Jan 12, 2011

Funky Fireplace Keeping You in the Cold?

A fireplace in a room is usually the first place an eye will fall upon when grazing a room.  It is a focal point that stands out and is usually the pride of the room, the king of the thrown, the warmth to any house.  Unfortunately for us, our fireplace is ugly...really ugly.  Eyes wander the room and don't just fall upon it, they crash upon it.  It is a hideous site of  veneered brick and missing mortar...I mean, completely missing mortar.  As if the previous owners decided to glue brick veneer to the wall and forgot to finish the project.  A truly dreadful site...until this week!  This project is not complete (big surprise, I know) but it is in the stages of getting there so I now bring you Part 1 of the Fireplace Remix.

Here is what we started with:

My Uncle Greg (UG from here on out) came to do give me a tutorial on how to Tuck Point the joints.  As you can see from above it had never been done and it would look awful once I painted everything.  Our first job was to replace the missing brick veneer with one I had found in the garage - thank goodness the previous owners had left that behind.  With a nice blob of Liquid nails on the back UG held it in place for a few minutes to set up.

We had a few other loose bricks to fix up and then we were on to mixing the mortar.   Mix mortar as directed on the bag/bucket.  When it is mixed it should look a little something like this:

Mortar should be able to stick to the spatula thingy-not too dry not too runny

Once your mortar is mixed you move on to filling the gap between the bricks like so:

Go slow but not too slow - you don't want your mortar to dry up!  Also, because bricks are porous and like to soak in water you should keep a spray bottle of water handy and spray them down to keep them moist - not wet but moist.  That will keep the bricks from soaking up the water in the mortar which would leave the mortar dry and crumbly.  This is a slow process and will require some patience! 

As the mortar starts to dry - about 15 - 20 minutes after packing it into the joints - you can go back and strike it with like so:

Striking the mortar leaves those nice indented gaps in the mortar.  It makes it look more uniform but is really for water to have a path down a brick wall instead of soaking i through the bricks...remember bricks are porous!  Since the fireplace is inside the weather report calls for little chance of rain however we kept with the striking...it looks more polished this way. 

So thats it - fill the gaps, fill the gaps, fill the gaps, go back and strike the mortar.  Fill the gaps, fill the gaps, fill the gaps, go back and strike the mortar.  You'll get the hang of it!  UG did the majority of the work and then at the last minute I came to finish it up:

After the last line was struck UG told me to wait until the morning and then take a brush, like in the above pic, and run it over the fireplace in the morning to get all the crumbly extra bits of mortar off.  If you do it too soon chunks will fall out and you will have to re-mortar so don't bother skipping this step.  You can, however, improvise in the morning like I did:

That flimsy brush wasn't doing wonders for me so I set it aside in favor of my handy painting tool that I use for almost anything.  If I was MacGyver this would be my duct tape.  I just scrape scraped away.  What we have now resembles a little something like this:

How bout a little Before and After?

It truly makes a world of difference!  Though it is not complete it is much further along than 3 days ago!  Our next step is to prime and paint...I cant wait!!!  Anyone else beautifying their fireplace??  Drop me a line and let me know how it goes!


Update - You can check out the Fireplace Remix Part 2 by clicking here.  Part 3 will have paint and hopefully a mantle to balance things out-I'll keep you posted!
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