A fireplace is often the hub of the home in winter: a place to sit and relax or socialize, and get warm. But it is more than just a useful adjunct to a home’s heating system, and is also often a focal point in terms of décor.
Whether you already have a fireplace in your home, or are considering installing a new one, type and style will be important considerations. There are many options both traditional and contemporary; with manufactured stone taking its rightful place alongside other more banal finishes including brick and paint.
If you are building a fireplace from scratch, manufactured stone can easily be incorporated in the design of the unit. If you are renovating or changing an existing fireplace, faux stone may be used as a finish to completely revamp the unit and give it a new and exciting lease of life.
Benefits of Using Manufactured Stone for a Fireplace
If you like the idea of a fireplace made of stone, you’ll be happy to learn that good quality manufactured stone is both easier to work with (because it isn’t so heavy) and less expensive than quarried stone. You may also be surprised to discover that faux stone is generally more durable than natural stone, certainly stronger and more hardwearing than softer stone types including sandstone and certain types of limestone.
When using natural stone you are generally limited by what is available in the area in which you live – unless of course your budget can withstand the high costs of bringing quarried stone in from other regions. Manufactured stone mimics a myriad of natural stone types and you will find a multitude of colors and styles to meet personal and décor needs.
Quality faux stone is stain-resistant and easy to clean, whereas unpolished natural stone tends to be porous and is vulnerable to staining. This minimizes maintenance and makes a fireplace built with manufactured stone particularly easy to care for.
Basics of Installing a Manufactured Stone Fireplace
Manufactured stone (also called cultured stone) is available in different forms including:
- Solid block units, which are laid the same way as concrete bricks and blocks
- Veneer that is available in various sizes and depths that can be mixed and matched for an authentic finish, with the option of mortar joints
- Interlocking panels that are perfect for DIY applications
All types are manufactured in a factory and molded into authentic shapes and finishes, usually from concrete, although Native Custom Stone manufactures a veneer interior panel range from discarded rubber tires.
While you will need to lay a concrete plinth if you are using solid faux stone blocks, veneer and panels from Native Custom Stone don’t need any form of foundation, even if you choose to add mortar joints to the veneer.
Caring for a Manufactured Stone Fireplace
The faux stone façade of a manufactured stone fireplace is easy to clean and take care of. However, like everything else in your home, if it does get grubby, clean it as soon as possible as dirt of any sort will generally become ingrained if it is left for any length of time. For example, if a fire smokes badly for some reason, you might find that the smoke discolors the surface around the firebox or alongside the hearth. Or house dust might accumulate on an uneven surface on a very windy day. A quick, immediate cleanup will help avoid extra elbow grease at a later stage.
So from time to time when you vacuum your home, also vacuum the fireplace façade. Use the brush attachment to loosen dust, gently manipulating it out of crevices and cracks. Then use a damp cloth (with a little household cleaner if the surface is in any way discolored) to wipe off any remaining dirt.
Generally you won’t need to clean your fireplace more than once a month, although if it is in constant use during the winter months, you might need to increase this to once a week.