convert brick fireplace to tile?

Discussion in 'Home Repair' started by bob, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. bob

    bob Guest

    I have a brick fireplace like this:
    http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/28353179_QQL5kZ

    I don't like the bricks -- rough surfaces are hard to clean, and the hearth
    (brick floor) takes up alot of space.

    Can the brick hearth be simply pried off and replaced with a smaller tiled
    hearth? What is under the brick hearth, wood flooring like the rest of the
    room, or a block of concrete?

    Ideally, I would like to make the hearth into tiled, like in this picture:
    http://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj29/LaylaPalmer/Kerry Palmer/fireplace_makeover_25.jpg

    I'm planning to hire some contractor for this job but I want to understand
    how much work is involved.
     
    bob, Mar 9, 2013
    #1
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  2. bob

    Oren Guest

    On Sat, 9 Mar 2013 13:06:25 -0800, "bob" <> wrote:

    >I have a brick fireplace like this:
    >http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/28353179_QQL5kZ
    >
    >I don't like the bricks -- rough surfaces are hard to clean, and the hearth
    >(brick floor) takes up alot of space.
    >
    >Can the brick hearth be simply pried off and replaced with a smaller tiled
    >hearth? What is under the brick hearth, wood flooring like the rest of the
    >room, or a block of concrete?
    >
    >Ideally, I would like to make the hearth into tiled, like in this picture:
    >http://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj29/LaylaPalmer/Kerry Palmer/fireplace_makeover_25.jpg
    >
    >I'm planning to hire some contractor for this job but I want to understand
    >how much work is involved.


    This looks like gas faux fire place, used mostly for romance or
    emergency heat. No fire embers popping out on to the floor.

    I see a shut-off valve mounted on the floor, left side? Then I see a
    wood floor and carpet.

    Pull the left corner brick - you'll likely find a mortar bed.

    So I ask about the carpet around the brick. Just some thoughts for the
    contractor.

    I think you are on the right approach but how do you get there?
     
    Oren, Mar 10, 2013
    #2
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  3. bob

    Oren Guest

    On Sat, 09 Mar 2013 17:22:13 -0800, Oren <Oren@127.0.0.1> wrote:

    >On Sat, 9 Mar 2013 13:06:25 -0800, "bob" <> wrote:
    >
    >>I have a brick fireplace like this:
    >>http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/28353179_QQL5kZ
    >>
    >>I don't like the bricks -- rough surfaces are hard to clean, and the hearth
    >>(brick floor) takes up alot of space.
    >>
    >>Can the brick hearth be simply pried off and replaced with a smaller tiled
    >>hearth? What is under the brick hearth, wood flooring like the rest of the
    >>room, or a block of concrete?
    >>
    >>Ideally, I would like to make the hearth into tiled, like in this picture:
    >>http://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj29/LaylaPalmer/Kerry Palmer/fireplace_makeover_25.jpg
    >>
    >>I'm planning to hire some contractor for this job but I want to understand
    >>how much work is involved.

    >
    >This looks like gas faux fire place, used mostly for romance or
    >emergency heat. No fire embers popping out on to the floor.
    >
    >I see a shut-off valve mounted on the floor, left side? Then I see a
    >wood floor and carpet.
    >
    >Pull the left corner brick - you'll likely find a mortar bed.
    >
    >So I ask about the carpet around the brick. Just some thoughts for the
    >contractor.
    >
    >I think you are on the right approach but how do you get there?


    I looked back at your photos. Given that I might reconsider taking the
    brick out. Even with the warts I see, or I'm wrong.

    - The brick next to the exit of the door.

    - Finished trim (molding trim) sits atop the brick.

    - The face trim of the fireplace also sits on the brick.

    - Tells me not to take ALL the brick out, but most of the hearth?

    - In the end you still have brick on the floor.

    Tell us about what I think is a gas valve on the floor.
     
    Oren, Mar 10, 2013
    #3
  4. bob

    Oren Guest

    On Sun, 10 Mar 2013 07:40:13 +0000, nestork
    <> wrote:

    >3. Oren says he sees a wood floor (presumably in the corner beside that
    >"thing" set into the carpet). To my eye, it just looks like the carpet
    >is either bleached, stained or just dirty there because there's no clear
    >"gap" under the baseboard as you would expect if the carpet were
    >missing.


