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condoowner 10-05-2012 11:00 PM

gas fire place redoing
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not sure if this thread should be in the decoration section of the forum or here so I'm sorry if it has to be moved..

so I have decided to upgrade my natural gas fireplace by redoing the box containing the fireplace insert. the current box is a drywall construction and like most of this condominium unit it was build in a hurry and is not square at all.. plus it looked kinda bad since it was painted very poorly.

so I have started by removing the ugly wood molding that was installed around the insert. this molding was exactly the same as what's installed around the door frames. by removing these wood moldings I have noticed that the paint they used was strange and with only a small putty knife I was able to peel most of the paint in large 3 to 4 in chunks.. the paint looked a bit rubbery and very thick. underneath it is all covered with drywall mud.

I will be posting some pictures tomorrow since my camera is out of order for tonight.

I would like to install a modern clean looking material instead of simply repainting over the drywall.. I am thinking about rocks or something like that.

anybody can point me to some ideas and most importantly what should I do next?? can I treat this like a kitchen backsplash??

nealtw 10-05-2012 11:55 PM

Don't know about the paint, but we do these boxes all the time usually cover with man made stone. Looks good. Some rock guys will install over drywall but most times we cover the box with plywood or 7/16 osb for solid backing for the stone. But no wood should be installed for 4 inches above the firebox so we just put backerboard in that center section.
There is lots on the market. 2&Itemid=53#joomimg

CallMeVilla 10-06-2012 12:40 AM

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I prefer using backer board for the entire area to be tiled or covered with stone. Makes for excellent adhesion and fire resistance.

I suggest you look for design ideas in current home & decorator magazines. Depending on the decor of your place, a flat surface is minimal but there are a lot of decorative trim molds which upgrade the look easily. If you have good tile/stone skills, this might be the way to go.

Here are two pics to start you off . . . Notice one is simple but the other is interesting. IF you want to put a TV over the fireplace, this is the time to build a niche and run power, HDMI wiring, and anything else you might need.

condoowner 10-06-2012 07:50 AM

hey guys! many many thanks for replying! so to start off, Im wondering if I should strip the current box down and rebuild a new one? the current drywall box lacks square-ness and because of that the left side is angled and as a result the fireplace insert seems to be inserted deeper on the left side than the right side..

those idiots even cut the laminated floor to match the crooked box!!!!!

should I expect a standard 2x4 frame underneath this drywall box? if so wouldn't it be easier cleaner and faster to start fresh with either backerboard or osb than trying to repair and compensate for the poor craftsmanship of the builder?

nealtw 10-06-2012 08:24 AM

If it is that bad I would remove the drywall and have a look at what you have. Some times it doesn't take much to straighten out a structure. Added solid blocking to hang a tv and cable and outlet at the same time. While your in there, there should be drywall on the wall behind the fireplace.
With osb you would need wire mesh and scatch coat for stone. Maybe the backer would safe a step?

condoowner 10-06-2012 08:34 AM

it's just that because the fireplace is flush mounted on the right side and due to the crooked structure is deeper on the left side. if I install backerboard and rocks it will probably be an additional 1,5 to 2 inches thick which will make the fireplace even deeper in the structure..

any good?

so let's say I keep the drywall, I fix the structure and now it looks great (shape wise) I only install the backerboard on top of the drywall??? screwed in the studs?

CallMeVilla 10-06-2012 08:51 AM

In my experience, you may find metal studs, not wood. This complicates the restructuring a bit (different screws) because there are no horizontal blocks to support weignt.

Without better pics, it is hard to advise you. Stripping the drywall would allow you to fur the problems, regain square, and add blocks for support of a TV or whatever. As I tell people, "It's only drywall." (And the condo association is cool with this kind of construction?)

The floor bothers me because it is what it is -- you don't want to mess it up more. However, if you get the fireplace true, you can also add a small hearth matching the tile/stone on top of the flooring to hide the bad cut. Would that work for you?

Just thinking on the fly. :)

condoowner 10-06-2012 09:50 AM

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And the condo association is cool with this kind of construction?
Yes, as per our condo agreements, the fireplace is part of my property. What I must not touch is the flue vent and the gas line. Anyways, I would not touch these since its mostly a safety hazard.

Talking about these lines, would normally the fireplace be just inserted in the box or would it be fastened somehow to the structure? I am pretty sure I happened to slightly move the insert (maybe a quarter inch) when I pushed on it to see if it was anchored...

In the end, if its just a box with studs (metal or wood) and some paneling, and there are no connections to the fireplace insert, I feel pretty confident to be able to rebuild/straighten this up.

I will drill a 2inch hole on the side and insert a flashlight to see whats inside and how its built. Then Ill have an idea of the construction.

For the floor, yes its a shame but the quarter round that was installed on the baseboard on each sides of the insert covered the mess and you couldn't tell. I am not sure I want to play with the flooring because I have zero experience in that and it would probably result in having the whole floor repaired or worst, replaced ($$$$$)...

I am thinking the rocks and panels (whatever they will be) will be thick enough to cover the floor mess but like I said, the fireplace insert will appear to be deeper in the "box" because of the thicker walls.. Any cosmetic issues with this? I will look on the web for decoration ideas as well...

Attached is a picture showing what I have as much as I can tell for now.. The crooked portion is shown on the left side and is exaggerated for clarity.

condoowner 10-06-2012 10:20 AM

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So I poked a hole on the side and got the flashlight in...

Its a all wood construction with standard 2x4 lumber studs and 1/2in drywall.. nothing fancy.

So in your experience, would it be easier to:

-strip it down and rebuild with backer board

-fix the current box and install backer board on top of drywall


CallMeVilla 10-06-2012 11:19 AM

Good on you for the 2x4 construction. You should strip the drywall, reframe as needed to achieve square, then re-sheet with backer board to accept the tile/stone. You will have to re-install quarter round for the floor as needed.

I see not big issues at this point. Just remember to use proper backer board screws and set them flush. Do you know how to cut backer??? Some guys use knives. I prefer a cheap skillsaw with a cheap cement cutting blade . . . also use an angle grinder with a diamond blade. Use fiber tape on edges, corners. Tile/stone as usual.

You might be on your way!

PS What about the TV build-in?

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