I want to put up a stone veneer surround, around a gas fireplace we're going to install. I've seen everything from using 1/2" plywood and a metal lath, to putting the tiles directly on drywall. I have everything apart so I want to do this the best way.

The tiles/stones I will be using are quite heavy as they are real stone and not "manufactured stone".

Items in play: - Weight - heavier tiles - heat - over and around a fireplace - Indoor

3 Answers 3


Drywall is out of the question due to weight, plywood might not give you the proper adhesion.

I would start with cement board, then attach the metal lath to that. After the metal lath is secure, you'll have to apply a scratch coat of a sand and cement mix before applying the stone.

Here is a good guide for applying stone veneer.

  • 2
    definitely start with a concrete board backer, avoid plywood in areas that may have heat issues, two reasons, fire danger and excessive expansion or contraction due to wide ranges of temp. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 7:30
  • Good point shirlock, I overlooked that he was installing it near a fireplace.
    – Tester101
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 12:54
  • No problem tester, you are usually right on. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 19:53

If you are using real Stone, one thing to consider, the wall doesn't support the weight , it just hold it from moving horizontally, any real Stone need a firm base to sit on like a heart or Concrete slab like your floor . This is called vertical load. The only attachment you need on the wall is a wall tie and a 8 penny nail. There should always be a hollow cavity behind the stone when laying. The wall tie is the mechanical anchor that transfers to the wood stud framing or shear wall. Fake Stone or stucco Stone is a totally different application, where cement board or lath is more commonly used.


If you use cement board, you'll want to use a polymer modified mortar or thinset for the installation. If you use plywood, you'll need to install a weather resistant barrier, metal lath and put up a scratch coat. They both have there pros and cons, but I would probably recommend cement board. Make sure its actually cement board and not a composite board like hardybacker. Unfortunately stone veneer tends to sheet off on composite board unless it's installed with a very good bonding mortar or thinset.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.