    I looked again. The light color seemed to look like wood, but as you
    say the carpet has some type of damage.

    Good catch.

    The silver piece on the floor looks exactly like my shut-off gas valve
    on my unit, but mine is mounted on a wall adjacent the fireplace.
     
    Oren, Mar 10, 2013
    #4
  5. bob

    Guest

    On Mar 10, 4:30 am, Oren <O...@127.0.0.1> wrote:
    > On Sun, 10 Mar 2013 07:40:13 +0000, nestork
    >
    > <> wrote:
    > >3. Oren says he sees a wood floor (presumably in the corner beside that
    > >"thing" set into the carpet).   To my eye, it just looks like the carpet
    > >is either bleached, stained or just dirty there because there's no clear
    > >"gap" under the baseboard as you would expect if the carpet were
    > >missing.

    >
    > I looked again. The light color seemed to look like wood, but as you
    > say the carpet has some type of damage.


    It looks to me like something may have been sitting on
    the carpet there for a long time and was just recently
    removed. That spot looks to me like it could be squashed
    down carpet.




    >
    > Good catch.
    >
    > The silver piece on the floor looks exactly like my shut-off gas valve
    > on my unit, but mine is mounted on a wall adjacent the fireplace.


    Yes, looks like a gas valve for a firelplace to me too.


    As for the main question, the brick on the floor is not
    a problem. If the rest of the floor is of wood construction,
    ie there is a basement or crawl space, then the brick is
    just mortared to the subfloor and can be easily removed.
    If there is slab under the floor in that room, then it's
    mortared to that and can be removed.

    The bigger question is the rest of the brick around the
    fireplace. With typical modern builder type fireplace,
    they use an insert for the fireplace and what goes around
    it is there for decoration and isn't part of the fireplace at
    all.

    Is the brick sticking out from the wall, either entirely
    or by the thickness of a brick minus maybe a 1/2"?
    Is it relatively new construction, not a converted old
    fireplace? If so, then the brick is just decorative and
    will come right off. What's inside the fireplace? Does
    the brick continue into the fireplace itself? If yes, then
    the brick is likely part of the actual fireplace structure
    and the work to change it could potentially be a lot
    more involved. However, since you're using tile, it's
    also very possible the tile could just go over the existing
    brick that's around the face of the fireplace, as long as
    the resulting increase in build-out doesn't cause problems.
    You just deal with that as part of the wood, mantle, etc
    that goes around the whole thing.

    All in all, from what I can see, this doesn't look like a
    huge project and it's probably straightforward.
     
    , Mar 10, 2013
    #5
  6. bob

    dadiOH Guest

    nestork wrote:
    >> Yes, looks like a gas valve for a firelplace to me too.

    >
    > I've never seen that kind of gas valve. Why would they put it in the
    > middle of the floor like that? Doing that would necessitate putting
    > some furniture over top of it to hide it. And, of course, it's gonna
    > be a pain in the butt to install any kind of flooring around it.


    Not hard to install anything around it because they are in two parts, top
    part - what you see - screws in and has a flange maybe 1/8 thick.. Install
    valve, install floor around it, cover floor with top part.

    No idea why it is out in left field like that. Best guess is that the
    wall - an exterior one - didn't lend itself to a gas pipe and valve.

    --

    dadiOH
    ____________________________

    Winters getting colder? Tired of the rat race?
    Taxes out of hand? Maybe just ready for a change?
    Check it out... http://www.floridaloghouse.net
     
    dadiOH, Mar 10, 2013
    #6
  7. bob

    Oren Guest

    On Sun, 10 Mar 2013 16:55:45 +0000, nestork
    <> wrote:

    >> Yes, looks like a gas valve for a firelplace to me too.

    >
    >I've never seen that kind of gas valve. Why would they put it in the
    >middle of the floor like that? Doing that would necessitate putting
    >some furniture over top of it to hide it. And, of course, it's gonna be
    >a pain in the butt to install any kind of flooring around it.


