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.

Phase I of Fireplace Project Complete

So the first phase of the fireplace project is officially complete. Last week, I ran out of cement backer board and ended up buying a second sheet this week. I also removed the floor tiles on the sides and left it bare (eventually, before flooring, I’ll make sure it is level enough.

I left the slate in the hearth area as you can see below.

Fireplace Phase I


What I’m planning on doing is now instead of using Joint Compound to give that part of the wall a smooth finish, I’m going to be using a cement product. I got the idea from this site (there were some more cement type ideas too) and had contemplated doing the same thing but thought the JC would do the same job.

I ended up changing my mind because of the heat factor from the fireplace. It won’t get uber hot to melt the joint compound, at least I don’t think it would but still, since I opted for cement backer board, I thought using this Ardex stuff was the way to go. So yeah, I just placed an order for some Ardex SD-M on Friday. I’m getting the white cement and figured I could add a little bit of my Benjamin Moore Flora paint to it.

Here is another link that inspired me to use Ardex. This is from YouTube.

If you’re wondering about the slate that forms the hearth, my plan is to use that cement micro topping over it so it creates one uniform piece. If it works, it will be awesome because then I won’t have to worry about buying and laying tile. 🙂

The stuff should come in before next weekend so I’ll update more then.

The final piece will be the zinc. If all goes well, I should have a new fireplace before the end of July.


FIreplace Project Has Begun!

The before pic.

The before pic.

Big wood screws, I guess that support piece wasn't going anywhere.

Big wood screws, I guess that support piece wasn’t going anywhere.


Stupid big bolts.

Stupid big bolts.


Oops, I busted some of the cement board. :(

Oops, I busted some of the cement board. 😦


IMG_1194So I started the fireplace refresh this afternoon. Before starting though, I took a pic to show the before.

The first thing I did was remove the mantle. The wood screws in my hand were HUGE but there were also some bolts attached to the piece of wood that held the mantle. I was happy that I didn’t need to cut through them in order to remove.

Next, I took my wood chisel (I need an actual pry bar) and carefully pried the tile off. (It’s black slate that I’ll be taking to the Habitat Re-Store sometime in the next week or two) I managed to only break 3 tiles but chipped a few. :-/

Oh, as I pried off the tiles, I kept spraying with bug spray. There were some creepy crawlies so I made sure I took care of them.

I don’t know if you could see, I tore off some of the cement backer board or its equivalent. So it was off to Lowes I for a sheet.

I had to stop midway through attaching the backerboard. I was getting tired and hungry. I’ll use the rest of the board to attach so that I can minimize the joint compound I’ll be using to smooth out the wall.

I think I’m Going with this Fireplace Idea

I think I’ve finalized my fireplace idea!

I’ve been coming up with ideas that would update the fireplace and posted a lot of ideas. I think I’ve come up with the best idea that isn’t too costly either.

When I started really doing research on updating “the memorial”, I saw ideas similar to this. For me to actually reface it with new doors, louvers, etc, it probably would have been spendy (several hundred upwards to the thousand dollar range). That wasn’t including tile or anything.

While looking at ideas for a fireplace mantel, as I mentioned earlier, I realized the idea of using a barn beam or a reclaimed beam, wasn’t going to fit the style I was going for (the concrete-ish textured wall). So last night I started to look for metal mantels.

Somehow I started to look at making my own with either copper or zinc. Copper wouldn’t work because of the colors but it is a beautiful metal. Plus, it looks like it wouldn’t require a lot of special tools to work with as you can see from this website.

Zinc is pretty cool and can be patinated. (learned that word today) It also looks as though it can be sanded out if the look isn’t what you’re expecting and start over.  Below is a 2 part video on some different techniques.

It looks so damn cool and because it is light, I wouldn’t need a whole lot of special fasteners.

After posting my last entry updating my planning progress, I came up with the idea of creating a frame using zinc-wrapped plywood attached onto the fireplace (Top Pic). I was planning on using high-heat flat black on the existing metal frame but now I could add some oomph by having a patina zinc frame.

So what about the mantel? I am going to go without. As one of my coworkers said, having a mantel with this metal work would detract from the actual piece. Plus, with my pipe shelving, I’d have plenty of room for knick-nacks.

Just to play it up even more, the 2nd pic shows an artsy addition to the frame. It would be a thin (maybe 3/8”) zinc wrapped plywood that would float over the frame. I’ll end up using spacers and maybe a different cupric sulfate (CuSO4 for you chemistry geeks) application.

This would mean the only part that would be tiled would be the hearth and now with the metal framing, I’d be going with a simpler design for the floor. Nothing that would detract from the beauty of the metal.

So yeah, this would still require some work and patience but I feel like I’m getting something I would really LOVE instead of settling for something better than what I currently have.

If I can get less than perfect Zinc sheets (they have scuff marks or dings which would add character to the pieces), I’d save money on the whole design.