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September 2021
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Fireplace Freshen Before and After

Since it is getting toward the end of the year and I have no money to buy you all presents, I decided that I would give you ideas.

The Fireplace Freshen Project began with this.Fireplacebegin

Exposed painted brick with a mantle that really had no value other than dust collection as the fireplace had been converted to gas some years ago.

We removed the mantle, fireplace door, brick door surround, reframed the fireplace with steel studs, softened the vertical and horizontal lines with ’round’ corner bead, added two valances for mounting indirect lighting, and recycled the vertical blinds.

Here is the finished project in its holiday trim.

Details on this project are here:

Fireplace Freshen 1 Demo, framing,drywall,taping.

Fireplace Freshen 2 Dust Control Mud, Primer.

Fireplace Freshen 3 Photoshopped look, Radius Corner Bead notes.

Fireplace Freshen 4 Finish Details at windows and Valances.

Fireplace Freshen 5 Valence Details for Vertical Blinds and Lighting.

Fireplace Freshen 6 Final Photos and notes on fireplace doors.

Bon Appetit!

Fireplace Freshen 6

The Fireplace door has arrived. Took longer than anticipated.(something about mining the ore, making the steel…)

It does look nice. It came out better than I thought.

Here is another view with the valance lights. I will have to get an evening shot.

Construction Notes:
Here in the Southwest, fireplaces are relatively common. That is where the commonality ends. Everybody builds them differently,materials, sizes, locations. So when you are going to remodel yours, be advised that you will probably be buying a custom door. Make sure that your opening is finished.

There are a hundred manufacturers of doors with glossy brochures, showing you finishes, materials and styles to make your head explode.

Before getting a quote,(understand that these are items that they whisper the price in your ears, and after they revive you with smelling salts, add tax) Make sure that your opening is finished.

Take your time and select wisely. These are not the sort of items that you can do over.

Fireplace Freshen 5

While the Guest Bath Project is moving along, we have also done some more work on the fireplace.
Behind the valance panels of the fireplace we installed lighting. But it was a little unfinished.

The Bracket Problem
The decision was made to re-install the vertical blinds. The original brackets got lost in the shuffle. Not a big loss as they were a little cheesy. However the company that made the blinds was sold to another company, which was sold to another company, and as a result of this, finding the original style brackets was doomed.
The style of blind is available, but the details and materials have changed, and not for the better. The new style of bracket is even cheesier than the old ones. Stamped steel with low budget spring clips for holding the fixture in place.

Let me digress for a moment. Back in the 70-80’s big draperies were all the rage. Large things made out of materials you needed two people to install. Brocades, velvets, etc. The problem with these was not the design, materials or locations. It was in the damn walls. Typical window construction has a king stud next to the trimmer stud which supports the window header. Nobody who swings a hammer for a living thinks past the minimum amount of framing necessary to get paid. Getting openings square is a challenge in a lot of cases, especially in ‘developments’.

When these drapery sets are used, the rods extend beyond the windows, so that the drapes can be opened completely exposing the entire window. So now the problem is in anchoring the ends of the rods, which take a lot of stress in holding up the draperies when they are opened. There is hardly an even space on either side of the window that you can depend having a stud to anchor the ends.

Adding blocking between the studs on either side of the header takes only moments and the materials are already laying around the jobsite. Repairing walls that have had thousand dollar drapes collapse makes folks crazy. Trust me.

Solid Backing
I built backing out of 5/8 and 3/4” plywood. I used the 5/8” plywood for the valance and screwed it into the 3/4” plywood that has the light and the track mounted to it. After putting it in place and leveling it, I put a 3/4” cleat on the back wall to hold the back end of the backing in place. You will have to pull down the fireplace to get these to move.

A little caulk and a couple of coats of white paint.

It should be real dramatic at night.

Fireplace Freshen 4

The Fireplace Freshen Project is headed toward the finish line.
Here are a couple of detail photos.
This is a closeup of the work we have been doing on the window openings.
Here is round bead in play on the front of the header and around the window

Here is a midrange shot with a different window treatment. This is a Redi Shade. Billed as a temporary window treatment, it provides light and privacy. This is up to think about a horizontal treatment for these windows.
Another view of round bead.
I like Redi Shades. Most of my windows at casa lemurzone are covered with them. Someday I will replace them something else, maybe.

Fireplace Freshen 3

Spent a bit of time last week detailing the fireplace including cutting in the edges where the new work meets the existing and painting the inside of the firebox with hi-temp paint. My son installed and finished the tile in the front of the fireplace.

