Removing brick, moving mantle on fireplace - cost? big deal?

planningnutMarch 8, 2008

Hi - we have a brick-to-ceiling fireplace with a beautiful old barnboard mantle. I adore this fireplace. But, I need to put a TV up there (long story) and want to move the mantle down (it's too high, whether I put a TV there or not) and remove all of the brick above the mantle. Will open up the room, let me put the tv there etc.

Is this a big deal to do? How hard is it to remove brick from drywall, and then re-drywall?

The other question is, how expensive would be it be to brick a new fireplace (ie/ remove all the brick and start again) - this would be a great idea since the shape of the fireplace is odd...

Thanks everyone!

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It's never too hard knocking things down! It's the patching up later that's the problem.

Why do you assume there's drywall behind the brick?

For wood burning fireplaces, what's usually behind the finish brick should be fireplace flues and a layer or two of backup brick to safely contain the heat. The backup brick is not pretty, the mortar is not neat.

To hang drywall from it, or plaster it even and plumb will take some skill and experience. And you may want to check local Codes to be sure that the face brick you removed isn't required.

I don't know local prices. But I would expect you'd be charged in the range of $750-$1,500, plus materials, for a professional mason. It's at least two days work.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 12:37PM
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I think the bolts you will need to attach to the wall for hanging the TV are a concern. How far into the wall will they need to go, and how can you be sure they will not damage or compromise the ducts in the chimney?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 8:53PM
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How far does your brick stick out from the wall next to it? We have an odd-looking 1960s fireplace, with the top part protruding beyond the firebox. Since I hate that fireplace, I removed some huge mirrors and knocked a big hole in the drywall to see what was behind there. We found: a brick chimney that has sloppy mortar, then framing for the drywall bump out about 6" out beyond the chimney. Based on my exploratory surgery, my guess is that if your firebox doesn't stick out from the side wall at all, it is likely that you will need to be concerned with heat from the chimney if you are trying to mount electronics there.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 12:58AM
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You can drywall over existing brick and many people have installed new stone(the lightweight, thin bricks) over existing brick. If you do a search on the internet, you'll come up with lots of advice. If you're planning on covering up all or part of it, sounds like a better way to go than removing the existing brick.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 5:49PM
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We removed two rows of brick from our fireplace last year to lower our mantle a smidge. And what was behind it was not pretty. Had to hire a drywall guy that knew what he was doing to cover the new open area. That's all I would take off - Worthy is right. If it's a true masonry fireplace you won't have drywall behind the brick. In other words, it's not a veneer. It's integral to the fireplace.

Better to frame over the brick and install new drywall and put new tile or something over the brick below the mantle then to start messing with the brick that goes up to the ceiling.

Or else pick another wall/spot to hang your TV.

That's another issue - if you burn wood in your fireplace, the heat from the fireplace can damage your TV.

Then there is also the issue of the viewing angle. Many folks regret putting their TV up above a mantle because they have to crane their neck up to watch TV. Do a search on the GW about this subject here and over in the Home Decorating forum. I've seen enough regrets to not want to pursue it.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:18PM
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I actually just went through this. My family room had a floor to ceiling brick veneer wall with fireplace and a hearth spanning the length of the wall which extended out about 18" x 18".

B/c the wall was a veneer (i.e. a single layer of brick butting up against studs and insulation) I was leary of framing over it with 2" x 4" to hang drywall, shelves, TV's etc. It was also huge (20' x 10' wall), took up too much space and made the room look a lot darker. I believe alot of home owners did this back in the 70's, but the wife and I just weren't into it.

In any event, for removal, I thought about using an angle grinder with a diamond wheel, but then I thought of the incredible amount of dust which would be generated and went after it instead with a cold pick chisel (or brick chisel) and a small sledgehammer (otherwise known as a "drilling" hammer).

I'd basically go at it with the chisel in the mortar seams. Once I got the top row out (it butted right up to the ceiling drywall) the rest of the wall came down relatively easily. It took about 3 days (30 hours) and once completed I counted over 500 bricks and about 20 bags of broken mortar. I decided to save the whole bricks I was able to harvest from the wall and clean them with the chisel to remove excess mortar in case I'd like to use it for a future project (which probably added 2-4 hours to the job).

As others have noted in this forum, the veneer is "held" to the studs and/or back wall using small thin strips of metal. The center of the strip is nailed to the stud and the ends of the strip were stuck into the morter between the bricks.

The 18" extruding hearth was a little more difficult as the inside center (once I removed the outside bricks) contained large cement blocks. To "frame" out the fireplace and hearth to the size that we wanted I used the chisel and cut bricks where necessary. This by no means gives you a smooth cut, and I will need to tack a frame back around the fireplace edge and fill in the gaps with mortar to complete the job.

Above the fireplace underneath the veneer was either brick, cement or a wooden header (at the top). When attaching studs to this I used both tapcons and masonery nails. Luckily I had a large wooden header at the top of the wall which I screwed into with 3" nails to hold the top of my stud frame. I first screwed/nailed in two by fours and then build it up further with 1" x 4" studs. Extending the depth of the frame was necessary so that I'd have enough space in the wall above the fireplace to contain electrical boxes, electical/video/audio cables and in-wall speakers. I also used this new frame to fasten the HDTV to.

Other's have noted concerns about fireplace heat in regards to hanging HDTV above it and installing framing ontop of the brick. Our fireplace holds a wood pellet stove that is a closed system to increase efficiency. In this way, little heat actually goes up and out the chimney as a blower motor forces it all out into the room. I have little heat above the fireplace b/c of the way the stove is engineered, so I wasn't too concerned about damaging the TV or excessive heating of the chimney material above the fireplace creating a fire hazard with the wood frame that was added.

I'll admit, it was alot of work and alot of material to remove, but then again, demo-ing a room (especially a room built back in the 60's) is always a messy job. Hope this info helps anyone interested in tackling the same job.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 3:32PM
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