Installing Drywall Fireplaces

If you’re tired of the look of your current fireplace, there is any number of options in the home improvement world that you could choose to make things look more “modern” and up to date.

However, not all of these options result in continual use of the fireplace – but it’s not unusual for many homes to simply use their fireplace as a decorative element anyway! One easy way to update your fireplace and make it a part of room décor is to look into drywall fireplaces, pulling the room together as a cohesive whole.

Step 1: Fireplace Refacing

    1) Before you can change the fireplace front, you’ll need to reface the whole area. Strap the whole face of the fireplace with pieces of 1x2 spruce, around 12” or 16” OC.

    2) Drill ¼” holes about three inches deep in the vertical mortar lines of the current facing, and then fill them back up by driving in ¼” cedar or pine wooden plugs. If you’re handy with a knife, you could even whittle these plugs yourself since they’re quite small, otherwise the local hardware store should have some. Then you can attach the facing straps with screws – use 2” drywall screws, inserted through the straps and then the plugs.

    3) Ensure that you’re screwing down the straps on the top and bottom horizontally, and while you attach, make sure that the screws follow along the mortar lines – if not, you’ll end up damaging the brick faces. Although you may not care about the brick now, it’s a good insurance policy to keep it in good condition for the future.

Step 2: Check Your Work

    4) Most home renovation specialists suggest that when it comes to renovating a fireplace, it’s also a good idea to take photos along the way. It’s a large change, and if something goes wrong, you should have a record of what you’ve done for insurance purposes – and in case you plan to sell the home in the future. Include a tape measure with visible numbers in all your photos, taking pictures throughout the duration of the project and archiving them afterward in a secure place.

Step 3: Drywall the Fireplace

    5) Your drywall sheets for the fireplace should be 5/8” thick, and your process after the refacing is simply a basic drywall job. Measure carefully the cutout area around the fireplace, and it’s really as easy as installing the drywall just like you would anywhere else in your home.

    6) After it’s up, remember to prime before painting the surface to match the rest of your home. If you’re planning on adding wallpaper, texture, or even tiling the drywall area afterward, remember to not only prime but also paint before going ahead with adding anything to the new surface. Painting first ensures that the drywall won’t disintegrate or be ruined by whatever you choose to apply overtop.

Step 4: Future Considerations

If, in the future, you or someone else wants to change the drywall facing, you’ll have the archived photos to warn someone about what they’re dealing with.

In addition, the facing can be easily removed by taking out the screws, which will allow the wooden plugs to be drilled out. Then all that will need to be done is a re-pointing job to fix up the holes in the mortar, and the fireplace will be ready for the next new project.