Our home’s wood burning fire place is one of Nick and my favorite things about it. When we first bought the house the fireplace had soot stained dark red bricks that sucked out all of the light from the tiny living room.
I immediately primed and painted the fireplace brick, tile hearth and mantle with a glossy white paint.
The following year I stripped the mantel and stained it to match our hardwood floors to bring some natural warmth to the room and counter all the white on that wall.
Last year, after having the fireplace cleaned and inspected, we decided to have the chimney relined and the brick re-pointed since the mortar was damaged and missing in many areas.
One ongoing challenge has been our painted tile hearth. Inevitably, a burning log would fall from the stack and land on the painted hearth, leaving a burned mark. In 2013, I wrote about how I re-primed and painted the hearth at the end of each season to deal with that issue.
Last year though, the first burn mark appeared in late-fall, so the stain was there the whole rest of the winter. In Spring, I was so tired of looking at it and repainting that area each year that I made the decision to paint it a darker color and hopefully hide future burn marks. I picked up a test pot of black gloss paint, and Nick covered it with a couple of coats.
The result was terrible! Just like the dark red tiles before, the darker paint color sucked the light and energy out of the small room. It was the motivation that we needed though to start our next project…retiling the hearth!
After we made the decision to move forward with the project (we are hoping to tackle this one entirely on our own), I threatened Nick for a few weeks that I was going to take an exploratory chip out of the hearth to see what was below (hearths can be constructed from many different materials), but Nick beat me to it.
Hysterically, after Nick removed a tile, I walked past it for several days and didn’t even notice! Nick kept at it (with only some time lost after we broke our hammer and had to upgrade to a larger hammer and chisel), and he spent quite a few hours over the last two weeks removing the top layer of brick and mortar as well as a sub layer of cement.
With only a few missed swings and hammers to the hand, Nick finally got the entire underlayment removed. The last step of prep was to vacuum the area clear and sand down the edges of the wood since the hardwood floors and hearth are flush and there is no trim piece.
With the underlayment removal done, our next step is to select tile. We’ve settled on a pattern and color family and now just need to narrow down our three choices, which we hope to get done this week. Hopefully I’ll have an update on our progress soon!
P.S. I couldn’t end this post without giving Nick some major kudos. My head is always spinning with inspiration and project ideas, and I’m incredibly lucky to have Nick’s muscle and support (I did none of the work in this post!); he is truly the workhorse that gets things done behind the scenes!