We started the build of the fireplace right before Christmas, which is okay for us but of course for you – be aware that this is dusty work and takes some time! Your fireplace area will be down for a few days to a week, depending on your ability to devote time to the project.
Prep work was removing our original builder mantel and breaking off all the tile. This is dirty work – have your floor covered, wear junk clothes, and eye protection for those pieces that might shatter.
The mantel I sold in 24 hour for a very low price on Craigslist as I just didn’t want to junk it. Another option would be to donate to Habitat for Humanity, which we have done with other items.
The first part of the building stage was to lay the hearth stones. We are replacing the floor in this room with wood and opted to go with the stone down first, with the wood floor being added later. This is on a ground floor, family room with a cement floor.
Next we built out two columns from the fireplace wall. This are equal in size and frame the bottom part of the fireplace (below the mantel). These were built like a stand up box using 2×4’s at the corners and plywood as the face using a nail gun. Over this a wire mesh was applied and fastened using a staple gun.
Then a skim coat of mortar was applied over the wire and let to dry for 48 hours. A coat of mortar has to be applied in order for the next coat of mortar to stick.
While the bottom was drying, we made two other structural changes:
Part of the electrical change we made was we moving down the overhead light originally in the sofit. The future lights will be two sconces that are mounted above the wood mantel beam and are centered vertically over the stone pillars.
The recessed light was always a pain. I guess the original builder put it there so you could hang artwork and let it be illuminated; the only thing it really did was provide a harsh, unflattering light to a short wall, as well as getting into your eyes while you watched television!
Another change, was the lowering of the mantel. The original mantel was too high and anything placed on it could not be admired if you were sitting in the room. The new mantel height is also in better proportion with the wall height.
Another part of the prep was getting the mantel into shape. We did darken the wood using the Java gel stain color from American General because the wood we chose was lighter then we wanted. This ties it into the future floor and the staircase molding at the front entrance hall of the house.
The mantel weight will be supported by the two columns so no additional supports are needed.
At this point we are about Day 3 into the project and decided to take a day or two off so we could get holiday stuff done 🙂 Next post will be the wrap up of the stone and mounting the mantel.