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Old 12-26-2011, 10:27 PM   #1
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How to cover an old coal fireplace?


My house has three fireplaces that will never be used. This one is in a guest bedroom. The bed will always be backed up against it because that is the only place a bed will fit in that room. I'd like to keep the mantel because it frames the headboard nicely and provides a useful shelf.

My questions: How could I cover up the opening? Are there any code restrictions to be aware of if I try to cover it?

I only want something that would seal it off, hold in some insulation, and look halfway decent if someone happens to crawl under the bed.

Other possibly useful information:
  • The bottom recessed section is just the plastered wall painted white. The flat area above it appears to be a piece of painted plywood.
  • Inside is an old capped off gas line from the basement that was used for a space heater years ago.
  • The "drip cap" like thing on the cast iron surround protrudes about 2 inches from the wall.



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Old 12-27-2011, 02:29 PM   #2
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How to cover an old coal fireplace?


I think this is what I'm going with, unless someone says it's way off base or has a better idea.

Make a frame out of 2x3's with a 2"x2" strip along the bottom at the hearth. Add two blocks out from wall on either side of opening at the bottom for support. Attach frame to the plaster wall just inside the trim on the bottom. This should just clear the insert.

To attach frame, drill 3/8" holes down into the edges of the 2x3's, say an inch deep, and sink 3" screws in these holes and screw into the wall. They should be going into plaster, then wood lath, total about 1" thick, if it's like the rest of the wall. Cover the frame with a piece of plywood and paint white.

This area measures 3'x3'. Would 1/4" plywood be stiff enough to bridge 3' with no center support and not bow in or out? Or should I use thicker?

Sorry I tend to obsess over little things like this.


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Old 12-27-2011, 02:42 PM   #3
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How to cover an old coal fireplace?


Is the chimney itself capped off at the top, and if not are there any other active fireplaces or appliances using the chimney? If it is capped off and not used at all then you can really do anything you like to seal it off, including bricking it up.

I do find it odd however that you'd want to make it look good for anyone crawling under the bed. That strikes me as a little OCD.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:05 PM   #4
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How to cover an old coal fireplace?


Thanks Ironlight. Brick is beyond my capabilities. No other fireplaces will ever be used. However a gas water heater vents up through the chimney from the basement. There are several channels in this chimney, one for each (3) fireplace, I think. The chimney is coming out next time I roof.

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Originally Posted by Ironlight View Post
I do find it odd however that you'd want to make it look good for anyone crawling under the bed. That strikes me as a little OCD.
I was sort of trying to be funny. It's just that there's no in-between. It either looks decent or it looks crummy. I just can't go with crummy even if I'm the only one who knows about it. Not OCD, but maybe a little OCPD.

Last edited by NancyNGA; 12-27-2011 at 10:30 PM.
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