Refinish an Old Brick Fireplace
LESLIE: Lisa in New Jersey wants to refinish a fireplace. Tell us about what it looks like now.
LISA: Old looking.
LESLIE: (chuckling) OK.
LISA: It’s red brick (chuckles) and it has – the cement in between the bricks is discolored and it’s cracking. It has a couple old vents on the front of it. It’s about six – I think six or seven feet wide and as high as the ceiling, which is probably about eight or nine feet. And it just looks dilapidated and I think it detracts from the room. We’d like to refinish it with a stone front or we’re not quite sure what and we’re not quite sure if it’s something we can do ourselves or if we need to hire someone to do it and I’m just looking for some pointers.
LESLIE: I think it really depends on the material that you’re interested in. You know, there’s a lot of products that are manufactured to be stone. Owens-Corning, for example, makes one called Cultured Stone and their website, simply, is CulturedStone.com. And they offer a variety of different profiles from a ledgestone to a river rock and these are fantastic for an application on a fireplace or even an exterior of a home. If you want to go natural stone you’re going to be dealing with something that’s a lot heavier and, therefore, a little bit more of a feat of engineering in how to install it. I know even with the Owens Corning stuff — you know, I’ve installed it; it’s easy to do — they do recommend that a pro does it just to make sure that it really is adhered well and done in a proper way. You can do it either way on your own. Both really do deliver a beautiful look and if you’re tired of that brick it’s the quickest way to update it.
LISA: Mm-hmm. Does the Owens stone come with instructions that might be fairly easy for a layperson like myself and my husband to follow?
LESLIE: Their website has amazing directions. They are very simple to understand. I think where it gets a little tricky is when we’re talking about it for a home’s exterior and you’re dealing with certain types of adhesives and certain types of fasteners. You do need to get it through a distributor and they would also be able to talk you through the installation process and give you all of the installing materials as well. But also head over to a local building material and look at their stone yard and chat with them about the type of concrete to use as your adhesive and the type of stone that you’re interested in. You know, one might be more cost effective than the other for your budget and one might be also easier to install, but both will give you a beautiful look.
LISA: Do you have any ideas for grates or – right now we just have – they look like old register grates that are on the front.
LESLIE: Are you looking for something a little bit more vintage or classic or architectural?
LISA: I would say – I wouldn’t – I’d say classic; not vintage. I mean, you know, if it’s a stone fireplace I don’t want anything that’s ornate. But you know, just something that’s more – aesthetically, more pleasing than what I have now; which I know you can’t see, but …
LESLIE: There’s a good website – it’s Van Dyke’s Restorers – and they have a lot of architectural elements from hinges to doorknobs to registers to radiator grates that are a lot more aesthetically pleasing than just the standard stuff you’d find at a local home center.
LISA: Well, thank you. That’s a good start for us.
TOM: Lisa, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.