Home Improvement Adventures: The Fireplace

After years of putting Michelle off on several home improvement projects, I finally decided this year that I was just going to plunge in and get some stuff done. The problem with these projects is that I hate doing stuff around the house. I really do. I’d much rather spend my weekend riding the motorcycle to interesting places than do hard labor on the house. It’s getting to where I can’t put stuff off any longer though so it’s time to buckle down.

The first project was some minor beautification to our yards. We’ve never really completed the back yard in the 16 years we’ve lived in our house. Right now it’s just a small lawn and a lot of dirt. We have a plan for it finally and I’m going to execute that plan by the end of summer, but in the mean time I decided to at least get some nice plants back in our pots and get some cushions for the furniture. Michelle has a friend that is kicking down some cushions and we went and bought a half dozen plants and put them in and so our back yard is at least tolerable until we get time to do the whole thing.

The real project this weekend was to replace the fireplace hearth and surround. This is the first step in replacing our nasty carpet with something else. I did some reading on concrete hearths and decided I could make one myself. Saturday we bought the materials to make the form and all the ingredients to make the concrete. We also bought the surround tile.

Sunday morning I started on the concrete form bright and early. It went together much easier than I thought and it pays to think things through ahead of time. It also helps tohave a friend in construction who can cut all the pieces for you! The form went together well and it’s caulked and ready for concrete. I’ll be pouring that probably Friday night or Saturday morning.

After the form was done I went to tearing out the existing tile and let me tell you, that is a NIGHTMARE. the tile comes out pretty easily, but getting the old thinset off is super hard. I sat there for several hours with a mallet and a chisel breaking that crap up. Luckily I only had about 8 square feed to do. Any more than that and I would have waited until I could get my hands on an impact hammer. The job got done though and so it’s stripped and cleaned and ready for concrete and tile.

So I’m pretty excited about everything. It’s going to be super nice. I just don’t want these projects to go unfinished for months and months. So I’m pushing hard for Michelle to make quick design decisions and then I’m just barreling ahead with the work. Once this fireplace is done we’ll have the huge task of replacing the floors throughout our house. and then it’s on to the backyard, which should be the easiest of the projects.

One last note on forming concrete though; This is a pretty cool method for making all kinds of neat stuff. If it turns out well, i think I’ll do some countertops for the bathrooms. Here’s a link to Cheng Concrete where I got my materials.

Concrete Countertops – How To, Ideas & Design