Marble tile fireplace facelift.
One of my favourite features in the master bedroom is the fireplace. I never knew how much I'd enjoy having a fireplace in my bedroom until this house. But, although the fireplace creates a lovely atmosphere aesthetically and physically, its presentation in the room was not so hot.
The original installation was really strange; there was a drywall box, which was built to house the insert and a faux stone surround and mantel attached to the drywall box. Having both the box and the stone surround was like having two mantels on one fireplace. It looked so awkward. My hubby and I could not wait to fix it right up!
After some brainstorming and gathering ideas, we both agreed that the faux stone surround had to go. We would keep the drywall box and work with it. The master bedroom is a rather generous size and the fireplace needed height so that it would be more proportional to the size of the room. To solve this issue, the plan was to extend the fireplace to the ceiling by adding a smaller and narrower box on top of the existing drywall box. The entire fireplace would be covered in a neutral polished marble tile and we would build a wood mantel to sit on top of the bottom box.
We started by removing the faux stone surround. A couple of nudges with a crow bar and this puppy came right off!
Next, the frame for the upper extension was built out of 2x4s and installed into place.
The extension was then covered drywall. We also added a layer of new drywall on top of the existing drywall on the front of the original box. We did this for two reasons; first, when the faux stone surround was removed, the fireplace insert extended out of the box quite significantly. The new layer of drywall provided just the right thickness such that, when installed, the marble tiles would be flush with the face of the fireplace insert. Secondly, there was a some damage done to the original drywall during removal of the stone surround, so instead of cutting and patching pieces of damaged areas, it was simply faster and easier to recover with new material.
The next step was to paint the new drywall with construction primer to ensure that the stone mortar would effectively adhere. Once the primer was dry, the fireplace was ready to tile.
We fell in love with a really nice, rectangular, medium-sized, polished marble tile we stumbled upon at our local Lowe's. When we went to pick them up for our project, we just happened to run into Bryan Baeumler, HGTV's reno star, who was there promoting the grand opening of the store. He was very friendly and kind, and provided us with some advice on which type of mortar would be best used for our project. He also didn't hesitate to pose for a picture with us!
The next step was to tile the entire fireplace. To keep lines straight and modern, I attached the tiles in a simple, stacking pattern with no grout lines. Then, I worked on the lower bigger box. Again, I started with the bottom rows, working my way up on each side of the fireplace insert. To keep the tiles directly above the fireplace insert in place as the mortar dried, I temporarily screwed in a long piece of wood, right along the top edge of the fireplace insert. This served as a ledge/support for those tiles, preventing them from sliding down. Once the mortar dried and the tiles were securely in place, I removed the wooden ledge and filled that row in with tiles. I also used thin wood and paper wedges wherever necessary, inserted between tiles to maintain a level horizontal line.
Although the tiles were installed side by side with no grout lines, nevertheless, small gaps were still visible between tiles, especially in areas where wedges were used. A thin dab of grout between the tiles solved this problem and gave an overall flawless appearance. Finally, the entire fireplace was washed with soapy water to remove any excess grout, revealing the polished finish on the tile. To complete the project, we built a mantel out of maple wood and stained it to match the rest of the accent wood finishes in the room. The mantel fit on the top surface and down a few inches over the front and sides of the original bottom box. To secure it in place, it was simply screwed in to the box along the back top surface.
The result is fabulous! Where before the fireplace was low, bulky, and had two awkward mantels, it is now modern, sleek, and presents itself beautifully. The top extension gives height and proportion, while the wood mantel wraps around and serves as a great surface for displaying some of our favourite art and decorative accent pieces.