A Do-Over on the Fireplace

A couple years ago, I redid my fireplace and everything seemed okay. Fast forward to most recently when I realized the faux beam was actually coming off the wall.

I had to do something before it caused an accident so I started to research on an entire surround piece and over the weekend, finally put it up.

First I had to take down the old piece. I did save the reclaimed wood to be used in future projects.


Once it was up, I was going to leave it until the morning but the two toned thing was driving me crazy so I primed it. (Only, I didn’t use real primer, I used some ceiling paint since it was super-duper flat.)

The next morning I painted it a smoky navy color (Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore).


Paint was still drying when I took this picture but it is done and looks pretty cool. I wanted the unexpected pop of color to make it less traditional.

Fireplace Mantle!

I worked on the mantle this weekend and completed it!

Once again, the before pic –

Then I revamped the fireplace itself last year and this was what I saw for most of the year.


It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I added the beginning of the mantle.


Going into the weekend, I still wasn’t sure what I’d come up with and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to build it out. I went to a local store that specialize in being green. They had a few pieces of 1×6 reclaimed, vintage boards for sale. I grabbed a piece along with a 2×4 piece (for some, undetermined future project) and took them home.


I sanded down the rough spots and then built out a “frame” for the mantle.


Puck also decided to help out by testing the weight limit.



I could have left it at that and waited until next time to finish but I was so close! I went back and bought another 1×6 piece and put it together.


I added vinegar-steel wool solution to the wood to age it more. I also added some nails up top to some of the existing nail holes.


To age the nails, I used a copper sulfate solution (the stuff I used to give the zinc patina). I also used an oil stain instead of polyurethane to protect the wood.

The result?

IMG_2470 IMG_2478

Some of the lag screws were purely decoration but there were a few that supported the façade. I also built out a small “channel” if I ever decided to hang stuff. (It’s also a good place to stow a fireplace lighter as well.)



Phase 1 of Fireplace Mantel





I started on the fireplace mantel tonight.

The old mantel seemed too small for the fireplace so when I revamped the area, that quickly went to the donation pile.

The before pic.

The before pic.

The wood was leftover from the coffee table I cut down months ago.



Right now they’re just being held by a couple lag bolts but will have a couple more before the end of the weekend. I will probably do a weathered wood look at the end (after stacking a few pieces to create the shelf). The final idea is still not finalized but it will look a little rustic. My goal is to use as much reclaimed wood as possible to give the mantel a unique look.


Fireplace surround is done!

The top piece of the fireplace was attached yesterday and it now has a nice zinc surround.


What a difference from this.


I still need to add a piece that will stand off from the cement. But for the most part, this is complete. 🙂

CORRECTION – I’m not quite done. I still need to solder the seams together and add some caulk to the sides but the main part is done.

Fireplace update

I hadn’t given up on the project. It has been tedious bending the pieces of metal to shape. Then afterwards, getting them to adhere to the cement facade was another story.

I don’t think I used contact cement properly the first time so it didn’t stick. I just put a layer on both sides and then tried to put them together. Didn’t work.

I didn’t realize I had to let the cement dry a bit so both sides will stick immediately.

That seemed to work a bit.


I still had some loose areas so I used epoxy today and that seemed to work.


I still need to shape the top piece and then add the last piece of metal.

Slowly but surely…

Metal surround for fireplace is cut

I’m one step closer to getting the fireplace complete.

I just finished cutting out the metal pieces that I’ll use for the surround.

The machine in the pic is a sheet metal cutter and greatest thing ever! It took me less than an hour to get everything cut. Had I used tin snips I’d still be cutting, I’m sure.

There is still a 3′ x 5′ piece left over. I think if I find the perfect salvaged desk, I’ll top it with the remaining.

Working with zinc for this project will also determine if I want to continue using it (spare bath surround? Kitchen backsplash?) or not.


Fireplace Hearth

The last pic I had of the hearth, it was pretty plain. IMG_1257 I added a little more of the leftover concrete mix to give some trowel marks and to soften some of the harsher ridges.

My intent was to use something to stain it and then seal. At the same time, it was a small area so I didn’t really want to spend a lot of money buying some sort of stain. So I grabbed some pennies and added them to a solution of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to create a pretty blue color. I wasn’t sure if it would add color to the concrete or not. I also had some alcohol inks I made that didn’t work on my intended project. There was no rhyme or reason on how I added the color. I knew it would be hit or miss but I really wasn’t spending any money so it didn’t bother me.



This pic shows some of the blue from the copper solution but it didn’t last. I added some of the black alcohol ink (which turned out to be a murky, green color) and also some dark blue. Then I added some sealer that had the pigment added, using some of the more concentrated stuff in random areas.



