The applications for decorative concrete continue to surprise and expand. For decades, decorative concrete was limited to stamped patios and the like. However, with some creativity, it can touch nearly every part of the home. Here’s how Cory and Justin from Huber Custom Coatings used vertical mix, stampable overlay, and water based stains, to build an attractive fireplace.  

Part 1: The Surround

  1. Install the scratch coat. Cory and Justin first fastened a lightweight, fiberglass lath (SpiderLath) to the existing wall. They firmly troweled the Type-S Mortar over the lath and used a notching tool to cut deep grooves into the mortar before it set. This is also where Cory and Justin installed the wood mantelpiece.

  2. Mix the Vertical Mix according to instructions found in the TIS. Water content can be altered to ease application. A thicker “peanut butter” consistency will yield best results.

  3. Apply the Vertical Mix to the scratch coat in a thin layer. Begin by squishing the material deep within the grooves. In this video, Cory and Justin used their hands (always wear the appropriate protective gear when handling cementitious products) to firmly press the material into the grooves. Some applicators like to throw handfuls of the material while others choose to use trowels. Do whatever works best for you as long as you get the vertical mix deep in the grooves of the scratch coat.

  4. Apply the build layer. Larger handfuls of Vertical Mix will grab onto the thinner base layer and provide a good start for texturing. Smooth the material with a trowel. You may want to consider using forms to maintain a clean edge and uniform depth.

  5. Texture the Vertical Mix. Use tools such as stamps and texture rollers to texture the surface. More advanced applicators may also free-texture and sculpt using trowels, chisels, and whatever they can think to use. When using texture rollers or stamps, always use Brickform Liquid Release to keep the material from sticking.

  6. Start detailing when the Vertical Mix has started to set up. For a more realistic and varied appearance, Cory and Justin used small margin trowels to cut deeper grooves in the brick texture and add more depth. They also rounded edges and chipped some of the bricks for a more realistic look. Remove any dust or debris prior to the application of other materials.

  7. On this job, Cory and Justin used Brickform Cem-Coat for a durable, stain-ready base color. They mixed the Cem-Coat following the TIS instructions and applied the material in thin coats with a brush. You can also apply Cem-Coat with an airless sprayer.

  8. After the Cem-Coat dried, Cory and Justin used water-based Brickform ARTesian Stain to detail and highlight. They sprayed individual bricks with different colors for a more weathered, natural look.

  9. Seal the Vertical Mix to preserve and protect it. Choose a Brickform sealer that best suits your application and desired final appearance. Penetrating sealers such as Stealth Seal protect without leaving a film. Water-based sealers such as Satin Seal will protect while maintaining a matte, natural finish. Solvent-based sealers like Gem-Seal or Poly-Seal add gloss and enhance color.

Before: The existing wood mantle was dated and boring. While it matched the trim, it did little to improve the overall appearance of the room.

Part 2: The Hearth

  1. Build a form to the desired specifications, with form liners on the out-facing sides. Cut the urethane form liners to size and use plumber’s putty to fill in the joints at the corners for a smooth transition. The form liners will give the out-facing edges a natural looking stone texture.

  2. Mix Brickform Stampable Overlay following the TIS mixing instructions. Add color, as per the TIS, if desired. In this case, Cory and Justin added pea gravel as an aggregate during mixing. This added “bulk” to the mix and made it more suitable for a counter top-like application.

  3. Spray the forms with liquid release and pour a thin layer of Stampable Overlay.

  4. Place the rebar for support. Make sure it is not too close to the top or else it may affect the appearance.

  5. Continue adding material to the form until it is full. Use a vibrator to consolidate the mix and eliminate air bubbles. Pockets of air may negatively affect the texture on the form liners. Allow the material to set and remove the forms.

  6. Apply the sealer. Cory and Justin used Brickform Uermax WB for a durable, matte finish layer of protection. Once the sealer is set, they installed the hearth in the fireplace.

After: The addition of the faux-brick surround makes for a homier, more rustic room. Other looks can be achieved using these same materials and methods.

With a little creativity, you can accent any room of the home. Overlay materials can be used in many non-standard ways to replace traditional materials such as stone, brick, and granite. Always read and fully understand the literature for every product you intend to use before you begin any project. Make sure the existing structure (wall, cabinets, floors, etc) will be able to support the weight and stresses of your materials – making upgrades and improvements as needed.