    These valves are installed on gas fireplace inserts. Common in my
    area, but the valve is in the wall, adjacent the fireplace and not
    left out on the floor. I've not seen one ever in the floor, though.

    Sample:

    <http://www.buyinghome.org/clip_image001_0003.jpg>

    They key is removed when not is use - other than off/on of the valve.
     
    Oren, Mar 10, 2013
    #7
  8. bob

    bob Guest

    The round thing with square hole is the valve for the gas fireplace. There's
    another fireplace in the family room with the same floor valve. I have no
    idea why it is put in the floor. The house was built in 1982; it may just be
    customary.

    It is a good point it would be a pain to place flooring around that valve --
    and I'm about to replace the carpet with hardwood floor --probably
    engineered wood floating.

    Above the valve is crushed carpet from a 10 pound weight (to hold down a
    sheet of plastic covering the fireplace).

    I pried off a corner brick and the front row of bricks is indeed sitting on
    a mortar bed on top of plywood subfloor.

    Below the fireplace is a crawlspace. I added some photos showing the
    fireplace in the crawlspace. Looks like there is some crooked concrete
    structure below the bricks. Is this standard way to support a fireplace?

    Another issue with removing the hearth is the legs of the wooden frame
    (mantel?) would then hang in the air. Could the mantel be removed, the
    hearth and faux brick wall removed, new tiled hearth put in, and then the
    mantel put back at a lowered level?

    Do I need to hire a fireplace contractor to do this, or would any general
    contractor/handyman be able to do this? I prefer the tiled hearth to be
    flushed with the floor (same level). Can the wood floor butt against the
    tiled hearth or do the wood floor need an expansion gap, which would be
    ugly.

    Should I do the wood floor first and then tile the fireplace, or tile the
    fireplace first and then the wood floor? Which is more likely to end up with
    a flushed floor?
     
    bob, Mar 15, 2013
    #8
  9. bob

    Guest

    On Mar 10, 12:55 pm, nestork <> wrote:
    > '[_2_ Wrote:
    >
    >
    >
    > > It looks to me like something may have been sitting on the carpet there
    > > for a long time and was just recently removed.  That spot looks to me
    > > like it could be squashed down carpet.

    >
    > When furniture legs leave depressions in a carpet, those are actually
    > called carpet "dents".  If that's a carpet dent, it's gotta be the worst
    > one I've ever seen.  It appears to crush the carpet pile (and presumably
    > the underpad beneath) right down to nothing, and then there's a further
    > square shaped depression right in the middle of the dent.


    You can't tell exactly what it is from the pics. But it could
    be that something heavy was sitting there, next to the
    fireplace.



    >
    > > Yes, looks like a gas valve for a firelplace to me too.

    >
    > I've never seen that kind of gas valve.



    They are very common here in the USA


    > Why would they put it in the
    > middle of the floor like that?



    Because it was a convenient spot when they were
    running the gas line? Not saying it's the best spot,
    but that's where it is.



     >Doing that would necessitate putting
    > some furniture over top of it to hide it.


    Only if you insist on hiding it. It's not the worst thing, IMO.



     >And, of course, it's gonna be
    > a pain in the butt to install any kind of flooring around it.


    Why? The carpet went right around it.



    >
    > The bigger question is the rest of the brick around the
    > fireplace.
    >
    > No, that brickwork wasn't done by a rank amateur.


    No one said it was.

    >  I expect that whoever did
    > it purchased extra bricks and had the faces cut off them so that the wall
    > "bricks" are only 3/8  to 1/2 inch thick or so and just stuck up on thewall
    > like ceramic tiles with mastic or thin set.


    You'd have to be nuts to go through all that. If you want
    thin veneer like brick or stone, it's available.


    > The fireplace itself simply
    > isn't strong enough to support the weight of real bricks above it,


    Who knows how any of it is or isn't supported.


    >and the
    > weight of real bricks would prevent you from being able to remove/replace
    > that fireplace.


