The fireplace is an eyesore, not the grand focal point your room deserves. So reface it rather than replace it to save money and keep the renovation simple. Refacing the surround is a job you can handle yourself, in as little time as an afternoon. Choose the stone, brick or tile facade of your dreams and restore the fireplace to center stage.
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Dingy old brick -- painted, stained or just tired -- gets new life with an inexpensive bright, light paint job. Clean the brick to remove dust, dirt and soot; then paint it a light color such as a bisque or pale smoke.
Things You'll Need
- Paint, in several shades
- Synthetic sponge
Scissors or craft knife
- Clear-coat sealant
Roll on the paint and work more paint into the grout and uneven surfaces with a brush.
Cut a synthetic sponge to the exact shape of a brick and pour a small amount of one or more slightly darker shades of your paint on separate disposable plates.
Barely dip the dry sponge into one color paint and press it lightly against a brick. Vary the amount of paint and the colors on the entire face of the fireplace, including a bricked chimney breast.
If you decide to seal your work to make cleaning easier, use a clear, matte finish.
Glass tile works for traditional and contemporary fireplaces and might pick up another important color in the room, or create a mosaic or scenic picture around the firebox. Choose tile with copper highlights to mimic flickering flames. Surround an ornate fireplace with a fleur-de-lis pattern or a rustic dining room fireplace with tiles painted with fruits or vegetables. Tiles adhere to the substrate with mastic or thinset. Mastic is a resin that sticks tiles securely in place but is vulnerable to water. Thinset is cement that dries rock hard, but you'll have to use spacers to keep tiles from sliding downward while the thinset hardens. Glass tiles allow for quick wipe-down cleaning and are fire-resistant. But they need one surface to stick to -- the metal that may be around the firebox and the drywall on the rest of the surround cool at different rates. The difference can destabilize tile adhesive and cause eventual loosening or cracking. Install tile on a single surface to ensure a long-lasting facade.
Brick and Stone Veneer
Cover the old fireplace surround with veneer that is lightweight but substantial enough to look solid and be fireproof. Brick veneer comes in a variety of colors and finishes to resemble aged or new brick; stone veneer can be rough or smooth with surfaces varying from large river stones to ragged granite or natural slate. You can buy faux stones to cut and glue in place -- simple to customize with a hack saw to create an uneven natural look. The kits come with a special adhesive that bonds securely to the existing surface. Real veneer or a faux veneer kit may be a less costly option than glass tile and quicker to install.
It takes more than one material for a fireplace wall that's pure spectacle. Reface the firebox surround and the hearth with custom-cut slabs of real marble. Find bargains at stone quarries that have leftover pieces of stone from kitchen or bathroom makeovers, and have the stonecutters there carve out the pieces to fit your space. Once the marble is fixed in place, cover the rest of the wall with pre-made panels of woven wood. The wood is sinuous in horizontal waves about the size of bricks and catches gleams of daylight and flickers of firelight to reflect them back into the room. The contrast between the wood and stone is a dynamic element in a modern decor.