Brick wall vs. brick fireplace

Janice5January 30, 2013

Why is it that an original brick interior wall is so desirable but a brick fireplace is often the first thing people update?

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kkaymorgan

Interesting - I guess they feel the brick wall adds character, and a brick fireplace can look dated. I feel both can be transformed to go with any style

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 5:18PM
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hosenemesis

Heh heh. Great question. I love brick fireplaces, but I love brick walls more. I think it's because I never see brick walls, but fireplaces are a dime a dozen.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 9:34PM
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palimpsest

Usually the brick is different. The brick fireplaces that I see updated most are kind of plunked in the middle of a plaster or drywall wall and don't have much of a relationship to the room--they are just an isolated rectangle of bricks.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 10:57PM
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patty_cakes

Not all brick fireplaces 'are created equal', While some may be too simple or dated, others are sure to stand the test of time.

I find this one to be very unique, and could never bring myself to paint it, or destroy it with a modern face lift.

Here is a link that might be useful: fireplace

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 11:08PM
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anele_gw

Here is mine. Sorry for the messy pic. You can see why I want to change it!

I do not like it! It is very hard to work around. I want to rip up the carpeting and refinish the hardwood, but the room is so narrow where the FP is, that if I get an area rug to extend past it, it will look like a runner. If I put a rug only near the sofa/chair , the rug seems too small.

The lamps were from my last FP, which was small and white. They do not go at all with this one. The FP screen was from a different FP in our last house, and it also does not go.

I am trying to embrace this FP for now, until someday I can put something over the brick (not sure if drywall is safe for a working FP) and then put a salvaged one over it.

One thing I like about it is that you can see it from the dining room, so it serves to be viewed from 2 rooms. BUt, I need it to look GOOD.

As my DD says, it looks like it belongs in some dark castle. I am trying to find accessories that are tough enough to take it on!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:44AM
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cathleen_ni_houlihan

I think this fireplace would look much nicer with refinished hardwood flooring.

I have a small living room with a fireplace that protrudes into it. I was also at a loss about what to do about a rug until a designer suggested having one custom made in a "U" shape that fits around it. It looks great! It lays 6 inches from the walls, but only about 2 inches from the fireplace.

I think a brass fireplace screen and tools would also warm it up.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 1:13AM
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anele_gw

Cathleen, I would love to see a pic if possible!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 1:31AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I think it's because the color of the brick can be awful....most brick walls I've see are the standard brick color and style. I think too that many of the awful fireplaces were never built with the scale of the room in mind so are these massive hulks that dominate the space, tend to get sooty, and tend to have a mix of materials, many with poorly coordinated colors. The style of the brick on many fireplaces can also become dated. The other elements in the fireplace can also look dated...like shelving or raised hearths. The wall is usually just a wall that adds some color and texture.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:37AM
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cathleen_ni_houlihan

Here's the pic. The rug is actually 8 inches from the walls. (I wish it were six.) Like your fireplace, mine is wider at the back and narrower at the front, so the rug is cut about two inches from the widest point.

I used to have a rectangular area rug in this room. I think the custom rug does a lot to pull the room together. It makes it look bigger and seems to give me more functional space.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:25PM
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pirula

I have one of these brick fireplaces. We rather like ours, the brick is rather nice (to us) and it exactly matches the exterior brick that covers the house. The previous owner built the bookcases on either side.

The raised hearth is no doubt dated, but the house is 40 years old and we decided to keep it (and the very vintage living room window) to reference aspects of the original house. That raised hearth is also tremendously valuable at parties, it's very comfortable to sit on, and in a room that's not the largest in the world, extra seating is terrific.

My one beef with it is that the living room faces north/east. It's not the brightest room in the world during the day (although it isn't dark per se). I've often thought of painting it or covering it up to brighten things up. But in the end, I can never do it.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:17PM
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dianamo_1

That's such a pretty room, Pirula!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 10:29PM
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hosenemesis

Pirula, I'm glad you could never do it. Your fireplace is just beautiful.
Anele's fireplace is a good example of why people paint brick fireplaces.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:06AM
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Oakley

When did raised hearths become "dated?" I don't have one but we do have a rock bench next to the FP. If we didn't have the bench I'd certainly have a raised hearth. Nothing is better than sitting next to a fire on a hearth!

As Pirula said, the extra seating is great!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:22AM
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anele_gw

Cathleen, thank you! What a pretty room!

Pirula, love your room, too! I think your FP looks like a brick wall more than a FP, because it is so nicely integrated

Hose, I would never paint the FP. The only times I think a FP looks OK painted is when it is white or cream, and 99% of the time, the trim is also painted so that it blends. I would never paint my trim. Or, the whole room is white or cream, which I do not want. If I could redo the mortar in a lighter color, that would help more, but I really just want to reface.

This post was edited by anele on Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 9:50

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:47AM
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tuesday_2008

Anele have you considered staining your brick? I'm thinking your could get some richness and dimension to your brick with stain, making it look more like Pirula's (which I really, really like). Funcolors posted about brick stains a few months ago. You should research that option.

Also, have you researched cleaning the soot from your brick? Not even sure if it can be done.

You seem to be quite the DIY'r - I bet you can make that look much nicer. What color paint are you considering for your walls?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:19AM
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anele_gw

Tuesday, I have researched staining but have yet to see a DIY tutorial in which I liked the results. Do you have any images of stained brick that you think looks esp. good?

