convert brick fireplace to tile?

I have a brick fireplace like this: http://www.smugmug.com/gallery/28353179_QQL5kZ
I don't like the bricks -- rough surfaces are hard to clean, and the hearth (brick floor) takes up alot of space.
Can the brick hearth be simply pried off and replaced with a smaller tiled hearth? What is under the brick hearth, wood flooring like the rest of the room, or a block of concrete?
Ideally, I would like to make the hearth into tiled, like in this picture:
http://i268.photobucket.com/albums/jj29/LaylaPalmer/Kerry%20Palmer/fireplace_makeover_25.jpg
I'm planning to hire some contractor for this job but I want to understand how much work is involved.
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Not being able to see the construction, I have no idea what is under the brick. I'm sure it can be taken up though, It may be a concrete slab, it may be wood. Any mortar would have to be scrapped, then either a skim coat or backer board put in place for the tile.
Two thoughts come to mind.
You may need a concrete backer board under the tile to meet code You may not be able to make it smaller and still meet code.
I'm not up on the latest requirements or you local codes, but often an apron of some minimal distance is needed so hot embers and ash do not start a fire. Just plain common sense on that, but find out for sure. This is a start: The hearth extension is the front part of the surrounding, the bottom edge of the fireplace which extends out across the floor. For most fireplaces, this extension must be at least 16 inches deep and 8 inches wider on each side to protect the immediate floor from heat damage or combustion. Naturally, the surround materials should also be fireproof, which is why stone, brick and rock materials are all common. For very large fireplaces, with openings larger than 6 square feet, the extension needs to be at least 20 inches deep and a foot wider on each side.
Read more: Fireplace Surround Requirements | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/info_12201611_fireplace-surround-requirements.html#ixzz2N5G4JOss
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Bob:
Perhaps you could help us out a little here:
1. What is that "thing" set in the floor to the left of the fire place. All the gas shut off valves I've ever seen in my life have been ordinary bronze plug or ball valves, and that thing looks more like a sewer clean out. Also, there appears to be sufficient clearance under the grille at the bottom of that fireplace to accomodate a 3/4 inch ball valve, so there'd be no reason to locate the valve in/under the floor (?) some distance from the fire place.
2. Does this house have a basement? If not, is it sitting on a concrete slab?
If the house has a basement, then your floor will be constructed of wood and those bricks are most likely set in a mortar bed on the wood, or set in thin set on tile backer board screwed down to the wood underlayment. (Those bricks aren't heavy enough to require concrete under them to support their weight.)
3. Oren says he sees a wood floor (presumably in the corner beside that "thing" set into the carpet). To my eye, it just looks like the carpet is either bleached, stained or just dirty there because there's no clear "gap" under the baseboard as you would expect if the carpet were missing.
Is it possible to pull back the carpet in that corner and check to see if the floor under the carpet is wood or a concrete slab?
4. In that second picture, it looks like the hearth is made of white marble, or white tiling that looks like marble. Marble is metamorphed limestone. It's limestone that's been compacted by the weight of the Earth's crust and/or oceans while being heated by geothermal heat. It's a lot harder and stronger than limestone, but it's still not really hard enough to be a good choice for a flooring material. Yes, they have marble floors in a lot of old buildings, but those floors are cleaned every day by janitors so they don't get all dirty, and that's important because the sand that comes off of people's shoes in winter will scratch up marble. Sand underfoot, depending on what it's made of, will scratch up any flooring, which is why cleanliness is next to Godliness.
So, if you do pull up those bricks, then replace them with either granite or Porcelain floor tiles. Porcelain tiles come in both matte and gloss, and the gloss tiles are just as glossy as polished marble, but very much more durable. Porcelain floor tiles are the hardest and strongest ceramic floor tiles you can get, and they're typically used in areas of heavy foot traffic, like shopping centers. Porcelain tiles are fired just like other ceramic tiles, so they'll stand up to embers as well as any other ceramic material.
[image:
http://tiles.ie/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Calcata-White-Floor-Tiles.jpg ]
24 inch square "Calcutta White" porcelain floor tiles are made to look like polished marble.
--
nestork


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It looks to me like something may have been sitting on the carpet there for a long time and was just recently removed. That spot looks to me like it could be squashed down carpet.

Yes, looks like a gas valve for a firelplace to me too.
As for the main question, the brick on the floor is not a problem. If the rest of the floor is of wood construction, ie there is a basement or crawl space, then the brick is just mortared to the subfloor and can be easily removed. If there is slab under the floor in that room, then it's mortared to that and can be removed.
The bigger question is the rest of the brick around the fireplace. With typical modern builder type fireplace, they use an insert for the fireplace and what goes around it is there for decoration and isn't part of the fireplace at all.
Is the brick sticking out from the wall, either entirely or by the thickness of a brick minus maybe a 1/2"? Is it relatively new construction, not a converted old fireplace? If so, then the brick is just decorative and will come right off. What's inside the fireplace? Does the brick continue into the fireplace itself? If yes, then the brick is likely part of the actual fireplace structure and the work to change it could potentially be a lot more involved. However, since you're using tile, it's also very possible the tile could just go over the existing brick that's around the face of the fireplace, as long as the resulting increase in build-out doesn't cause problems. You just deal with that as part of the wood, mantle, etc that goes around the whole thing.
All in all, from what I can see, this doesn't look like a huge project and it's probably straightforward.
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' snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net[_2_ Wrote: >

> for a long time and was just recently removed. That spot looks to me > like it could be squashed down carpet. When furniture legs leave depressions in a carpet, those are actually called carpet "dents". If that's a carpet dent, it's gotta be the worst one I've ever seen. It appears to crush the carpet pile (and presumably the underpad beneath) right down to nothing, and then there's a further square shaped depression right in the middle of the dent.

