What you probably don’t notice, looking at most of our stone fireplaces, is that while they look as if they could be solid stone, they are often intentionally designed to include multiple parts which together form the fireplace. We design them this way primarily to save weight and material. For example, there’s no need to add several hundred pounds to your fireplace, when instead of using a 14” thick solid slab on the header panel between the surround and the mantel we could break that down into 3 separate 2 ½” to 3” thick slabs that miter together and visually look the same from the outside.
We often create parts like the legs, surrounds, headers, and mantles from multiple pieces. This reduces the weight of the individual components and reduces the amount of stone required to make the design. There can be a considerable weight and cost savings in material achieved by this approach. Keep in mind that most fireplaces will still have considerable weight, though. A simple stone fireplace surround design, with a relatively shallow depth, can still weight over 500 lbs. The stone fireplace we will be featuring in this article weighed a total of 5,000 lbs. You must consult your architect, builder or contractor to consider the structural support needed for a stone fireplace before making plans to have one added to your home, especially if it is part of a remodel project.
So let’s take a closer look at the installation of a stone fireplace.
The following article covers the installation of a large great room fireplace. With an overall size of 83” H x 100” W x 44” D, it was important that we designed the fireplace in order to cut weight and reduce material usage efficiently.
In order to make the installation go as smoothly as possible, we use advanced 3D modeling and drafting software to create a virtual model of the fireplace before our carvers ever cut a piece of stone. This allows us to ensure that the fireplace will fit the firebox properly, and that installation goes smoothly, without requiring an excessive amount of cutting and fabricating to make everything assemble. We are even able to estimate the weight of each component.
As you can see in this picture of the finished result below, the fireplace has a large, deep design with a drywall clad chimney extending from it. This required us to consider not only building around the protruding firebox and chimney structure, but to try to reduce weight and material usage as much as possible while creating the large foot print.
As with all of our custom stone fireplace designs, we created a 3D model of the fireplace based on the size constraints of the firebox and the dimensions given to us by the architect.
In this exploded view of the fireplace, you can see just how carefully we broke down a fireplace into its many critical parts.
Strategic design makes all the difference. Notice that instead of just using one large heavy stone slab for the mantle, we broke it down into multiple layers and pieces. We do this for two reasons: to make the mantel easier to carve (especially where a profile meets in inner corners) and to reduce the overall weight so that our installers can lift and position the mantle into place.
This also means that instead of using a 5” thick by 100” long slab, we were able to break down the design into stacked layers and much smaller pieces joined together, thus greatly reducing the amount of stone used.
The header panel between the surround and the mantle is another part of the design where we were able to reduce material and weight. Had we carved the corbels and frieze panel carving as one slab, it would have been 23” deep! Instead, we opted to make a separate carving slab 2 ¼” thick and make the corbel corners separate pieces. In the image of the 3D model, below (with the top mantel layer hidden), you can see how the top half of the fireplace is assembled.
So now that you’ve seen how we design the fireplace, let’s take a look at how it gets installed.
Here are some of the fireplace parts laid out in preparation for installation. As you can see, we pre-assemble some parts, like the mantel layers, as we deem necessary.
First we put down the hearth and the plinth base.
Next we add the side slabs, which wrap around the firebox, and the return slab, for the jamb between the leg and the firebox.
This design called for a fire screen to be inserted behind the legs, so we formed a pocket from scrap slabs, since this area would not be visible.
Next the legs were epoxied in place.
Superior Craftsmanship, not Shortcuts. In order to give the legs more structural support, we epoxied long anchor screws into the leg and the side slabs. We also ran anchors through the top of the side slabs and into the brick firebox.
Next, the bottom slab of the header was carefully set into place with a winch.
Then we added the corbels, followed by the front carving panel.
And the mantel was set in place.
Finally, all of the seams were properly sealed with grout.
Voila! Here is the finished result—a magnificent custom stone fireplace design.
Let Carved Stone Creations Enhance Your Home! Discover how custom stone fireplace design can transform your home. We can work with any type of firebox, from a traditional vented wood-burning fireplace, to a sealed gas unit. Just take a look at this gallery to see some our past fireplace projects.
Carved Stone Creations is located in Kaukauna, WI, and we are a convenient drive away from many Midwest metro areas, including Milwaukee, Madison, Chicago, Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Davenport, Des Moines, St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Columbus, and surrounding areas. Visit our showroom to see firsthand what we can design for you. Our convenient centralized location also means that we can bring all of the tools and heavy equipment needed to tackle any installation project.
In addition to fireplaces, we design and install many types of architectural stonework, including fountains, staircases, exterior stone veneer, window and door surrounds, fountains, statues, and much more!
Do you live outside of the Midwest? Wherever you are, Carved Stone Creations can install a beautiful fireplace for you, too! We have successfully carried out projects, from New York, to Florida, to California! Contact us today and find out what Carved Stone Creations can do for you!
Get started designing your natural stone fireplace today; download our free fireplace design guide.