One of the other details that will be addressed is softening the window openings with the radius corner bead used on the front. As I mentioned the other day, radius bead requires a different backing strategy than regular cornerbead. Here I will install drywall pieces on the window sides and attach our bead with one side on the new drywall and the other side on the existing wall. I will also skim coat the areas on the back wall. I will give the dust control mud a real test.
Typical square corner

In spending some time with the fireplace, it has been decided that we will reinstall the vertical blinds that were here. This is a mockup of what it will look like. These vertical blinds have the slightest amount of curve softening their lines. The fireplace door is not to scale. and the vertical line of the glass door are too fat, but you get the idea. The top bracket of the blinds will be hidden, and we are installing lights on the back side of the valances which will give this wall some real drama in the night.

The electrician will be by in a week or so to install ceiling lights, and the lights in the valances.

Fireplace Freshen 2

Here is the face ready for primer and paint. The fireplace door guy was by and measured for the fireplace door. About 4 weeks out.

Dust Control Drywall Mud Progress Report
This is for Jenni at 1311Vernon and Jennfier at Tiny Old House
Why didn’t they invent this stuff 30 years ago? At least I get to use it before I die.
Good Golly Miss Molly. This is the greatest stuff for remodeling since Loctite Power Grab.
The photo below shows the dust from sanding the side wall from the ceiling to about 2 feet from the ground. I took this photo about 10 seconds after I got through sanding.
Regular mud would have been spread to hell and gone, and you would have seen noting but white dots obstructing the photo. It sands like a dream, clumps and falls to the ground as advertised.
Look at the blue tape line where the trim meets the wall.

Here is a closeup of the same area. I am using sanding sponges for sanding. I am using them dry. The stuff sticks together and drops to the ground. As an added bonus, look at the bottom of the bullnose bead. See the overage? When I use the knife as a chipper to knock most of this off, it comes off smoothly. Regular mud and speed set has a tendency to fracture, and pull out chunks.

The only thing that you need to watch for is that it does fill up the sponge quickly and does need to be ‘tapped’ clean. A small price for the lack of dust and white boogers that regular mud sanding causes.
This is gonna make Smoothwall skim coating a pleasure…relatively speaking of course.
Why didn’t they invent this stuff 30 years ago? At least I get to use it before I die.

First Paint Coat

Fireplace Freshen 1

Fireplace Facelift
This is the before shot. There are few things uglier than painted brick. This is an unusual fireplace as it is not centered in the room by about 5”, and has some pretty awkward windows. The idea of covering or removing the windows was rejected as the light is an important element of this room. This fireplace originally was a wood burner, with an arched opening. The client remodeled it years ago by switching it to natural gas, adding the brick surround, and installing the fireplace door. At the time, this was much more cost effective as the cost of a glass fireplace door custom built with an arched top was at the far side of obscenely expensive. Even more so today, but that is a moot point.

First things first. Removing the hearth and brick around the fireplace. The vertical blinds were bagged as the decision for window treatments had not been made. The floor was covered as the client has more of the floor tile and it was going to be filled in after we got the facelift done.

Construction Note
If you are going to tile and may remodeling in the future, buy extra tile. Patterns, colors, and styles change constantly. Just ask any of the house bloggers who have been looking for plastic tiles or subway tiles for doing restoration.

The floor in front and to the sides is also covered with 5/8” chipboard, which to me is one of the few uses for the stuff. It helps to corral all the busted brick. With the brick removed you can see the original arch of the fireplace. What is not shown is the steel angle used as a header for the brick facing. We are going to reuse if when we square off the opening to support the brick face before we begin the facelift.

Since this is a covering and the fireplace is brick, we are using 1 1/2” steel studs. (Yes they make 2×2 steel studs, but you need to find them at a drywall supply store as the big box home improvement stores only stock 2×3” and 2×4” stel studs and track. We are also leaving a 1” gap between the brick and the face. This eliminates trying to use wood and concrete nails or Blue Screws to try to make the face flat. It also covers the 3/4”dip in the brickwork.

We have extra studs in the wall as the client has some large artwork which will end up on the wall.

Construction Details
The vertical and freestanding valances are finished with Bullnose corner bead to soften the corners. The corners next to the walls and ceiling are finished with ‘L’ bead, as the walls have been recently re-textured and painted. The ceiling had the popcorn removed and a light skimcoat applied.

Valance Detail
The valance area is open for the lights that will be mounted on the backside and area for the fabric panels that will be built to cover the windows.

The yellow mud you see is not bad photography, it is a recently new product from USG called Dust Control taping compound. It comes premixed the color of eggnog, and it is a thicker consistency than other premixed mud. Anything that controls dust during construction and remodeling is good by me. We shall see how it works.

The opening for the fireplace door is wrapped with a concrete board and finished with a quick set mud.
Monday the fireplace door guy will be by to measure for the door.