I've never seen that kind of gas valve. Why would they put it in the middle of the floor like that? Doing that would necessitate putting some furniture over top of it to hide it. And, of course, it's gonna be a pain in the butt to install any kind of flooring around it.
The bigger question is the rest of the brick around the fireplace.
No, that brickwork wasn't done by a rank amateur. I expect that whoever did it purchased extra bricks and had the faces cut off them so that the wall "bricks" are only 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick or so and just stuck up on the wall like ceramic tiles with mastic or thin set. The fireplace itself simply isn't strong enough to support the weight of real bricks above it, and the weight of real bricks would prevent you from being able to remove/replace that fireplace. I think we can presume that the wall "bricks" are thin enough to be supported by the drywall or tile backer board and purely deorative.
Is it relatively new construction, not a converted old fireplace? If so, then the brick is just decorative and will come right off.
I agree the brick is probably just stuck to the drywall. But, removing those faux bricks is probably going to muck up the drywall surface paper necessitating the replacement of the drywall surrounding the fireplace. No big deal, but the homeowner says he wants to know what will be require so far as work goes.
He might want to consider simply tiling over top of the existing brick with thin set. Any ceramic material will be good in terms of dimensional stability, and dimensional stability is what you need in any substrate for ceramic tiling.
All in all, from what I can see, this doesn't look like a huge project and it's probably straightforward.
Yes, but I wouldn't nominate this as a first project for a newbie. This would be one for a more experienced DIY'er cuz you're going to need to drywall, set tile, and probably do something at the cut edge of the carpet. And since the fireplace is going to be the focal point of the room, everything's gotta look well done.
--
nestork


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nestork wrote:

Not hard to install anything around it because they are in two parts, top part - what you see - screws in and has a flange maybe 1/8 thick.. Install valve, install floor around it, cover floor with top part.
No idea why it is out in left field like that. Best guess is that the wall - an exterior one - didn't lend itself to a gas pipe and valve.
--

dadiOH
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You can't tell exactly what it is from the pics. But it could be that something heavy was sitting there, next to the fireplace.

They are very common here in the USA

Because it was a convenient spot when they were running the gas line? Not saying it's the best spot, but that's where it is.
 >Doing that would necessitate putting

Only if you insist on hiding it. It's not the worst thing, IMO.
 >And, of course, it's gonna be

Why? The carpet went right around it.

No one said it was.

You'd have to be nuts to go through all that. If you want thin veneer like brick or stone, it's available.
> The fireplace itself simply

Who knows how any of it is or isn't supported.
>and the

When was that a concern when building a fireplace? Plenty of fireplaces are not easy to rip out and put in a new one. A good reason for that is a decent real fireplace should last the life of the home. And an insert, well, it's an insert and can be replaced.

You really think so?
 No

 >This

If you read the post, he's not proposing to do the work himself.

Wow, you really think so?
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The round thing with square hole is the valve for the gas fireplace. There's another fireplace in the family room with the same floor valve. I have no idea why it is put in the floor. The house was built in 1982; it may just be customary.
It is a good point it would be a pain to place flooring around that valve -- and I'm about to replace the carpet with hardwood floor --probably engineered wood floating.
Above the valve is crushed carpet from a 10 pound weight (to hold down a sheet of plastic covering the fireplace).
I pried off a corner brick and the front row of bricks is indeed sitting on a mortar bed on top of plywood subfloor.
Below the fireplace is a crawlspace. I added some photos showing the fireplace in the crawlspace. Looks like there is some crooked concrete structure below the bricks. Is this standard way to support a fireplace?
Another issue with removing the hearth is the legs of the wooden frame (mantel?) would then hang in the air. Could the mantel be removed, the hearth and faux brick wall removed, new tiled hearth put in, and then the mantel put back at a lowered level?
Do I need to hire a fireplace contractor to do this, or would any general contractor/handyman be able to do this? I prefer the tiled hearth to be flushed with the floor (same level). Can the wood floor butt against the tiled hearth or do the wood floor need an expansion gap, which would be ugly.
Should I do the wood floor first and then tile the fireplace, or tile the fireplace first and then the wood floor? Which is more likely to end up with a flushed floor?
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The valve is typical. Where it's placed depends on the gas line routing, available locations, etc.

Any competent installer can deal with it, it;s no big deal.

Thank you. Exactly as I thought.

Bingo

OMG! No!
It's hard to tell exactly what they did, but it looks like a disaster waiting to happen. There doesn't seem to be much under the fireplace holding it. And it it goes, it's connected to a GAS LINE. IMO, that is the real serious problem here.

Probably, depending on how the mantel is secured, what shape it's in when removed. Might be easier, cheaper, faster to just use a new one.

A general contractor should be able to handle it.

I'd keep the tile just a bit above the floor and use a trim piece of wood around it. That makes the install a lot easier. It's going to be hard to set the tile at exactly the same height as the floor, cut everything to fit perfectly, etc. A trim piece takes car of that.

Do the fireplace first.
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