September 9, 2009

The New Hearth - Phase 2

In the comments of The New Hearth - Phase 1, Dorothy asked about what was underneath the new slab. This is a good question, and I can tell you that we poured it over the old concrete hearth, which was built directly on the ground when the house was built. If we had to put it on top of wood flooring, we would have had to take extra measures to protect the floor from heat.

While the concrete was curing, we discussed options about what to put on top of it, such as tile, stone, or brick. True to our "use it up / make it do" mindset, the only answer in the end was to reuse the chimney and fireplace brick we had just taken down....

Our x-chimney & fireplaceThis brick is original to the house, which was built in the 1920s, so it is 80 years old at least. It was not made with modern methods, and so the bricks are not uniform in size. We have two different types....

Cross section of handmade rolled brickThis is the cross section of one of the handmade ones. The clay was rolled into shape and put into a mold just like kneaded bread dough in a bread pan.

End of hand-sliced brickThis one was likely made by a machine which pressed out long ribbons of clay, which were cut into the individual bricks. If you are interested in more detail about how bricks used to be made, you can read it here, at How Bricks Were Made

Anyway, back to our project. The first step was to decide on a pattern for the bricks...

1st we played with the bricks until we liked the pattern.The second step was to "glue" the bricks in place with a masons mix.

Mortar being appliedFinally mortar was applied to fill in the spaces between the bricks.

To be thoroughly cleaned after it cures.An hour later, DH scraped the excess off with a trowel. Three hours after that, a stiff brush was used to remove even more. The last step will be to use a brick & mortar cleaner to remove any mortar remaining on the brick surfaces themselves. We plan to finish all the brick work first however, and then clean it all at the same time.
Theresa asked what kind of wood stove we have. It's a Woodstock Soapstone stove, and we definitely plan to have it in before it starts to get chilly at night! :)

Next - the step we didn't plan on.

Photos & text of The New Hearth - Phase 2 are copyright 

13 comments:

Geodyne said...

I love that you're reusing as many old materials as possible, Leigh. It keeps the materials true to the house: you just can't get bricks like that anymore.

bspinner said...

I love the idea of using the old brick for your fire place. Each one is so unique and beautiful like old pottery. Rascal has seen to had given the project his stamp of approval or is he marking his territory with the anticipation of a nice warm fire.

charlotte said...

I love that you re-use those very special old bricks. What an enormous amount of work to rebuild the whole fireplace.

Julie said...

I love old brick! Its going to look so good when your done. We have pellet stove in our fireplaces because the pellet are made out of sawdust. I like them better than burning wood because wood is very bad for the air.

DEEP END OF THE LOOM said...

I love the use of the old brick, it was interesting to see the difference in them. I was wondering why would you get a soap stone fireplace instead of using wood in the hearth? I don't really know anything about fireplaces and it's probably a dumb questions but inquiring minds want to know.

MiniKat said...

Phase 2 looks fantastic. I see the Rascal has been snooper-vising. :-)

bspinner said...

It takes me awhile to notice things. Just took notice of your new header. Very Nice!!!

Renee said...

Glad to see that you're keeping Rascal hard at work snoopervising there. He seems to approve.

so is the next step to finish up that opening?

Theresa said...

So, does cat hair improve the strength of brick and mortar I wonder? The new hearth looks great.

Leigh said...

Geodyne, I'm beginning to see these bricks as real treasures. As I work to clean them up, I can't help but notice how much individual character they have.

Barb, Rascal doesn't know yet that his new spot will shortly be occupied by that woodstove! Oh, and I only changed the header the morning of this post, so you actually caught it right on time.

Charlotte, I have to admit that we won't be rebuilding the entire fireplace, just creating a walled in alcove for it. Upcoming photos will explain it better than words thought.

Julie, um, isn't sawdust made out of wood??? *lol.

We thought about a pellet stove after seeing one on This Old House. The pellets certainly do look less messy to work with and easier to store. For us though, the problem was availability and price of those pellets, especially because this stove is our only heat source. Consequently having our own wood lot was one of the "must haves" when we looked for a place.

We chose a Woodstock stove for two reasons. One is the soapstone which has an excellent ability to retain heat, and the second is because they are equipped with catalytic combustors, which not only burn particulate emissions, but also exhaust gases such as carbon monoxide, methane, benzene, etc. The noticeable benefit from this is that the catalytic combustor turns these nasties into heat energy, thus increasing the stove's heating efficiency. An added bonus is that these stoves qualify for Pres. Obama's energy tax credit.

Pellet stoves definitely have the best EPA emissions rating on their own. When one considers the energy required to make and ship the pellets though, I wonder how well they actually stack up in the end.

Deep End, the answer to that is primarily back in this post, Bad News About The Fireplace. The chimney was in such bad shape that the fireplace had to come down. Also, fireplaces aren't very energy efficient. The Woodstock Soapstone Woodstove only need to be loaded twice a day!

Minikat, the funny thing about that is that he always seems to know when I get the camera out. He invariably presents himself front and center any time I try to take photos!

Renee, yes, we'll brick up the old opening by creating a brick wall around the back and sides of the new hearth. Photos soon!

Theresa, *lol. Maybe we should do a scientific study. We certainly have enough cat hairs around the place!

Woolly Bits said...

we had a problem with the height of our stove, when we rebuilt around it. but eventually we found old tiles from the greenhouse of our old convent - thrown away into a ditch! we used those in red and black and are very happy with our very own piece of history of the area in the living room:)) I wonder though: is there a reason why the two front bricks are sticking out from the rest of the square???

Leigh said...

Oh Bettina, that's a "design element." ;) I love it that you found and used those old tiles. There is such a sense of satisfaction in re-purposing things, isn't there? Maybe sometime you'll post a photo of it on your blog. I'd love to see it!

Dorothy said...

Nice work!!

I love old bricks. I like to see that you are looking after and re-using them.

Many of the bricks used in our house (it's stone outside, but has brick inner walls)are stamped with the name of a nearby village where there was a brickworks, using local clay.

We also use a stove because they are so much more efficient than open fires, also safer. When we had an open fire an awful thing happened - Oscar was sleeping by the fire and a glowing ember flew out of the fire and set his fur alight. My boyfriend caught Oscar and smoothered the smouldering fur with his hand. Poor Oscar was o.k., but never went near a fire again and when we had a stove and opened the door he would get up and walk to the other end of the room until the door was safely shut.