A tutorial on how we updated our builder grade fireplace with reclaimed thin bricks, some paint, and a new mantel.
When we built our home, we decide to save a few of the upgrades we really wanted to do for after we moved in so we could save money and stick to our budget. The fireplace was one of those projects. We had our builder do a basic fireplace and mantle (shown below,) as we knew we were going to upgrade it at some point. The fireplace insert we have is the Heat & Glo SL-750TR-IPI-E.
Shortly after moving in, my husband installed the ship-lap to the top portion of the fireplace, as we always knew we wanted that (when we move in it was just drywall like the bottom.) After the shiplap was complete, we couldn’t come to a decision on the rest. We lived with it like the above photo for a couple of years. We ultimately decided we wanted to brick the bottom portion of the fireplace, so we started googling and watching YouTube videos to become familiar with the process. Like a lot of DIY projects we have done, we had no idea how to do it, so thank goodness for other’s tutorials!
We decided on using reclaimed thin-brick and painting it white. (Reclaimed thin brick is actual old brick that they have cut down, so it is much thinner and easier to install.) I wanted the reclaimed look, as I didn’t want it to look like a brand new fireplace. And while I do love the look of unpainted brick fireplaces, I knew all along I wanted it to be painted white brick with a white oak mantle to match our flooring. So, reclaimed brick it was!
Here is where I must use a disclaimer- I will use “we” below a lot. Most of the time the term “we” refers to my husband with this project. Just wanted to clear this up 🙂 in case he decides to come along and read my bog post!
First step was removing the existing mantle as well as the hearth. The drywall remained in tact as the thin brick we decided to use will go right over the top of this.
We measured the fireplace and ordered the thin brick. We used this thin brick and these corner pieces.
Next, a thin layer of tile adhesive was spread everywhere the bricks would be placed. We let this dry for 24 hours. This is the tile adhesive we used.
We taped everything off (the actual heat & glo fireplace insert, built-in cabinet next to fireplace, and the flooring.)
Ready for our reclaimed thin brick! We laid the thin brick just like you would tile (placing ¼” tile spacers between each brick.) We used the same tile adhesive mentioned above on the back of each brick before placing them on the fireplace.
Next, we used mortar mix to fill in between each brick. This is the mortar mix we used.
The process is like piping frosting from a bag but on a larger scale. My husband used a mortar bag to pipe the mortar between the bricks and smoothed it out with his fingertip.
We let the mortar dry for 30 days before we painted it. This was definitely controversial. My husband was ready to paint day 7, but I read online you should let it dry for 30 days, and I am a rule follower, and also the painter, so 30 days it was!
The picture above shows the color of the mortar after it had dried. This photo also shows where we had to cut the bricks to fit around the built-in. We used a tile saw for this.
Time to paint! We used the same color as we have on our walls for the fireplace. I talked to the paint store where I shop for my paint for some advice on the type I should use. I wasn’t sure if I needed a brick paint or not. His advice was the paint I had used on our walls would work just fine. So, we painted the fireplace using Benjamin Moore Simply White in their Aura line in eggshell finish. I couldn’t be happier with the results!
Our mantle is the only part of our fireplace that we hired out. I knew all along that I wanted it to be simple and white oak. We hired a friend of ours to do the mantle, and let me tell you, that was definitely money well spent. He came in after the fireplace was complete, measured for it and he and my husband installed it.
You can see the side of the mantle and fireplace in this photo above.
In the above photo you can see the bottom of the mantle. The top was built the same way.
This is definitely a DIY project I would do again without question. We are so happy with the end result!
As always, let me know if you have any questions!
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