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Basement Reveal: DIY Stone Veneer Fireplace in the Man Cave

We revealed the new basement bar last weekend, so now it's time to move into the living room. The biggest change we made to this room after taking the wall down was overhauling the fireplace to be able to move and mount the TV. We updated the style from the old tile and wood surround to a more modern wood mantel and stone veneer front.

We gave the fireplace a temporary facelift early on by painting the mantel surround and adding peel and stick foam brick tiles. (See below.) But this change is the permanent one that it needed.

DIY Stone Veneer Process

Stone veneers come in many colors and patterns - and really make any wall pop. And the installation process is really pretty simple. If I can do this, anyone can.

Pick Out Your Stone

I first would recommend going to the actual store to look at the color and texture of the stone. Stone adds a warm feeling in the basement with 3D texture created by ¾ -1-inch variable thickness. The stone we liked best came from Menards and is called Ellis + Fisher Oyster Marble. The stone comes with 6 different sized pieces in each box and each stone being natural is different.

Stone on floor

When you receive the needed amount you will want to mix the stone from various cartons in order to blend them all together. Each box has a little bit of a variation in color, but when mixed together it blends very nicely. Each box or company you buy the stone from usually has a step-by-step guide that makes it easy. They even have the bags labeled “Step 1” so that it’s easy to apply each step.

Gather Your Equipment

Here is the list of equipment I used to do the job - links are at the bottom of the post for easy shopping:

  • Paint Brush

  • Trowel

  • 5-gallon bucket

  • Concrete Mixer Drill Attachment

  • Scraper

  • Caulk Gun

  • Tile Cutter - I looked at renting this but since I wasnt going to get the job done in a day it was more economical to buy one.

  • Level

Prep the Wall

Your first step is to take down your old drywall. I wanted to have a TV above the mantel so we added a new electrical plug to keep the cords behind the TV. We purposely knew in advance we would be putting up stone so we placed and screwed down tightly a large piece of plywood to use for the backing. Many websites now claim that the stone veneer can go directly on drywall, but the more I researched the more I decided to just to do it right with plywood.

fireplace with plywood back

The second step is to apply a water vapor barrier on the outside of the plywood. This is easy to apply you just paint it directly on the wood.

Tub of moisture barrier

I’m not sure that this is really needed for indoor use, but I did it anyway just to be safe. This should dry for 24 hours.

Fireplace plywood with moisture barrier applied

The third step is to prepare a scratch base coat over the top of the plywood. This gives it a secure bond between the stones mortar and the wall.

Stone veneer base coat

After mixing in a 5-gallon bucket, I used a trowel and applied it to the wall. Once finished you will want to scrape horizontal grooves throughout the wall to give it extra grip when hanging the stone. This needs to dry for 24 hours.

Base coat on fireplace

Hanging the Stone

I’d recommend doing a dry layout on the floor of what pattern you want to do so you can get a feel for how the different sizes of stone work together. You can apply the stones with whatever pattern you would like I would just recommend placing each level at a different starting point so each levels edge doesn’t line up.

Fireplace area with stone starting on bottom

You can buy premixed mortar that you use in a caulk gun or mix your own mortar where you follow the directions on the bag. The caulk gun approach is not as cheap, but it was easier and a little less messy to just squirt some on the back of the individual stones.

Veneer bond tube

On the back of the bar, I hung the two shelves first. This caused me to have to cut thinner stone pieces below the shelves to work around the pre-mounted shelves. On the fireplace I waited to install the mantel until I got close to where we wanted the mantel, and adjusted mantel location just slightly to help not have to cut so many stones horizontally. You will have to cut stones no matter what, but my goal was to cut as little as possible. 

Zach positioning stone on fire place

Kiersten got our mantel through a seller on Etsy. We did a little research to figure out the appropriate size but found it easier to visualize with the blue tape. We ended up with a 60" wide mantel that was a 6"x6" beam.

Fireplace Stone halfway up and mantle installed

I did the fireplace at the end of December in Iowa, which means I did not have a hose available to help me with the cutting the tile wet. I was able to just cut it dry without water, but it was a dusty mess. I started in my work room, but ended up doing it all in my garage. This took a lot of time traveling up and down, but over time it worked. Sometimes the stone will be a millimeter too tight so you just have to carefully take your time and make sure you have some extra stone to make your mistakes on.

Zach installing stone

We installed the TV mount early on and only took the stone in most of the way both to save stone and give us flexibility it we ever get a different TV and need a different mount.

Fireplace stone installed around tv bracket

Once the stone was finished I used a caulk gun and filled in any joints or gaps between the stones with some of the mortar. With rectangle shapes, most line up flush together, but you will have some gaps to fill. Try to find a color that blends with your stone and goes unnoticed.

Tv mounted on stone fireplace

The New Man Cave Living Room and Stone Fireplace

The whole process took about a week from start to finish working in small pockets of time on nights and weekends.

Basement fireplace with stone and tv mounted

Being able to mount the TV over the fireplace cleaned up the room. We lost the furniture we were using as a tv stand in the flood but it's nice to not have to put it back.

Basement fireplace with stone in man cave

We gained so much space by removing the wall that we could finally push the couch back further away from the walls and use all the pieces of our existing sectional that didn't fit in the room before.

Man cave living room with stone fireplace

We switched our sofa table and chairs to the open side now for two level seating as well.

Basement mancave witb stone fireplace

Movie nights and sporting events are officially back in the man cave.

Basement man cave with stone fireplace

Just one space left from our basement remodel to share with you after this: the game space. Until then, here's a sneak peek.

Basement man cave with stone fireplace


Need a fireplace fix? Here's what we used.


Equipment: all affiliate links

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through one of the product links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!


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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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