DIY Concrete Fireplace {for less than $100}

DIY Concrete Fireplace tutorial using Ardex Feather Finish by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}Hello there!  I am finally ready to share with you the much anticipated DIY concrete fireplace tutorial.  By way of background, in case you have not already read about it in the post about our family room renovation, let me explain the reason behind this transformation.  We felt like the stone fireplace was a very “traditional” look that felt out of place to us in our very contemporary home.  We really wanted a clean, simple, contemporary look for the fireplace.

I was obsessed with concrete fireplaces and I was willing to hire the job out.  But, professionals told us it either could not be done or it would cost us $2,000 to $3,000 and that they “thought” it would work.  Ummmm, no thanks.  Long story short, I researched a ton and found a phenomenal concrete product called Ardex Feather Finish that I thought would enable us to get exactly the look we wanted for a very small price tag.

This fireplace has received lots of attention since being pictured in my post on our family room renovation.  I was thrilled when my family room was featured on Apartment Therapy.  While most of the feedback was positive, there were some people who were APPALLED that we removed the stone from our fireplace.  I was not surprised.  In fact, my family room reveal post noted at the outset that the style would not be for everyone.

Let me just state for the record that I am totally okay with people disagreeing with our choice to remove the stone from our fireplace {though you should know that it had been badly sealed and was shiny and discolored}.  And I totally get that not everyone loves the look of concrete.  It’s okay, people!  I don’t expect everyone to love every single choice I make.  If everyone had the same taste, life would be boring.  But, for those of you that L.O.V.E. our DIY concrete fireplace as much as I do, please read on to learn about how we did it!

Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me add a HUGE disclaimer.  This worked FOR US.  We had our chimney inspected and spoke with a contractor and were confident that the stone on our fireplace was merely a facade that could be removed.  In other words, we knew our chimney would not fall down if we removed the stone.  If you are not absolutely sure about what you are dealing with, seek professional advice!  Our tutorial also depends on the presence of brick below your stone facade.  With that said, let’s get on with it…

Materials and Tools Needed for DIY Concrete Fireplace

  • Demolition hammer {we rented ours from Home Depot for the day}
  • Cement board
  • Mesh tape {to tape seams}
  • Electric drill
  • Masonry drillbit and screws
  • 14 inch Drywall tray {like this one, from Lowe’s Home Improvement}
  • 12 inch Drywall knife {like this one, from Lowe’s Home Improvement}
  • Ardex Feather Finish {you can find a distributor of Ardex in your area by clicking here. You can also buy it on Amazon here: Ardex- Feather Finish *affiliate link*  We used about 2 full bags}
  • A 5 gallon bucket for mixing the concrete
  • A drill attachment mixer {or you can mix by hand}

Steps

  1. If you have an ugly fireplace insert like we did, remove it first.  If you have a mantel, remove that also.DIY Concrete Fireplace by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}
  2. Demolish the stone facade.  We used a demolition hammer to do this and I would HIGHLY recommend it.  Joe started with just a chisel and hammer and that got old fast.  Do yourself a favor and use a demolition hammer from the start.  You should be left with brick underneath your facade.  It looked better to us already after getting the stone off!  By the way, let me give a huge shout out to my awesome step-dad, Roger, for helping us out with the demolition!  You can see him helping out Joe below.DIY Concrete Fireplace by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}DIY Concrete Fireplace by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}
  3. Use an ELECTRIC drill with an appropriate masonry bit and masonry screws to attach your cement board to the brick.  It must be an electric drill.  A battery operated drill just does not have enough power to do this job.DIY Concrete Fireplace by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}
  4. We added in a step here, that I will not be covering on the blog since it involved some DIY electrical work {which I don’t generally recommend}.  We added an electrical outlet to the fireplace so that we could hang our TV and not have wires running all over the place.  If you want to add an outlet to your fireplace, now is the time to do it.
  5. Tape the seams with mesh tape.
  6. Now you are ready for the fun part!  Mix up the concrete in your large bucket by adding water to the Ardex Feather Finish dry mix.  Add water and continue to stir until you get to a thin pancake batter consistency.  The right consistency is KEY!  Next, allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, then mix it up again.  This process helps the product remain workable for a longer period of time.
  7. Trowel the mixture into your drywall tray and start applying the mixture to the concrete board using your drywall knife.  I recommend going over the taped seams first.  Then work on covering the rest of the surfaces.  Use long, even strokes to apply a THIN layer of the concrete mixture.  We used our fingers to put it on the edges.  Sorry I don’t have any steps of this step–we completed the project pre-blog, so I did not bother taking photos of this step.  If you want to check out a tutorial about using this product on a different surface that has some photos of this step, I recommend this wonderful tutorial by Kara Paslay.  I will say it was easier to apply than I expected and we had ZERO experience with this sort of thing.  If you have ever worked with plaster or drywall mud, you will be on step ahead of us!
  8. This is how our DIY concrete fireplace looked after the first coat.  It was still drying in this photo.  You can see that the cement board seams were still visible.  Don’t worry, as you apply additional coats, everything will be covered!  DIY Concrete Fireplace Tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}
  9. We did sand some between each coat, but honestly, I wish we hadn’t.  It made a huge mess and in the end, I don’t think it was necessary because LOVE the interesting look of hand troweled concrete, so I did not want to sand out all of the trowel marks.  If you have any high spots, you may want to sand those down, but otherwise, I would allow each coat to dry, then apply another coat until you are happy with the finish.  We applied either 4 or 5 coats.  I lost count.  After the final coat, we loved the look of it so much and it was so smooth to the touch without sanding, that again, we did not sand.  We also elected not to apply a sealer, since I don’t think there is any significant danger of spelling red wine on our fireplace.

