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
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
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.
24 inch square "Calcutta White" porcelain floor tiles are made to look
like polished marble.