How to Update a Fireplace
LESLIE: Next up, we’re going to take a call from Laurie in Texas who wants to update her fireplace.
Laurie, how can we help?
LAURIE: Hello. What I have as a problem here is I have a burnt orange brick fireplace. It’s the same color as the house brick that’s on the outside. And I have mauve carpet and I want to see how I can approach redoing the fireplace and the mantle and the hearth with marble or granite. And do I need to cover it with cement or what do I need to do to get started on a project like that?
LESLIE: Well mauve and orange don’t necessarily go together in all of the best ideas.
TOM: No, I think on the color wheel, they’re pretty much on opposite ends. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Maybe if you added a brown in there it might work. OK.
LAURIE: I was thinking what I wanted to do is eventually change the carpet and put white tile down.
LESLIE: Oh, that sounds lovely.
TOM: That’ll be pretty.
LAURIE: And put like – around the fireplace itself, just put some black marble and then white marble on the bottom.
TOM: Right. Generally, when you have a fireplace or you have decorating elements that are really hard to change – I think you’re making the right approach because you’re basically trying to decorate around what you have. And by replacing your carpet with tile and trying to add decorative elements like mantles working with the structure that you have, those are the least expensive ways for you to improve that look.
Now Leslie, what do you think about her idea of going with tile on top of this?
LESLIE: Well I think the brick provides a good surface. Generally it’s level, so you’ll have a good area to put an adhesive on for any sort of marble or any other tile that you might have. And the benefit of not having anything else on the fascia of the fireplace, as sort of as an existing wood or anything, is that you can make that tile portion as wide as you want – meaning as wide as the tile that already comes – so you don’t have to worry about cutting tile. You can take that marble that you like, which generally comes in 12×12 squares, and put a 12×12 piece on it.
And then on the opposite, on the outer side of the 12×12 tile, you can take wood and create a wooden mantle and wooden fascia for the fireplace leading up to the mantle; which would be great because if you were to buy any sort of decorative fireplace front, it would be very expensive. But you can buy different components and wood in your molding aisle at your home improvement store and create levels upon levels and layers upon layers of different sort of decorative elements to make it look like a historical piece or as modern as you like it to be, depending on what decorative elements you get. So I think covering over the brick is a great idea. And if you do some research into some sort of historical mantles or different types of fireplaces in, say, historical buildings or some sort of time period that you like, you can probably replicate that for a really minimal amount of money.
LAURIE: Another problem that I have is this is a gas fireplace and there is a dial where I guess you’re supposed to put a key in to turn on the gas.
TOM: Yeah, that’s the access point to the gas valve. Now as long as you leave that accessible – don’t cover that; you need to leave access to that particular area – you’ll be OK; as long as the key can fit in there and reach the gas valve.
LESLIE: Yeah, even if that falls where your marble tile would be or in a wood area – if that’s something that you’re interested in – you can just drill a hole, with an auger bit, that’s the exact size as the key that would be to fit in there. And no matter what that depth is, you should still be able to get your key in. Just make sure you leave access to that.
LAURIE: I could just probably put maybe just a dowel rod shaved down to put in there and just cover over it.
TOM: No. No, no, no. Because you need actual room for the gas key. Yeah, inside that hole there’s going to be a gas valve that has a square – it looks like a square nut. And the key basically looks like one of those old-fashioned windup kind of keys – it’s wide on one end – and it has a hex, it has like a square shank on it and it fits around that and you twist it to turn the gas valve on or off. So you need to leave a hole to access that.
Now if you’re going to put tile over it, like Leslie said, you can drill a hole; you can use a tool called a RotoZip and actually cut a hole in it that’s circular or any shape you want. But leave access to that. You’re not adding that much thickness there, so you’ll still be able to access it just fine.
OK, Laurie? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.