The great fireplace cover up has begun. After a day of being annoyed that we couldn’t remove the rock, Ben decided on a plan of attack. It involves wood 2 by 4s, steel studs, plywood, and concrete backer. First, he started with the wood studs, building a frame slightly larger than the deepest rocks around the top and sides. Combustibles shouldn’t be too close to the insert, so we have a slightly higher than we’d like mantle. The bottom of the 2 by 4 is where the bottom of the mantle will start.
A 2 by 6 box (basically a very short version of a wall) makes up the base of the hearth, which is sturdy enough to support the weight of the 600 pound insert.
In the hall, the framing is minimal to keep the walkway wide and show as much of the inlay floors as possible.
Then Ben had the pleasure of installing the new duct work, with plenty of annoyances and obstacles along the way. Finally, time to haul up the beast, I mean insert. Ben and Handy Sammy loaded it on a dolly, hefting it up, one stair at a time. I pulled in the dolly, trying to help, but I couldn’t get it to budge. Luckily, the guys are much stronger and got it up the stairs without hurting themselves or the house.
The next morning, they carefully hoisted the insert, scooting it around to get it in place.
As I mentioned before, combustibles can’t be close to the insert, so Ben used steel studs to frame out everything below the mantle.
Oh, and we took down the huge mirror. Fortunately four clips held it in place, so there’s no wall damage. Oddly enough, the room feels bigger without the mirror reflecting the kitchen. A layer of concrete board on top and we’re ready for tile.
Awkward angles of the surround won’t let us tile up to the insert, so we’ve got a small frame around.
Speaking of tile, we chose 1 foot by 2 foot black slate tiles at Home Depot. Why? Because we’re suckers for natural stone, love the color, subtle color differences, the matte finish, and the price. Most importantly, the dark tile should better disguise soot or ash from the wood fireplace. Had we gone with a gas insert, we would have chosen a lighter tile.
To balance out the dark tile, we’ll paint the upper part and hall side white. Best of both worlds then.
What’s your favorite tile? Do you prefer the convenience of a gas fireplace? Or the crackle of a wood fire?