    When was that a concern when building a fireplace?
    Plenty of fireplaces are not easy to rip out and put in a
    new one. A good reason for that is a decent real fireplace
    should last the life of the home. And an insert, well, it's
    an insert and can be replaced.


    > I think we can presume that the wall "bricks" are thin
    > enough to be supported by the drywall or tile backer board and purely
    > deorative.
    >
    > Is it relatively new construction, not a converted old
    > fireplace?  If so, then the brick is just decorative and
    > will come right off.
    >
    > I agree the brick is probably just stuck to the drywall.  But, removing
    > those faux bricks is probably going to muck up the drywall surface paper
    > necessitating the replacement of the drywall surrounding the fireplace.


    You really think so?


     No
    > big deal, but the homeowner says he wants to know what will be require so
    > far as work goes.
    >
    > He might want to consider simply tiling over top of the existing brick with
    > thin set.  Any ceramic material will be good in terms of dimensional
    > stability, and dimensional stability is what you need in any substrate for
    > ceramic tiling.
    >
    > All in all, from what I can see, this doesn't look like a huge project
    > and it's probably straightforward.
    > Yes, but I wouldn't nominate this as a first project for a >newbie.

     >This
    > would be one for a more experienced DIY'er cuz you're going to need to
    > drywall, set tile, and probably do something at the cut edge of the carpet.


    If you read the post, he's not proposing to do the work
    himself.





    > And since the fireplace is going to be the focal point of the room,
    > everything's gotta look well done.
    >
    > --
    > nestork


    Wow, you really think so?
     
    , Mar 15, 2013
    #9
  10. bob

    Guest

    On Mar 15, 1:17 pm, "bob" <> wrote:
    > The round thing with square hole is the valve for the gas fireplace. There's
    > another fireplace in the family room with the same floor valve. I have no
    > idea why it is put in the floor. The house was built in 1982; it may justbe
    > customary.


    The valve is typical. Where it's placed depends on the
    gas line routing, available locations, etc.



    >
    > It is a good point it would be a pain to place flooring around that valve--
    > and I'm about to replace the carpet with hardwood floor --probably
    > engineered wood floating.


    Any competent installer can deal with it, it;s no big deal.


    >
    > Above the valve is crushed carpet from a 10 pound weight (to hold down a
    > sheet of plastic covering the fireplace).



    Thank you. Exactly as I thought.


    >
    > I pried off a corner brick and the front row of bricks is indeed sitting on
    > a mortar bed on top of plywood subfloor.



    Bingo

    >
    > Below the fireplace is a crawlspace. I added some photos showing the
    > fireplace in the crawlspace. Looks like there is some crooked concrete
    > structure below the bricks. Is this standard way to support a fireplace?


    OMG! No!

    It's hard to tell exactly what they did, but it looks like a
    disaster waiting to happen. There doesn't seem to be
    much under the fireplace holding it. And it it goes, it's
    connected to a GAS LINE. IMO, that is the real serious
    problem here.


    >
    > Another issue with removing the hearth is the legs of the wooden frame
    > (mantel?) would then hang in the air. Could the mantel be removed, the
    > hearth and faux brick wall removed, new tiled hearth put in, and then the
    > mantel put back at a lowered level?


    Probably, depending on how the mantel is secured,
    what shape it's in when removed. Might be easier,
    cheaper, faster to just use a new one.



    >
    > Do I need to hire a fireplace contractor to do this, or would any general
    > contractor/handyman be able to do this?


    A general contractor should be able to handle it.




    >I prefer the tiled hearth to be
    > flushed with the floor (same level).  Can the wood floor butt against the
    > tiled hearth or do the wood floor need an expansion gap, which would be
    > ugly.


    I'd keep the tile just a bit above the floor and use a trim
    piece of wood around it. That makes the install a lot
    easier. It's going to be hard to set the tile at exactly the
    same height as the floor, cut everything to fit perfectly,
    etc. A trim piece takes car of that.


    >
    > Should I do the wood floor first and then tile the fireplace, or tile the
    > fireplace first and then the wood floor? Which is more likely to end up with
    > a flushed floor?


    Do the fireplace first.
     
    , Mar 15, 2013
    #10
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