That’s it!  For less than $100, we totally transformed our fireplace and created a DIY concrete fireplace.  And to think some of the pros we consulted couldn’t even figure this one out.  HA!  We love, love, love the clean, simple lines of our fireplace now.  And we are both lovers of all things concrete {countertops, floors, etc.} so we were thrilled to be able to use one of our favorite finishes on our fireplace.

DIY Concrete Fireplace tutorial.  Learn how to create your own DIY Fireplace with Ardex Feather Finish!  By Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

DIY Concrete Fireplace tutorial.  Learn how to create your own DIY Fireplace with Ardex Feather Finish!  By Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

One of my favorite views to compare is the view from our twin girls’ playroom into our family room BEFORE:

DIY Concrete Fireplace tutorial.  Learn how to create your own DIY Fireplace with Ardex Feather Finish!  By Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

And AFTER.  We’ve come a long way, baby!

DIY Concrete Fireplace tutorial.  Learn how to create your own DIY Fireplace with Ardex Feather Finish!  By Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}What do you think of our DIY concrete fireplace?  Even if it’s not your personal style, can you believe that we managed this dramatic transformation for less than $100?!

Before I go,  let me mention that it’s time for Apartment Therapy’s Homie awards!

The Homies

A HUGE thank you to you wonderful people who have voted for my little blog!   I know that the eight votes I have at the time I am writing this post will in no way compete with those blogs at the top of the list, but I would love to get as many votes as I can :)  Voting ends February 22, 2014.   If you want to vote {even if it’s not for me}, you can vote here by clicking on the +1 button to the left of your favorite blog’s name.  If the button isn’t there, you just need to sign up for a free Apartment Therapy account.  DON’T WORRY, Apartment Therapy is great and won’t send you spam or a daily newsletter if you don’t want them to.

FINALLY {goodness, I am long-winded tonight}, if you enjoyed this post, I would love for you to follow me on social media or Bloglovin so that you never miss a post.  You may also want to check out my other projects, by clicking on the aptly named “My Project Gallery” page above to see the other projects we have tackled.  See you again soon!

DIY Concrete Fireplace for less than $100.  A full tutorial by Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

DIY Concrete Fireplace tutorial.  Learn how to create your own DIY Fireplace with Ardex Feather Finish!  By Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body {www.designertrapped.com}

I am honored that this project was featured on the following amazing blogs:

 

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Hello there, I'm Tasha! Thanks so much for being here! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow me via social media so that you never miss a post or inspiring idea.

Comments

  1. Amber says

    Thank you for the tutorial! How do you feel that the concrete finish is holding up? I really want to use the concrete to redo counters, but my husband is worried it might chip and break off… any thoughts?

    • Tasha @ Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body says

      Hey Amber! Thanks for coming by. Our fireplace is holding up amazingly well! I stand on it and sit on it frequently. We were worried it would crack when we drilled into it to hang our TV, but it didn’t. It’s amazing. We also used the Ardex Feather finish on our laundry room counter top (which you can check out in my laundry room post) and those are holding up well, too! No chipping, cracking or anything. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them in a kitchen!

