hour install
For contractors, installing a cast stone fireplace in a residence, condo or apartment building can present so many labor and material costs – not to mention installation issues – that it can scuttle a job completely before it even begins.
In one way or another, the difficulties behind cast stone surrounds stem from its sheer weight. A cast stone mantel and surround can weigh up to 1 ton. Shipping alone for a surround of this size can cost $800 or more, in addition to the cost of the product itself. Also, given the product’s weight, floors and walls often require additional structural support, driving up installation time and costs. In fact, structural issues can eliminate effectively cast stone surrounds as an option for any floor higher than the first, and for most apartment or condo units.
The weight of cast stone also is a factor in the actual installation. Contractors must use lifting equipment to bring the material indoors and during installation, and employ multiple helpers. All totaled, a cast stone surround installation can take up to two days.
Fortunately, a new option on the market that takes a lot of the cost, weight and installation time out of such a project exists. To be more exact, installing a stone surround can take as little as one hour, with a single helper, no structural reinforcements, using only a level, caulking gun, a sponge and, perhaps. some shims.
The solution is a lightweight product that has the look and feel of real stone, but isn’t as heavy as solid cast stone. To be more exact, the product, from San Antonio-based Mission Stone, involves a layer of cast limestone cement over a lightweight Styrofoam core, giving the look and feel of solid cast stone without the weight, the price or installation requirements.
Mission Stone uses actual stone, but just on the surface of the product. A half-inch-thick layer of limestone cement is hand cast around the foam core and, subsequently, hand-polished with a grinder to give it the look and feel of real cast stone. At that point, the surface presents a white color, but various water-based stains can be applied to provide different color variations, including custom finishes.
Perhaps most important, the fireplace surround with its foam core greatly reduces the weight from about 2,000 pounds for cast stone to only 200 pounds, for the average mantel and two legs.
The legs and mantel are first “dry-fit” to the wall, and their positions are marked in pencil. The pieces then are removed, so that the adhesive can be applied, after which they are pressed firmly back into place. Once the adhesive is dry, a 1/8-inch bead of caulk is applied where the mantel and legs meet the wall. Wiping everything down with a clean damp sponge finishes the job.
If time is money, foam-core technology also saves when it comes to manufacturing lead times. A cast solid stone order can require anywhere from six to eight weeks to fill. A foam-core order takes three to four weeks to fill – a notable time savings.
For more information, visit www.missionstone.com.
Originally published in Masonry magazine.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.