Hello everyone.. just wanted to drop by and introduce myself and maybe get a few tips on my upcoming project that's going to start in about a week. My wife, daughter, and our St Bernard live in the mountains of Virginia in a ski resort setting.. Our home is about 2700sqft, 1 1/2 stories with a full walkout basement. Currently our sources of heat are a heat pump, and a small wood-burning fireplace on the first level.. Let's just say that we rarely have had electric bills below $250 a month in the winter months, and we burn a cord or so of firewood as well in the fireplace. The basement is currently unfinished, and without any insulation stays pretty cold. Very inefficient to say the least. So my project for the next few months is to make the house a little more energy efficient and lower some of those heating bills. So we have decided to finish the basement and put a small pellet stove in one of the corners that is above the ground. I have never built a hearth before, but am pretty experienced with most aspects of construction. The floor in the basement is just a concrete at this point, and will be covered in hardwood. But my thoughts on the hearth were to just use metal studs to frame up the base, with 2 layers of duroc on top, thinset in between; then lay cultured stone on top of that. For the walls, I was going to duroc a 3 foot wide section out from the corner in each direction, and then just thinset and cultured stone the walls to the ceiling as well. (Our fireplace upstairs was done in stone, and we really want to keep it looking similar). Would this work? Would it be efficient? And what kind of mortar should be used to lay the stone and fill the gaps? Also, is cultured stone ok to use on the base? My stove requirements do not include any R-values at all, and require 6 inches from the front of the stove to a combustible material. The stove piping will be vertical inside a few feet, then go horizontal out the wall.. (we have pretty strict requirements on external pipes and such on the house). Anyhow thanks for the great forum so far.. I'm enjoying reading through all of the posts about building a hearth, and I think it's going to be a fun project..