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Fireplace Remodel: Part 1 of Destroying My New Condo

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This past Friday I finally closed escrow with my condo. I wasted no time in getting in there to start making changes that I wanted for my new home.  I really wanted to go in and paint the walls right away but figured the intelligent thing to do was prepare the fireplace for a reface first. This way if I damage any drywall, which I anticipated (and did), I could replace that and paint over the new drywall as well.

Preparing the fireplace meant removing the ugly mantle and removing the brick hearth. I recommend using the following  four tools: chisel, hammer, pry bar and brute strength.

The ugly fireplace in its original glory. The plan was to install a mantle across the top, preferrably one that is slightly less boxy than this one…and to put in a tile hearth that would be flush with the new laminate flooring.

Brute strength hard at work…

Finally removed the brick hearth. Got a broom and swept up the dust, mortar, and grout. Took about an hour to complete this work.

The next step was removing the mantle which we thought was one solid piece of wood that did not sound or feel like wood when we touched it (so I don’t know why we assumed it was wood…). It turned out to be a drywall mantle which I thought was rather odd, but I’m not an expert so I don’t know if this is actually common or not.

We pulled out all the metal drywall corner joints and then removed the drywall which revealed the wood frame for the mantle. Again, this was easily removed using the pry bar and brute strength.

This is a picture of the mantle fully removed and drywall shavings all over the place. As you can see, some of the drywall needs to be replaced.

Drywall is easy to replace and its cheap. REALLY cheap. It just seems like a lot of work which it is, but it’s easy work that just takes a long time. Make sure to check the width of the drywall as they mostly come in 1/2″ and 5/8″. I made the mistake of buying 5/8″ because thats the thickness in the master bedroom but the one located around the fireplace was actually 1/2″. The only damage done was wasted time and  about 1/2 gallon of gas wasted.

This is a picture of me scoring the drywall on both sides, then the piece you want is easily snapped off. This is also the last picture as my camera ran out of batteries and I was forced to stop my awesome documentary of fireplace remodeling.

It does take a while but it is well worth it. The plan is to tile over the existing brick veneer and install a tile hearth which is flush to the laminate flooring that I will be putting in. As far as the mantle, I will only be replacing the top portion of it and not having anything on the left side. I fireplace looks too goofy already not being symmetrical on both sides and only having the mantle come down on the left. We’ll see how it looks when I keep going next weekend!

NOTES: Make sure to have a face mask , gloves and safety glasses whenever you are doing any demo work. I luckily had a face mask which saved my lungs from fine dust particles, but forgot to put them on once after taking a break… bad idea! I left my safety glasses in the other car so did not have them for the day but luckily my chinky eyes naturally block 99.9% of all fine dust particles anyway.

Also, the chisel I purchased had a thick rubber safety plate to cover over your hand to protect against a misplaced hit from the hammer. Knowing my luck and past history of striking precious appendages with the hammer I decided this was a good idea… I hit the safety guard about 10+ times. My fingers agree that the safety guard was a good call on my part. Safety first!


Approximate Costs: $22
$6 – Drywall 5/8″  for 4’x8′ section(mistake!)
$5 – Drywall 1/2″ for 4’x8′ section
$5 – Drywall saw
$3 – Chisel
$3 – Pry bar

Damage/Injury Report:
– 2 holes in the wall from “testing” out the pry bar and getting carried away with prying things
– cut my thumb with the drywall saw trying to “test” it on a small piece of drywall…definitely not one of my brightest moments

I should really stop testing things. Until next time… Cheers.

Written by jonewantsm3

March 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Posted in Home

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