Even a country cabin with no running water can benefit from Go-Stone, adding color, texture and creating an unforgettable ambiance. In fact for Tim Streisel, the “bigger in real life” fireplace he’s built in his small self-constructed wooden cabin on a wooded lake lot in Missouri is a pivotal feature, and one that he and his wife Kelly are extremely proud of. Check out his entire blog covering his project here.
An electrical engineer, Tim bought the lot in July 2012, and instead of using a camper at weekends, he decided to build a barn-type shed. He could buy a shell for $6500, but realized he would cut costs dramatically by doing it himself, with a little help from some friends.
The bedroom would be upstairs, and an open-plan living area downstairs. There would be a fireplace in one corner, finished with rock veneer.
Building began a year later, in July 2013, while they camped on the lot at weekends and over holidays, always relying on good weather.
Tim admits in his blog that he stressed for about two years about how to do the fireplace. He even had nightmares that it would turn out badly. “I didn’t know if I would be able to pull it off.”
From the start his original idea was to cover the timber framework of the fireplace surround with cement board and a rock veneer – preferably using suitable rocks from the property. But all basic construction work would have be completed before real decisions could be made about the feature fireplace.
Tim already had a propane, vent-free unit that slotted neatly into the fireplace, and the first fire was lit that November. Because it produced too much heat, the couple decided to use it for “a quick heat-up and for ambiance.” Ceramic heaters would be used as the main heat source. But in the meantime, the living room remained unfinished, with lawn chairs serving seating needs. While rock wool turned out to be a good way to simulate glowing embers, the fireplace was still a largely hollow skeleton.
By the end of December Tim was ready to get started on laying his rock veneer. He declared to Kelly that he wanted it to look like stacked stone rather than field stone, to meet the “modern rustic” aesthetic he was aiming for throughout the cabin.
Acknowledging the fact that he had no stone masonry skills, he soon abandoned the idea of using stone off the lot, and started looking for faux stone options.
The first product he found incorporated mounting wires cast into the manufactured stone. It seemed simple to install, though Tim felt it looked a little “flat” without the variations of genuine stone. Two negatives were:
- The price – it was going to cost him close to $700 to complete the fireplace.
- He discovered that inadvertently pressing the stone too much, tended to move it enough to spoil the illusion.
That’s when he found Native Custom Stone’s Go-Stone. Lightweight, effective, and easy to stick on cement board or drywall using a mastic tile adhesive, he was delighted to find it was a “green” product made from recycled rubber tires. Better still it wouldn’t cost him more than about $300 to complete the project.
So the first cabin project scheduled for 2016 was the Go-Stone fireplace installation, and Tim only has praise for the product. For instance he says:
- Bought from Home Depot, the packaging is excellent.
- The stones feel just like stone, in spite of being made of rubber.
- The variations in depth are incredibly realistic.
- Shading and color variations are impressive.
- No one piece of “stone” looks like another.
- Texture on the back of each unit maximizes adhesion.
Installation is shown step-by-step on his blog, together with comments and advice for others wanting achieve the same awesome effect:
- The stone is easy to cut but does create a lot of dust. So wear safety glasses.
- Measuring and cutting takes “a bit of time,” but they are quick and easy to lay.
- Keeping the stone level is vital; check every row.
- Painting the board a dark color prior to installation will help hide gaps.
- If you use mortar to fill gaps, let it dry and harden and chip the excess off. Wiping it gets messy.
While Tim had lots of help building the shell of their country cabin, the fireplace was a dual effort between him and Kelly.
“I feel a strange sense of pride in knowing that we did it ourselves.”