  2. Kathy says

    I absolutely love your projects. This fireplace is a definite improvement. I love concrete inside also, however, I like it shiny. I am going to see if I can color the product. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  3. graceanne says

    This looks wonderful. How did you end up routing your connections from your TV and where do you house your component devices…cable box, tuner, blue ray etc. We just installed our TV over the fireplace and have the wires temporarily draped everywhere. My room is similar to yours with the fireplace flanked by a sliding door on one side and a larger window on the other. I was hesitant to add narrow cabinets as I thought it would distract from the fireplace and make the room more narrow. Any suggestions? Thanks for posting the Ardex info!

    • Tasha @ Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body says

      Thank you! We have AT&T Uverse for our cable, which means we have a wireless box. That helps minimize the cables. We house all the components behind the TV (the bracket we used leaves just enough room behind the TV to mount a small DVD player and our wireless cable box. We don’t have any other components. We use an radio frequency remote that allows us to control the components without having to have a sight line to them (like an an infrared remote requires). I hope that helps!

      As for your question about the cabinets, I would probably skip them and just make the fireplace the focus :)

  4. Linda says

    Wow…what a huge difference. Your right that the look isn’t for everyone but kudos to you and your husband for making it into something you both really like! I liked the brick after the rock was removed….my taste would be to paint the brick white like I’ve seen so many people do.
    Blessings,
    Linda

    • Tasha @ Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's Body says

      Thanks, Linda! We thought about painting the brick, but it was pretty badly damaged from removing the stone (the mortar was more difficult to get off than the stone and resulted in big chunks of brick falling off). Plus, we did think that painted brick was another traditional, though MUCH more attractive option and still wanted something more contemporary. I do LOVE painted brick fireplaces in period homes, though. We had one in our former home that was built in 1926 and I just loved it! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  5. Nancherrow says

    I kinda think this is brilliant. Way to use non traditional materials for a beautiful finish. Cement board? Would never have come up with that! I love how it looks and wouldn’t change a thing! Would love for you to share at Fridays Unfolded!

    Alison
    Nancherrow

    • Tasha says

      Thanks so much, Alison. The cement board was just put on to even out the brick surface. The real smooth finish came from the Ardex Feather Finish concrete product that we applied on top of the cement board. Thanks so much for the invitation to your party. I’ll go check it out!

  6. Angela (Life in Velvet) says

    I absolutely love this project! So amazing as always! The very first project on my list for our new house (fingers crossed until we close!) is DIY concrete countertops. I have to eradicate the sad laminate right away. I may have lots of questions for you :) You just think of the most amazing inexpensive projects that look like a million bucks :) Have a great weekend!!

  7. Duzzy Fice says

    Astonishing make-over of a total eyesore fireplace. Yes, I can see that the stone is outdated and has a strange shine to it in several places. Normally, I enjoy the natural look of stone, but this stuff was just plain U-G-L-Y! I am a bit eclectic with my decor, choosing to go with what works for me and my family, what makes it feel good to us, items that are comfortable, but still have form and function. I often mix ‘styles’ together, such as modern contemporary colours, or a funky accessory paired with with an old antique piece, just to get the proper look, I applaud your decision to go with your heart and replace the fireplace surround. It looks very modern without appearing ‘cold’ because of how you arranged the rest of the room. Go with your gut instinct, it almost never fails. The new fireplace surround is fabulous and all I have to say is: Good on you!

  8. dave e. says

    How anyone could defend or support keeping the fireplace as it was is beyond me. “Heinous” comes to mind…

    Amazing job. Now, if we just had a fireplace… ( …sigh… ) LOL

    • Tasha A. says

      Thanks, Dave! I agree with you. I could not believe the number of people that liked the fireplace before. Different strokes for different folks, I guess!

Trackbacks

  1. […] My FAVORITE part of this DIY family room transformation is the fireplace.  I am sure there are many people out there who will say, “WHY did you remove the stone from your fireplace?!”  This is why…I felt like it was a very “traditional” look that felt out of place to me in such a contemporary home.  I felt that the fireplace needed a contemporary look.  I was obsessed with concrete fireplaces that I was seeing all over Pinterest and I was willing to hire the job out.  But, professionals told us it either could not be done or it would cost us $2,000 to $3,000 and that they “thought” it would work.  Ummmm, no thanks.  Long story short {the long story will be the subject of an upcoming post}, I researched a ton and found a phenomenal concrete product called Ardex Feather Finish, which allowed us to transform the fireplace totally on our own for $100.  That’s right–a DIY concrete fireplace!  No, I’m not kidding.  Take a look at that transformation.  You can find the detailed tutorial for our DIY concrete fireplace here! […]

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