NUMBER 1 TIP;  Make sure you have framed it right before closing in.  Read the fireplace manual.    Are the clearances to combustibles right, should there be steel studs instead of wood, does the unit, fan, remote, (everything) work ?  Last chance to check.

2.  Minimize joints.  Drywall sheets are typically applied horizontally.When framing, take into account material dimensions.  If you build an enclosure 5′ or less, this accomodates a 60″ x 32″ sheet of cement board (sometimes required) or a 10′ sheet of drywall cut in half.  If my enclosure is around 72″ or less, I buy a 12′ sheet and cut in half.  I often adjust my framing to match material dimensions.

3.  Don’t be afraid of using cement board as the smooth side can coated with a few skim coats of drywall mud (compound) and easily sanded.

4.  Put some speed into it.  I’m always fighting for time in a customer’s home.  I typically use Sheetrock 20 for most simple jobs and Sheetrock 90 if doing compplicated joints or more than two sheets.  The 20 and 90 refers roughly to minutes of drying time.

I can do three coats (the last coat a final skim coat with general purpose mud) in one day and can if the Gods are right, finish the next morning.  The compound dries chemically and as soon as it starts to set, discard it and mix new.  Mix compound, with water, in a small  metal or plastic box.  Clean thoroughly each time.

5.  Hold the mud.  Do several light coats instead of a few heavy ones.  Heavy coats are a guarantee to lots of sanding, joint visibility.

5.  Use inside, outside corners, capping and 180 beads made of paper embedded with steel.  This one step puts you on par with a professional.  You get perfect 90 degree finishes instead of using folded paper tape.


I’ll add more later and wouldn’t mind some reader tips.  Reach me at


Robin Hetherington

Leave a Reply