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robdville 11-10-2008 07:17 AM

Fireplace framing/tile issue
Please forgive me in advance for posting in two cats; I submitted yesterday to the Remodeling section, but 21 views generated not one response. -I'm hoping to have better luck here?

Original Post

Hi guys, Friday night my wife and I started the overdue process of remodeling our living room. As seen below; the room was covered in dated, painted paneling.

In the process of removing that, I found issue w/the fireplace as seen in the photo.

While we weren't completely fond of it; the surface was tolerable. However after removing the panels over the fireplace I found that the tile covered brick wall was not fastened in several locations and I was able to move the wall w/one hand. As expectant first time parents; perhaps we're overly paranoid, but better to be safe, I say.

This is a wood burning fireplace, but very little heat escapes the box -I've not measured, I speak only from experience -to boot, it's used very little.

Here is a pic, post demo:

What I'd like to do is resurface the base in some type of natural slate and the riser as well. My original idea was to frame from wood, drywall or w/e board is required then natural slate as well. However, people have mentioned to me that heat may be an issue for the wood framing.

That is my first question; If I were to frame from wood in the area w/green circles, wrap in drywall then tile. -Do I run risk of fire/combustion?

If yes, then what should I do w/brick risers either side of the fireplace? -As you can see, they are about .5" above the base. My initial plan was to chisel away; is this a viable option?

If so, plan B was to tile the base and the riser flat to the wall as opposed to framing.

What is my best option in this case?

Finally, because of the large openings in the wall, and fair depth, I would like to frame enclosures for a HTPC and receiver (behind TV) and Sat rec/DVD player below TV.

I venture to say heat will not be an issue as the insulation is not charred etc :-).

Again, all this will be finished in slate (the lowes kind :-) ) I welcome any opinions and advice.

I'm more concerned w/how to handle the surround. -I think my plan for the components will work.

Thanks in advance,

R Davis

James Con 11-10-2008 11:09 AM

Alot depends on if the fireplace has to maintain a set clearance from combustibles. Is the fireplace an insert type where it can be close to combustibles if so you need to get the manual or look on the box somewhere for the clearances. And also the electronics shelf you plan on putting in the wall might be too close to the stack in the wall. Just some things to check out before you push forward. Also just because you never had a problem with it before doesn't mean it is safe, Perfect example is the brick ties. If they skimped there I can imagine what it might look like in the wall. Just double check everything for safety sake.

robdville 11-10-2008 11:41 AM

James, thank you for the reply; you couldn't be more right about cutting corners.

I have checked the wall; below is a pic w/insulation pulled. Initially I agreed w/you about the vertical pipe, but now I'm not sure. The vertical studs were pretty close and the stuffed w/insulation to boot.

Re: the fireplace, I do believe it is an insert type; as to model#s -where can I typically find that? -Getting to the back side of this is not really an option as rooms have been added to the back of the house which have enclosed the fireplace.

Lastly, the wife and I found these yesterday @ Lowe's, which I would like to add to the front of the box (black area) -thus eliminating the need for studs/drywall around it. -realizing of course that I have to chisel away the riser bricks; what say you or others?

bjbatlanta 11-10-2008 02:41 PM

The existing framing is likely within the tolerances allowed by code. You could add framing with metal studs to eliminate fire hazard and use durock rather than drywall for tile backer. It's a better substrate for tile anyway. You could also put a piece of 1/2" durock on to of the hearth to it even with the protruding brick, then a layer of 1/4" over the entire surface to get it all on an even plane. When you go to attempting to chisel 1/2" off those brick, they'll likely break apart. If so, just fill the gap with mortar and tile over. Just a couple of ideas.......

robdville 11-10-2008 03:07 PM

Great ideas, BJ -I hadn't even thought of metal studs, h- I'm not sure where to even buy any in my area -will definitely check out though!

You mentioned the durock on the hearth etc. -based on that, I assume that heat will not be much of an issue for it (the durock)?

That said, how about facing the firebox (the area which has mortar on it) w/ durock and then tile? I'm looking for zero-clearance overlay doors (to dress up the front), but having no luck so far. Do you see any heat issues in that area?

A buddy recommended starting a fire and seeing how hot everything gets. -I could do that I suppose, but it's not exactly scientific :-).


R Davis

bjbatlanta 11-10-2008 03:22 PM

Home Depot and Lowes both carry metal studs if you decide to do some framing, perhaps to add another "profile" to the fireplace. Dorock is cement based, so heat shouldn't be an issue to my knowledge. I've seen it used in this situation......and you could face the firebox with it. I would think the only issue you would have with heat would be with your choice of tile. I can't be of much help there, but mfgr's. specs should be available on their web site. Or you could post on the "flooring" forum on this site. There are tile pros there who can help I'm sure. Best of luck!

robdville 11-11-2008 07:59 AM


Okay, did a couple of tests last night. -non scientific of course.

-I started a fire; typically average of what we would use; I received no heat on the box or '<sp> flue </sp>' pipe in the wall. The facing of the box was actually cool. This fire burned most of the night and never saw heat issues.

-I did some reading about the metal studs and found a point of concern; what do you think of this:

"Metal framing has no structural strength and can only be used for partition walls. "

This wall will be very small; just as you said -to give the surround a differ profile. I'm not concerned w/a little additional costs; I'm more concerned w/the surround collapsing due to the weight of the tile.

Thanks again for all your input,

R Davis

bjbatlanta 11-11-2008 08:08 AM

It will be fine. The metal will hold the amount of weight that you're going to put on it. The above reference is to load bearing walls most likely (don't have time to read it right now). And you CAN use metal studs for structural purposes. It just has to be the proper gauge, usually 16 or 18 gauge.......

robdville 11-13-2008 07:13 PM


BJ, I've been to all the big box stores in my area; only HD has steel framing studs, but they only carry 25 gauge; yikes!

I sought the opinion of the kids in HD -incompetence reigns supreme, I choose not to trust anything they say :-).

What do you think?

Thanks for all your help,

R Davis

bjbatlanta 11-13-2008 07:41 PM

25 gauge should be fine. If you're concerned, look for a drywall supply in the yellow pages. They should stock 20 gauge which is definitely ok. Harder to cut with snips (but do-able) or use a saw with a metal blade. And you'll need self-tapping screws.

robdville 11-13-2008 07:44 PM

Cool, thanks! -last question, promise :-)

-what is a good price per? -HD here is 6.50 and the tract is only in 10' sections.

Thanks again,

R Davis

bjbatlanta 11-13-2008 08:03 PM

I show $6.50 for 12' studs, $5.20 for 10'. They usually carry 8' also, but were not listed on HD Contractor Services (I'd guess around $4.00). Track of any gauge comes in 10' lengths, I'm showing $4.87 for 25 gauge at HD. Metal USED to be cheaper than wood........

robdville 11-13-2008 09:43 PM

man, not so here. 6.50 for 8', 8+/- for tract and more for 10'/12' -oh well, is what it is I suppose.

R Davis

bjbatlanta 11-14-2008 07:14 AM

Ouch! I wonder if a price increase is headed this way?? At least you don't need a lot of material.

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