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Discussion Starter #1
So we are planning on re-facing our fireplace with cultured stone veneer, and also possibly putting in a wood burning insert depending on money, and also hang a flat screen TV above the mantle. But we have several questions that we're hoping someone can help clarify for us.

The old fireplace surround I ripped out was painted wood, and have 2x4s underneath to hold it all together (shown in pics). I still have to rip out the hearth.





1. Is it ok to use wood to frame out a layout against the existing brick? If it is I was planning on making a wood frame with a mount for the TV, and then screw steel mesh over the wood frame to put the mortar on, and then the cultured stone veneer. I've read many people saying "NO" to this, as the wood has a chance to heat up and cause a fire. BUT the existing fireplace already had a wood frame with wood veneer above it? And also I've read several DIY articles and videos using a wood frame. Keep in mind I am keeping the brick chimney and just putting stone veneer on top, so that can act as a heat barrier. Also, is it ok to use wood to frame out the hearth? I plan on putting a slab of bluestone above it.


2. Can we remove the extra layer of brick surrounding the fireplace opening? It looks like they just put an extra layer onto the chimney, but I just want to be sure. I put a red arrow pointing to what I'm referring to:




3. What is the two layers of concrete blocks for? Is there a reason why they are there or can I take it off?





Thanks for any help you can provide!
 

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Stuck in the 70's
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I'm no expert, but I did do a bit of research when we had a wood burning insert installed in our fireplace.

First, what kind of fireplace do you have? Wood burning, gas, propane, electric? It might be helpful to add a pic with the doors open.

Second, if you are seriously considering an insert, I would suggest going to a couple of websites (we went with Lopi) and see what hearth requirements they have as far as construction and size.
 

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Tileguy
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The very first thing you must do is to make up your mind what you want to do. There can be a huge difference between a "REAL" fireplace and an insert when it comes to modifying things.

The cement blocks are (at this time) a major structural component of your fireplace, again you need to first decide which way you are going.:yes:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ok, forget the old questions. New question:

Can I add a layer of bricks to the chimney to be on the same level as the layer around the firebox? Then put veneer stone (probably cultured stone) over the brick? For the hearth I was planning on bricks with bluestone on top, and then veneer stone on the sides.

The thing I'm worried about is the weight of all of this. Is this an issue?

Thanks for any help.
 

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Concrete & Masonry
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Ok, forget the old questions. New question:

Can I add a layer of bricks to the chimney to be on the same level as the layer around the firebox? Then put veneer stone (probably cultured stone) over the brick? For the hearth I was planning on bricks with bluestone on top, and then veneer stone on the sides.

The thing I'm worried about is the weight of all of this. Is this an issue?

Thanks for any help.
That's probably the best plan yet. You could also just use a full veneer stone or brick instead of the two layers. Experience tells me that there very well COULD be enough foundation left below (currently hidden by hearth) for all of it to bear on with out any worry. You'll need to take off the hearth first though.
 

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Tileguy
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Yow...My guess is that is one heck of a fireplace and there is plenty of foundation to support anything you have suggested so far.:yes: Check it out to be sure as j suggests.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks guys, tomorrow I will tear up the hearth and see what is underneath there.

So you're saying if the chimney is built up from the house foundation all the way up to the hearth, I'm good to go as far as adding significant weight to the chimney? BUT if underneath the hearth is just a wood frame, or just cinder blocks on top of the hardwood floor with tile on it, then it's a no-go as far as adding that much weight?

Is there another option to have it extend into the living room a little more?

This is the new look we are going for:

 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I opened up the right side (while looking at it) of the hearth and here is what I found:







Didn't have enough time yesterday to rip it up completely because I was finishing some drywall in the kitchen. The tile on the fireplace is a pain in the A** to chip away at. Any suggestions for that?

I'm guessing the gravel is laying on top of the rest of the chimney foundation? What do you think? If that is the case, it means I can build up another layer of brick and then do the veneer stone on top without fear of too much weight, correct?
 

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Tileguy
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I have always wondered why people that take pictures of their projects think the pictures must be close-ups as if we were splitting atoms or something. Back up about ten feet and take another picture of the whole area like the earlier photo that shows the windows. I have no idea what I am looking at in those last pictures.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
haha ok, I will get some farther away shots when I rip it open. The opening I made was very small and I just stuck my phone in there for the pic
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So here it is:



Where the red arrows are pointing, those are supported by the hearth, which is supported by the lower 2x4's on the wall, and also a few bricks underneath.

Here's some more pictures:











Here's underneath the fireplace/chimney in the basement:

 

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Discussion Starter #15
I want to add another layer onto the brick to have it stick into the living room a little more, then add veneer stone on top of that to make it look good. I also want to put a bluestone mantel a foot above the fireplace opening. Then for the hearth, I wanted to stack brick or cinderblocks, put a bluestone slab on top, then veneer stone around it.

I just want to confirm that the existing chimney can support all the additional weight. Also, what do I do with the gravel/rocks? What is the best way to build the hearth over that?

Thanks for all the advice so far! Also thank you for the advice in my thread about drywall, very helpful!
 

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Tileguy
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I personally don't see a problem adding the additional weight and the fascia to the existing structure. It appears substantial.

I'm not sure where/how the gravel's position relates to the main structure below in the basement.

Even at that. I am also confident the new hearth can be built basically as the old hearth was but I don't see the need for additional cinder block at that location.

Maybe others are seeing something I'm missing.:)
 

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Concrete & Masonry
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I have to admit, I've never seen anything constructed even remotely close to what you have going on. I have no idea why there is wood under the hearth at all, or why you would even want to use wood, on a masonry FP.

I'd start by tearing out the wood, verifying that the hearth extension is actually poured (it should be under the gravel & over the angled plywood form you see from the basement), and move on from there. When you have a solid masonry structure to build on & against, it just seems silly to layer in something as tempurmental & "temporary" as wood, especially on a wood burning fireplace...........
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yeah the wood's got me concerned too, all of it will be coming out.

So adding another layer of brick to the existing brick chimney with mortar/brick, then mortaring a layer of veneer stone to the new brick is ok right? Just want to make sure I am understanding you.

Is there a way to put something solid where the gravel is, so that I build a frame with either the steel studs or some brick to make the hearth? Is that normal where the plywood is in the basement, what's it there for?
 

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Concrete & Masonry
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Yeah the wood's got me concerned too, all of it will be coming out.

So adding another layer of brick to the existing brick chimney with mortar/brick, then mortaring a layer of veneer stone to the new brick is ok right? Just want to make sure I am understanding you.

As long as there is enough foundation/bearing present at the first floor level, it won't be a problem at all. I would suggest using wall ties into the existing block work (Tapcons generally work well here for fastening them in) to tie the new block layer in. Once the additional block is in, you can go directly over it with thin veneer stone. Just remember if you buil it out past the existing wall, you will need corners for the returns into that wall.

Is there a way to put something solid where the gravel is, so that I build a frame with either the steel studs or some brick to make the hearth? Is that normal where the plywood is in the basement, what's it there for?
From the basement picture, it sure appears that the hearth extension is already formed for concrete. It may very well have a concrete sub-hearth in place already under the gravel. We'll never know though until you do some digging in the gravel.

It's perfectly normal for the plywood to be there, other than with current code, it needs to be stripped out after the pour.

I'd also suggest merely using concrete block or brick to form the hearth on top of the concrete sub-hearth rather than messing with steel studs.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks!

I will tear out the existing hearth and the extra layer of brick surrounding the firebox and do some digging in the gravel to see what is under there once I get some free time
 
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