I totally agree about cleaning the brick. THis is a new-to-us house (moved in Sept.) and there is a lot to be done. Getting the FP cleaned is definitely on the list.

Not a good DIYer-- I have a lot of plans, but it takes so long for them to come to fruition! RE: color of the walls, not sure.

This is my curtain fabric, though it is much more muted IRL (website photo):

I want something without a lot of contrast w/the fabric and wood trim.

Another option I am considering is stucco. From what I've read, it is an easy and cheap DIY project, and I've always liked stucco FP.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:52AM
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tuesday_2008

Here is a GW link to a dyed brick makeover. I think it is an awesome job. Even if you don't like going to a red brick, it is a great example of how bricks can be stained. I especially like the variation of colors.

I took a quick look at Dyebrick.com - they have many color choices.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW stained/dyed brick post

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:20PM
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anele_gw

Thank you, Tuesday! I have seen the Dyebrick site-- the problem I keep coming back to is the mortar. No color will look good with what I have. It is just an ugly, dirty black. I don't think my brick would look nearly as bad if it didn't look disgustingly dirty (brick would not be great, but not so horrible). Not sure if it is just REALLY dirty, or of mortar comes in different colors? In other words, was this look on purpose???

How hard would this be to fix as a DIY job?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:37PM
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tuesday_2008

The mortar won't look dirty with the right shade of brick :).

Not the same situation, but my exterior brick is a traditional red blend (lots of red with some sand faced and some black-smudged faced). I insisted on black mortar while everyone was telling me to go light because black cost more and would fade. I still wanted black because the black faded to charcoal. We had to do some brick repair and I went with black again. It sticks out like a sore thumb, but in a year or two, it will fade to charcoal. Just the nature of the stuff.

Don't mean to be a thorn in your side, but I still want you to work on that brick :).

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:14PM
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tuesday_2008

The mortar won't look dirty with the right shade of brick :).

Not the same situation, but my exterior brick is a traditional red blend (lots of red with some sand faced and some black-smudged faced). I insisted on black mortar while everyone was telling me to go light because black cost more and would fade. I still wanted black because the black faded to charcoal. We had to do some brick repair and I went with black again. It sticks out like a sore thumb, but in a year or two, it will fade to charcoal. Just the nature of the stuff.

Don't mean to be a thorn in your side, but I still want you to work on that brick :).

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:15PM
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anele_gw

Tuesday, you are so awesome to help me!

So, based on the idea that it's the color of my brick that is the problem, I looked up images online of dark mortar, and when I was out driving, looked for homes. I could find pretty much NO pics/IRL homes with dark mortar. Would you say that, esp. since yours is outdoor, it WILL fade, whereas mine being indoors (in a dark room), will just stay as-is?

Anyway, I have yet to see a pic of dark mortar that I like.

The room is narrow, so I think the enormity of the FP combined with the unattractive B/M is a problem. I am not sure what my options are, though, given that I want to maintain it as a working FP and that my budget is teeny! (Many DIY projects are done w/non-working FPs). I am thinking drywall or stucco would be the best options. Dunno.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 2:12AM
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palimpsest

Anele, your fireplace seems to have deeply raked mortar joints. I am wondering if you could repoint the bricks with a lighter colored mortar, similar to the brick color right over the other mortar. Maybe someone can weigh in on this possibility.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 11:04AM
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anele_gw

Pal, you are absolutely right. It is very deep. Here is my primitive job of using Paint (ha, ha!) to do my own virtual tuckpointing. To me, it makes a HUGE difference to fix the mortar (and get the soot cleaned). I think I could be OK with this FP for awhile if we get the mortar and soot taken care of.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:07AM
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anele_gw

One more comparison. I have spent way too much time with the fake tuckpointing . . .

BEFORE

AFTER

This post was edited by anele on Sun, Feb 3, 13 at 0:51

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 12:37AM
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pirula

Wow! That's so much nicer!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 8:15AM
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anele_gw

Thanks, Pirula. Weird how a small change can make a big difference.

Now I have to figure out how to get this done on the cheap. I was reading about mortar and it was making my head spin. So complicated.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:14AM
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pirula

Oh I see. God I'm SO stupid. I thought you had actually painted the mortar!!!

I'm sorry, but I do think this is a great way to go, it looks really great. That and eliminating the soot is the way to go!

I wonder if a chimney sweep company is the answer? I know our sweep is great at cleaning anyway. Not sure if they do repointing. You may need a mason for that.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 5:55PM
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anele_gw

No, not stupid, Pirula! I just have awesome "Paint" skills, hahaha! (And WHO would spend all of that time doing a fake job besides me?)

I do wonder about the chimney sweep. They would be a good start, and we need it cleaned/inspected anyway. The article I read (link below) said something about how some people know how to tuckpoint, but not repoint. Why does this have to be so complicated? I read some comment on Houzz that a DIYer just slapped some mortar on herself and was done with it.

Here is a link that might be useful: More about mortar than you really want to know

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:48AM
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pirula

That was actually very interesting! I'd start with a sweep, you need it cleaned and inspected inside and out anyway, and go from there. Our sweep recently did some repairs in our fireplaces, but I don't know if they do repointing. That seems more of an art form.....

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 8:56AM
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pirula

Btw Cathleen, your room is really lovely....

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 9:01AM
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