Fireplace Upgrade..and Some Surprises

The last time my husband and I updated our fireplace was last year when we were living in our townhome. We gave that fireplace a facelift with some fresh tile, paint and a new marble hearth. We were only able to enjoy it for a couple of months before renting to our tenants but I still love the way it came out! You can read about that DIY Project Here.

The fireplace in our current home is much different. It’s covered in brick, much larger and is used for real fires instead of gas. (One day randomly, a women who used to live in our home when she was 4 years old dropped by and told me the story about how her dad built the house and fireplace. She said the fireplace looked similar to how she remembered it over 60 years ago!) I know this meant it needed a bit of an upgrade. 😊 We wanted to keep this project as inexpensive as possible since we had (still have actually) many other projects to complete throughout the house.

This fireplace had an electrical insert when we first moved in. But we love the coziness of real fires so we removed the insert and got a grate before remodeling.

A quick paint job, an updated mantel and some decor items was what I was envisioning. But there was a little more to this project than just that. We bought our house knowing there was a leak in the fireplace/chimney and had that fixed right away. But what we didn’t know was that the leak had been there for years and years causing moisture ants to take up residence behind the wall.

Luckily we discovered the ants because my husband wanted to add an outlet above the fireplace for our TV which meant removing the drywall and rewiring the electrical outlet close by. When he removed the drywall, we discovered the most disgusting amount of ants hidden behind the wall where the leak used to be (way more than in the photo even!). He used a shock vac to vacuum all the ants up and then we left the drywall off for a couple of days to ensure everything was completely dry and no longer leaking.

Yikes! After that mess my husband added an electrical outlet to the center of the wall, added new drywall, learned how to do knockdown texture and then painted everything. He is incredible! From there him and my father-in-law used pine boards to extend the mantel, taking inspiration from this blog to make it look a bit more modern. I found these Wood Sheets on Amazon which we used to cover the seams on the ends for a perfect match.

We added some Wall Sconces and Puck Lights, found this Crate&Barrel Fireplace Screen on Offer Up for 50 bucks! and added some decor items that we had stuck in boxes from the past couple of months. And here is our fireplace now.

Clean, fresh, updated and most importantly….ANT FREE (And our pup Edgar loves it too)!

DIY Fireplace Makeover

My husband and I decided to redo the fireplace when we were putting in our new floors. This was our first tile project and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

Tile: The first step was to remove the hearth and surrounding beige tile. My husband used a sawzall to do this and was pretty proud of himself when the hearth came out in one piece. (Don’t mind the huge red wine stain on the carpet – I knocked over a full glass a couple of days before this photo was taken and decided to just leave it there since we were tearing out the carpet anyway)

One easy thing we did once Tommy took off the old tile was clean the fireplace glass! I just used windex. It’s crazy how much better this alone makes it look.

Next it was time to cut, measure and nail on the cement board. Tommy found the best way to cut cement board is to score it, then snap it. He used a diamond bit to drill through and then installed with flat head nails so the tile could go over smoothly. After the cement board was up, we measured and created a template of the fireplace using tape on the floor so we would know exactly where to cut each piece.

Then it was time to cut the tile! We used a large wet saw rented from a nearby rental equipment store (also took a break for a bomb lunch).

I used a lot of adhesive to put the tile on (probably too much but again, first time doing this). The tape around the fireplace helped ensure no glue got on and made for an easy clean up.

After a couple days, we applied a grout sealer/cleaner, let it dry then started grouting (applying the sealer before helped ensure the grout didn’t stick to the tile and makes it easier to clean off after). We made sure to use unsanded grout, since the lines are narrow and we didn’t want to scratch the tile.

Then after it dried for about 20 minutes, we cleaned it off and used the same sealer from before to seal the grout lines. Next it was time to tackle the hearth and fireplace surroundings.

Materials Used to Tile:

Hearth: We decided to do a large marble slab to match the herringbone tile for the fireplace hearth. We designed and cut the template ourselves to save money and had this custom piece made for our fireplace. We splurged on real marble but we love how it came out! Hearth Cost: $250

Materials: My husband built and painted the mantel surroundings using scrap trim pieces + paint we had on hand. We removed our top corner insert, gave it a fresh coat of paint and secured it back on.

Total cost for DIY Fireplace Makeover: $481