Cover Up

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.

Fireplace Build Out

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.

Fireplace Build Out in Hall

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.

Fireplace Build Out Insert

The next morning, they carefully hoisted the insert, scooting it around to get it in place.

Fireplace Build Out Insert In

As I mentioned before, combustibles can’t be close to the insert, so Ben used steel studs to frame out everything below the mantle.

Fireplace Build Out with Concrete Board

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.

Fireplace Build Out with Cement Board Detail

Awkward angles of the surround won’t let us tile up to the insert, so we’ve got a small frame around.

Fireplace Build Out Steel Stud Framing

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.

Fireplace Build Out Slate 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?

25 thoughts on “Cover Up

  1. I love the convenience of our gas fireplace, but I grew up with a wood burning stove and it was such a warm, cozy heat that I am hoping we’ll have one, one day.
    It looks much better without the mirror!

  2. I’d prefer a gas stove, but we have a pellet stove I’m very happy with.
    The pellets are so cheap and are a renewable resource, plus a lot cleaner
    than wood I think. There’s still ash, but it’s minimal. I bought an excellent
    ash vacuum. Without it, I don’t think i’d even use the stove. But it saves
    a ton of money in heating (I have oil heat, but gas stove. One day I will get
    a gas furnace, but the oil furnace was new when I bought the house so
    going to stick it for a few more years at least.)

    1. Hi Tommi!

      We’ve never had a pellet stove, but looked at a few before settling on the wood insert. Would you mind sharing where you got the ash vacuum? I’m guessing it’s something hand held? I’d love to know more about it!


      1. Sure! It’s called the Bad Ash 2 (haha yes I think they inteded the pun). The version 1 plugs into your vac (i did not like that feature) but the version 2 is a self-contained unit. It’s not as powerful as a shop vac, but works perfectly fine for the job intended, plus its metal, which means it can handle occasional hot ashes, and has a huge HEPA filter. Anything beyond ash or soot, the suction isn’t great honestly. But I don’t use it for anything other than cleaning the stove or fire pit.

  3. I’m so excited for this project! We also have a fireplace that isn’t our style and have been tossing around ideas on how to fix it. Can’t wait for some visual inspiration! It’s looking better already.

  4. Looking forward to your progress reports. I had a gas stove that I loved! Unfortunately, our (new to us) house is all electric. If I ever consider a move, gas will be on my list of things to get. I really miss cooking with gas.

  5. Definitely the crackle of a real fire place… I have two fireplaces with gas logs… don’t like them…. and hardly ever turn them on.

  6. Looks fantastic!!! Well, the project may have had a rough start, but you would never know it now!! Can’t wait to see the tile finished. Think it might be finished in time for Christmas? Sounds like you might need the stove sooner, rather than later. I hear you are getting lots of snow in your neck of the woods. Our friends just moved there recently.

    1. Hey Hevel House!

      Aww, thanks! Um, I’m not sure when we’ll finish it. Hopefully we can work on it some more this weekend, but I doubt we’ll get it finished. 🙂 We’ve already built a small fire in there, just to test it out. 🙂


  7. Thanks for sharing your renovations. It’s really interesting to see, and you’re so lucky to be married to a hardcore handyman to do so much of this yourselves! I’d love to do the same thing one day. I would definitely have a real wood fireplace or stove in it; there’s nothing like the sight, sound, and smell of a real fire. I’m quite envious of your new home as well, it was a beautiful find. But I guess I’m more traditional, because I loved a lot of the stuff in it you hated! 😉 Bay windows, stone fireplace, big trees and windows… even the big mirror! But it’s been great watching you guys make it your own, and I hope you keep updating!

    1. Hi MEL!

      Yes, I’m definitely lucky to have such a smart, handy man around. 🙂 We didn’t necessarily hate the bay windows, they were just old and didn’t crank out or in. And we LOVE giant trees, just not when they’re too close to our house. We’re just happy to make some funtional/pretty (to us, haha) changes and can’t wait to share more as we go.


  8. Ben…you are a genius! Amanda…you’re one lucky girl! Together you’re the A-Team!! 😉 Your new fireplace rocks, and those slate tiles are to die for. Well done. Hx

  9. I have a wood burning insert but it had those 2 ugly doors and handles. I want to replace it and maybe just change the mantle and paint the stone. 🤷🏽‍♀️ We are not handy enough to do all this lol

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