I’m so excited about the progress I’ve made on my fireplace remodel! It’s finally starting to take shape and look like how I envisioned it. You can find all the posts for my fireplace remodel series here. This week, I worked on the fireplace surround. Now the brick is ready for tile, and the crumbling drywall is hidden behind smooth plywood. Soon I’ll be able to put the finishing touches on this beast of a project!
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In case you missed my previous posts about my fireplace remodel, here’s what I started with.
And after I attacked it with a hammer and chisel…
Then I built a new hearth…
I removed the front of the gas insert, which will be getting a new coat of black paint to cover up all that brass. I should have done that before I started demo, but couldn’t figure out how to get it off! Once I got the last screw out, it crashed to the floor. So glad I hadn’t laid my marble tile hearth yet!
Prepping the Brick Fireplace Surround for Tile
The old brick fireplace surround had a few chunks of mortar missing, as well as some chips taken out from removing the ugly peach marble tile.
Before I can cover up the brick with new, beautiful tile, I need to smooth out the surface. This is especially important with the mosaic tile I’ll be using. The smaller pieces would sink into the cracks and divots, making the tile uneven.
I started by giving the entire surface of the brick fireplace surround a good scrub with a wire brush, followed by the vacuum to suck up any dust.
Then I mixed up a small batch of thin-set mortar until it was the consistency of creamy peanut butter.
Using a small trowel, l smeared the thin-set over the brick. I found that the narrow trowel was much easier to use. I worked the thin-set into all the nooks and crannies of the brick, adding more when necessary to make the surface even.
When I had a large section of brick covered, I used the flat side of the larger tile trowel to skim off the excess.
I fiddled endlessly with the thin-set, knocking down any high points and filling in low ones. It was helpful to look at the fireplace surround from above to see if I missed a spot.
Now the surface of the brick is ready for tile!
Prepping the Outer Fireplace Surround for Trim
While the thin-set was drying, I moved on to the rest of the fireplace surround. I wanted a clean surface to apply the trim to later on, so I decided to clad the drywall with 1/4″ plywood.
Be sure to check with your local building code when applying flammable materials to a fireplace! National Fire Code states that they should be no closer than 6″ from the firebox opening, with an extra inch for every 1/8″ that it sticks out from the surface. Don’t burn your house down, please!
Before applying the plywood, I had to do a minor alteration to the baseboards on the sides of the fireplace. I used my multi-purpose oscillating tool with an end cut blade to widen the gap to a little over 1/4″ so I could fit the plywood snugly against the wall.
I had the plywood cut to size at the store, so it was a simple matter of attaching it to the fireplace surround with my Ryobi Airstrike brad nailer.
The seams and nail holes will be filled in with wood filler once I get to the trim stage. For now, I’m just admiring how far my fireplace has come!
Next week will be super exciting, because I finally get to install the tile! You know you’re getting closer to the finish line when you can start working with the pretty stuff!
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