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Refacing a fireplace

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Posts: 1719
Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 2:01 pm   Post subject: Refacing a fireplace

Have any of you had any experience with refacing a brick fireplace? I have one upstairs and one down, and while the upper one looks pretty good with flagstones, the lower is very icky plain brick with kitchen linoleum in front of it where people would normally put stone to catch any sparks.

We're going to be putting in a chocolate-brown gas fireplace, and I've chosen some brown and copper tiles, found a new mantle that actually fits it (unlike the heapo-cheapo prefab one that was glued up there before) and finished it in copper metallic, but now I'm a bit stuck - also unsure what to do with the brick portion being off-center from the fireplace I just stucco over the rest of the brick to make it "centered?" Use wallboard? Hide it with a large plant?

I'm grateful the bricks weren't painted so they should have good adhesion with whatever comes next, but I'm rather at a loss as to the next step. Do I install the fireplace first or last? Does the mantle come before or after the tile? Is it hard to tile things yourself or should I call a handyman who does this sort of thing? Is it hard to cut tile evenly if it's a weird measurement up against the wall?

Shocked Immobilized by inexperience here...

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i love bugs

Dublin Ireland
Posts: 482
Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 2:17 pm   

Laughing Great description (heapo cheapo prefab )
It is usual to put the mantle on first then tile , then install fireplace . I'm not sure what you mean by the brick portion being off centre (maybe send me a pic) You should get good adhesion on unpainted bricks . Tiling is not hard to do, you can hire a tilecutter in any hire shop . But consider this Laughing if you make a mistake you will be looking at it every time the fire is on. Why dont you get a quote from the handyman .

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Posts: 1719
Posted: Thu May 18, 2006 7:45 pm   

Here's a shot from before I took down the old mantle - isn't it icky?

You give me hope already, which comes first, chicken or the egg was baffling me. Razz

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Belmont, CA
Posts: 2
Posted: Wed May 23, 2007 4:20 am   Post subject: sequence of installation for fireplace remodeling

It does look like your fireplace could use some help. Off balance fireplaces are common, and so I have to deal with them a lot.

The building code allows you to affix flammable material (like your wood mantle) to the fireplace outside of the surround area, so you can use a variety of materials, including gypsum drywall (wallboard, sheetrock, etc, which are not technically "non-combustible"), plaster, or even wood paneling. Read your local code carefully before using wood - it will read something like "no flammable materials within 6 inches of the firebox, and maximum projection of 1/8" per inch from firebox" with exceptions for larger firebox sizes. If in doubt, run your plans by the building office - in my area, they don't require a permit, but the rules should still be followed.

In most cases for a wall-like finish over unpainted flat brick I use 1/4 sheetrock, affixed with a non-flammable (after curing) panel adhesive, then taped and textured just like your walls. Plaster would work well, too, but would be harder for the homeowner to get on smoothly.

Cutting tile is easy with the proper tools, and the proper tool here is a wet saw with a diamond blade, which can be rented at just about any rental yard. Check the capacity of the saw against the tile size you are using, particularly if you are doing diagonal cuts.

I'm sure you are already planning on this, but you need to replace the linoleum with something noncombustible too - tile, stone slabs, concrete... linoleum isn't appropriate, and a building inspector will not be happy about it.

Unlike the previous poster, my preference is to set the tile before installing the mantel. After setting the tile, I take finished measurements and built the mantel to fit. This allows me to get a perfect fit, in particular paying attention to the depth of the tile vs. the depth of the pilasters or apron on the mantel. Also, I don't have to worry about being careful with the woodwork when working with cement, and grout.

Since you are starting with a purchased mantle, your application may be different - just pay attention to where the surround facing will end up after tiling, and set your mantle accordingly - you may need to shim it out a bit from the wall to make the apron meet the tile in a pleasing manner.

As far as the gas insert goes, there are a few different options, and a lot will depend on the specific insert. Some are custom made to fit inside the opening, and you can install your tile after installing them, using the tile to cover the invariable gap between the insert and the brick. Sometimes I'll install the tile first, wrapping around into the opening and being very careful to get everything straight and square so that an insert will fit perfectly, or a simple screen can be used instead. Some inserts have a flange that sits over the surround, and that would be installed after tiling. In any case, I'd pick the insert first, then plan your tiling accordingly so that it will look good.

One quick note - be careful using premixed tilesetting adhesives or thinset - some are not rated for high-temperature applications, and should not be used in the surround area.

Reinhardt Quelle

PS.. Icky? I've seen a _lot_ worse!

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