Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mantle makeover (and fireplace demolition!)

Warning allergy sufferers: this post contains a lot of dust. May also contain content that is unsuitable for clean freaks as you may start to imagine that the said dust will sneak past the rolled up towels at the three doorways in this room and into the rest of our house (you would be right, but nothing a week of dusting won't sort out!).

We started with a fireplace and mantle like this:

Bricks staggering out, pressed in a geometric pattern and then covered with a mint green paint...nice. The old gas heater is an ugly brown but very efficient so we are keeping it for now to save dollars. We are hoping it will be improved with a new mantle and surrounded by new tiles and carpet (good bye terracotta tiles and grey speckled school carpet!).

Imagine me taking to the wooden mantle (the white bit) with a hammer then the Mister attacking the bricks with an angle grinder and a demolition hammer drill. We were left with this:

Yes, there is red brick dust ALL the way up the very high walls!

The dust was so thick that we had to wait a few hours to take these photos. Those holes have now been filled with mortar. Five layers were applied over a week to ensure it was dry underneath and stuck to the wall. As I type, render is being applied to create a smooth layer over the bricks and hide the pattern. This photo was taken in progress at 11.35pm this evening!

Don't worry, I'm not always sitting back on the interweb while the man does all the work. I made myself useful in the last week by preparing the mantle, picked up on eBay for just under $120. It is a reproduction mantle that was never used as the sellers had purchased the wrong size for their fireplace. Sad for them, happy for us.

With the help of an orbital sander, a detail sander and a few sheets of sandpaper, I gave it a good sand, followed by a dust and a rub down with water and sugar soap. I did this outside so the mantle stayed clean, which is funny really because I usually sand outside so the house stays clean!

After one coat of paint (the old Dulux Whisper White gloss came out again), the coverage was quite uneven, as you can see here when I pulled it inside for the night. I'm thinking I may have sanded it too well, if such a thing is possible.

The coverage was much better after the second coat, although I noticed too late that there were paint drips under the scrolls.

There were a few gritty bits in the paint finish too so I then sanded it lightly and did a third coat. I don't have a photo of that yet so you'll just have to hang out to see it installed when the fireplace is complete. Sorry to be a tease - if I had the finished photos, I'd show you! We just need a few more weekends to get it looking like the beautiful mantle we know it can be. That means a few more weekends in my painting clothes, my favourite being the paint-splotched yellow and blue Canterbury rugby shirt embroidered with the eagle of my hometown football and netball club. Renovating is a sexy business!


  1. Wow! You guys have been busy! Best of luck with the finishing touches (and the clean-up!). x

  2. Wow, this is a huge project. I can't wait to see it all finished!

  3. This is awesome, Ellise. The fireplace in our house is an 1960s marble thing and my way of 'renovating' is to look at it with new eyes every day until I like it! Not quite there yet...

  4. Please put an updated pic up!




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