I followed up with another coat of seal. As you can see, the blues and greens did stain the concrete and give it some character. There is still a shadow of the grout lines but I think it still works. 🙂

Taking a break this week but next week should be the beginning of the metal phase (hopefully the last phase of the project).

Fireplace – some color and sealer


So after running this morning I went to Treehouse in Austin. They helped me find an Eco-friendly sealer that I could tint.

This stuff is a soy and hemp oil and the color came from earth ground pigments (American clay to be exact – smoky flint I believe).

I mixed the stuff up in an old pasta jar (they’re really handy for around the house) and then took a rag and applied. Some areas took up more color than others and the cure time is slow – a few days so the color might continue to change.

I hung the picture back up tonight so it wouldn’t look so barren.

That jar on the floor? That is a copper solution made with white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and pennies (1960s pennies work best). I’m hoping the hearth can be dyed with the blue and then I can add the dark sealer over.

If it doesn’t work (I’ve got some test pieces of cement) I’ll use an actual concrete stain and then seal.

One all that is done I’ll work on the metal.

Concrete is fixed!

This morning I worked on the fireplace once again. I probably spent the about a half hour mixing the stuff in my garage though but I made enough.

I had a bit of a time constraint – I was going to watch WWZ at 2 so I allowed myself until about 1ish to finish.

I worked fairly quickly. The Deco-Poz was a little runny but I was tired of mixing the stuff. It troweled on really nicely though. Much better than the Quikrete stuff. Ardex is still tops but the price isn’t. I probably would have needed a and a half more bags today if I had bought that stuff.

So I was pretty much done a little after 12 and still had extra cement so I poured out the hearth as well.



Then I had to do a quick rinse of the tools and clean up for the movie. Luckily I’m a couple miles away so I was there in plenty of time. World War Z was pretty cool too.

After the movie, I went home and really thought I’d come back to 2 concrete covered cats. I didn’t (WHEW!) but I did come home to some paw prints on my hearth.


I spent a couple hours sanding the concrete down and then troweling another layer on the hearth. The prints aren’t completely covered but they’re more faint.



Here is the fireplace now.



So the next step is to either stain & seal or use a tinted sealer. I want the vertical space to be a little more subtle than the hearth. I could go a little darker and it won’t be pitch black like before.

Until next time. 🙂



Fireplace Project – Phase II – Concrete winning the battle but not the war

Here is an update to the fireplace project.

Before I get to the concrete part, I did paint the surround with a high temperature spray paint that I bought at an auto store. It is a very nice, flat black. IMG_1227

On Wednesday, I picked up my 10lb bag of Ardex and it turned out to be the grey – not white. I decided to make a batch to play with it that evening and made too much since the stuff starts to harden and is not workable after about 30 minutes. IMG_1229

Rather than continue into the night, I decided to wait until the next day to work on it some more. Bad mistake – whether it is the fact that I used water from a garden hose instead of my sink or any other number of reasons, I got a different color.

IMG_1243IMG_1244 Then I ran out of it – on the Fourth of July so I headed to the quickest big box store knowing they didn’t have the exact stuff and found some Quikrete brand cement topping that also has a polymer in it. Well, it wasn’t. This stuff was supposed to be trowelable but nope, half of it would fall and was no longer usable. It was horrible and had a rougher finish. And that dark patch of cement never dried lighter so now I have this crazy piece.


So I debated last night whether to order another bag of Ardex and wait until next week to continue. Or should I just stain it even though the upper left corner area has a very think layer and you can still see the stupid texture. I went to a different home improvement store – they were closed yesterday but this place has a lot of green living supplies. They introduced me to this stuff –  Deco Poz – it is another microtopper product but this one uses less Portland Cement and has some recyclable content. It also has a longer work time of about 2 hours. The 5 gal bucket was $30 something with the polymer about $90 – yeah it is spendy but Ardex was $40 for 10lbs.

The guy there was really helpful and told me that this stuff does work on walls. Since I had different products on the fireplace, it was best to keep it consistent even if I was going to stain – in case the stain ended up darkening the darker patch. My plan is to use a slightly thinner layer just to keep the color the same and the surface would be the same material. Plus, that crappy stuff that I used was mostly on the bottom half of the fireplace and some of the cement backer board tape is sticking through so yeah, I do need to add another layer. Then after, I could either stain it (which won’t pick up on the trowel marks that I like) or I could add stain to the seal so it is like a color wash. I’ll think about it when I get closer to that step.

The Quikcrete stuff was awful on the tile floor too. Even though it is a slate, it was bad. I’ll use the DecoPoz on the floor once the vertical space is done and the hearth is washed and scraped of the nasties.

Can’t think about the metal yet. Gotta get this looking nice before I can advance.

Le sigh.