DIY Fireplace Remodel: Concrete Finish for under $100

 Get this Concrete Look Fireplace Finish for Under $100!

You may have saw the other posts about our fireplace remodel we did several years back. While I still like our fireplace, I really really like what we did with this remodel. We helped my parents renovate their fireplace during quarantine last year and I am finally getting around to sharing the results. 

How it Started

Fireplace Before 
The ugly 1970's/1980's rock was all the rage back in the day, it is clearly no longer in style and its a major dust collector. While it isn't impossible to get rid of, it certainly requires a some muscle and an electric demolition hammer. We rented one from Home Depot but at this point, we should of just bought it because we have removed these infamous massive rocks in several places of our home. 😐We removed the rock one by one to expose a massive space behind the fireplace. Apparently in the 70/80's is was common for masons to show their "skills" with curved masonry. What a waste of space! We were so happy to uncover the additional space behind the drywall.

Fireplace After Demo
After the demo was complete, we assessed what was left as a DIY and what we had to hire out to "pros". We convinced my parents to get a Fireplace insert because we use of fireplace so much more when we can turn it on white a push of a button! They hired a local company and they framed out the fireplace (without a hearth). The fireplace company built the fireplace surround with metal studs, and hardy backer board. Because fireplaces put off heat, its important to ensure they are to code and that is why we do the demo and finishing only. Please note, the fireplace insert that was purchased was expensive. If you are looking to do a full fireplace remodel for less money, you have to go with a wood burning or gas log insert. My quote of finishing a fireplace for under $100 is for the "finish" work only. 

Concrete Fireplace Finish Work
Fireplace After Drywall Joint Compound
You have probably seen the concrete finished or plaster finished fireplaces on HGTV. They are all so beautiful and they may be a fad but I think they look so modern and simple. My mom was set on a concrete look finish and found a product that was not only inexpensive but so pretty. She purchased two bags of the Ardex Feather Finish Concrete. It can be purchased on Amazon for around $35 making the "finish" work an absolute steal in terms of costs. Shiplap, tile, marble, or quartz are all commonly used materials for fireplace finish work, but they are wayyyyy more expensive. This was a great alternative that is fire safe. Make sure that after the hardy backer boards are installed on the metal studs, the edges of the fireplaces have drywall corners that were applied with joint compound installed to help the concrete to have something to hold onto. We also applied drywall tape and mud (joint compound) to the seams of the hardy backer board. Be sure to also mud over the screws so the concrete has a flat surface to be attach to. 

Tip: Although you see people use Quartz and Marble to finish fireplaces, did you know that these materials aren't actually heat resistant? If you go to any stone yard, the people that work there will tell you that. I am not sure why it is commonly used but we weren't going to take the chance and pay lots of money on a stone slab only to have it break from the heat!

Fireplace During Concrete Application 
The application of the concrete was pretty simple. All you need is a tub of water, the Ardex concrete, a plastic or metal putt knife. Follow the instructions on the back of the concrete for part water and part concrete. It has the consistency of cake mix. It isn't too thick or too smooth. Two tips we learned as we worked on the fireplace are: You don't want to over-wet it because it will be too smooth and won't stick to the wall and  you want to make small batches as it dries super fast! You apply the concrete to the hardy backer board one stroke at a time in a "y" pattern. It is very similar to applying joint compound to drywall. We have videos saved to our Instagram highlights page! It took about three quotes before it was fully covered. The concrete dries a light grey color once complete.  You can see from the progress pictures the different color greys. Another great thing about this fireplace finish beside the low cost, is that it can be demoed so easily in twenty years when you get tired of it! I assure you it will be an easier change than that 1970/80's rock. 😆 

What do you think of the finished look? We love it! It brings so much organic warmth to the space. Thanks for following along. Check is out on Instagram and message us is you have any questions.