Stone Surround Fireplace – Concord, MA

At this home in Concord, MA the owners would like to update their existing brick fireplace with a new granite stone surround. They are also interested in removing the raised hearth and setting the new hearth flush with the floor to open up more space in the room.

Fireplace Before
Fireplace Before

This job is fairly straightforward in that the new stone can be built right over the existing brick. The granite we use is only 1″ thick so fits inside the existing wood frame without needing to re-do any of the carpentry. The existing hearth will need to be removed in order to lower the new hearth to the floor.

First we remove the brick hearth and install the new granite hearth in the old footprint. We are able to remove enough brick to get the new hearth perfectly even with the floor as desired.

Granite Hearth
Granite Hearth

Next we install the granite facing for the fireplace. The granite we use is a ~1″ thick stone sold as paving stones, but makes for good veneer as well. We are able to use standard sized stones from the stoneyard which we cut to fit on-site. A high bond mortar adheres it to the wall, and we set the stones very tightly as to hide the joints.

Stone Surround Installation
Stone Surround Installation
Stone Surround Installation
Stone Surround Installation

The last few pieces go in and the new stone surround fireplace is complete. The new fireplace has a much cleaner and contemporary look and is a quick and relatively easy way to make a big improvement.

Stone Surround Fireplace
Stone Surround Fireplace
Stone Surround Fireplace
Stone Surround Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace Installation – Concord, MA

Fireplace Design

At this home in Concord, MA we are hired for an outdoor fireplace installation on the back patio. The homeowner wants a fireplace that throws a lot of heat and that has a nice hearth for sitting on so they can enjoy the patio and fireplace during the colder months. To accommodate this we design a custom Rumford Fireplace. Named after Count Rumford’s design from the late 1700’s, the Rumford Fireplace is a tall, shallow fireplace that narrows towards the back and reflects more heat outwards. We follow the specified dimensions for the firebox itself, and then we custom design the surrounding stonework.

Fireplace Design
Fireplace Design

The fireplace design has a wrap around hearth and a cavity below for wood storage. The face of the fireplace is handsome and proportional with sloped sides and a chimney matching the width of the firebox. We will use a gray stacked stone veneer, granite for the hearth and caps, and reclaimed wood for the mantle.

Before

Outdoor Fireplace Installation

Foundation/Firebox/Blockwork

First we excavate and pour a concrete pad, and then block up the hearth. Once the hearth is up we start the brickwork for the firebox. The firebox is made from a special brick and mortar both of which can withstand very high heat.

Blockwork for Hearth
Starting the Firebox

As the firebox goes up we block around it forming the body of the fireplace. Once we reach the top of the firebox we need to transition the opening to meet the chimney. This is either done by corbeling the brick, or by using precast Rumford parts. In this case we corbel the brick until meeting the 1′ x 1′ size of the chimney liner.

Top of Firebox
Top of Firebox
Transition
Chimney Liner

Once the first chimney liner is in we are done with the brickwork and continue blocking up the slopes and chimney until we reach full height.

Completed Blockwork
Completed Blockwork

Fireplace Veneer and Cap Installation

The blockwork for the outdoor fireplace installation is done and now we can begin the finish work of capping and veneering. First we make a test fire to make sure the fireplace is drawing properly. Proper draw is important for any fireplace so the smoke goes up and away and not out the front. Outdoor fireplaces can be extra challenging in that swirling winds, downdrafts, and other outdoor variables can blow smoke where you don’t want it. To guard against this we make sure the opening of the fireplace, chimney liner, and chimney height are all to the proper proportions to ensure the best possible draw. In this case the fireplace is drawing great and no adjustments need to be made.

outdoor fireplace installation
Test Fire/Veneer/Hearth

The hearth goes in and we veneer up the face until reaching the sloped portion of the caps. The sloped caps take some extra care as it is a steep slow, so we pin them onto the backing block with metal ties before mortaring them in place.

Slope Cap Installation

Once the caps are on and dry we continue veneering. We leave a wooden spacer where the mantle will go and finish veneering to the top.

Veneering the Outdoor Fireplace
Veneering the Outdoor Fireplace

The mantle is a hand hewn hardwood beam that we pick out from an architectural salvage yard. We pin it onto the face to give it a ‘floating shelf’ look without the need for any corbels or brackets below.

Hand Hewn Fireplace Mantle
Hand Hewn Fireplace Mantle
Fireplace Mantle Installation
Fireplace Mantle Installation
Fireplace Mantle Installation
Fireplace Mantle Installation

The mantle is in. Next we add a granite cap to the top of the chimney, give everything a cleaning, and the outdoor fireplace installation is complete and ready to enjoy.

Outdoor Fireplace Installation
Outdoor Fireplace Installation
Outdoor Fireplace Installation
Outdoor Fireplace Installation
Outdoor Fireplace Installation
Outdoor Fireplace Installation

Patio, Steps, and Firepit – Needham, MA

Here in Needham, MA we are removing an old deck and installing a new stone patio, steps, firepit, and walkways. The patio will be made from Natural Cleft Bluestone, the stairs from granite, the firepit from reclaimed granite curbing, and the walkways from bluestone flagging.

The granite stairs will wrap around the corner of the house so one can exit in any direction. The bluestone patio is natural cleft bluestone laid in varied size running bond, or rows of the same size. The running bond pattern gives a more contemporary look than the more traditional random pattern. The corners of the patio will be stepped in to allow for planting areas, and irregular bluestone flagging will be used for a stepping stone walkway.

before
before

Installation

First we remove the deck and excavate the area for base preparation. Compacted crushed stone goes in the base, and the stones are dry laid on top in a thin layer of fine gravel. Dry laid patios are far more common these days as they are faster and easier to install, they drain freely, and hold up longer in the variable New England climate.

We install the granite steps to wrap around the corner of the house. The top landing is made from bluestone to match the patio below. Against the house we add new pressure treated sheathing, and then flash the sheathing with ice + water shield, and then aluminum sheet metal. This ensures no rot will occur where stone meets the house.

Stair Installation
Stair Installation
Granite Stair Installation
Granite Stair Installation

Next we install the bluestone patio. These are natural cleft bluestones which have a rougher cleft surface and vary in color. We lay them in neat rows and switch sizes each row. In the joints we spread a polymer sand which is a fine sand that hardens up. It is not a cement product, it is meant to remain somewhat flexible and permeable and works well with dry-laid patios.

Bluestone Patio Installation
Bluestone Patio Installation
Bluestone Patio Installation
Bluestone Patio Installation

Next we go to the supply yard and pick out some reclaimed granite curbing to use for the firepit. The reclaimed granite comes out of old of old roads and bridges etc in the area and is sold to supply yards. We pick out several pieces that are consistent enough in size, and then cut them down to make the square firepit. The granite is a hefty 8″ thick, by 16″ tall and makes for a solid firepit. We take care to plan the layout so that the cut ends are hidden and the existing rough ends are visible. In this case we have 4 equal lengths available so we lay them out in a ‘pinwheel’ fashion rather than two long and two short.

Firepit Fabrication
Firepit Fabrication
Reclaimed Granite Firepit
Reclaimed Granite Firepit

We lay the rest of the patio and then add the stepping stone walkways leading to the patio and through an adjacent garden. The flagstones are large, irregular pieces of bluestone. They match in appearance but make for a more informal pathway.

Flagstone Steppers
Flagstone Steppers

We spread new loam in the area and our portion of work is done. Landscapers will come in next to plant amongst the patio and walkways to soften and integrate the whole area with the yard and gardens.

Finished Patio
Finished Patio