Ugly brick fireplace and a limited budget

So, I have an ugly brick fireplace that I'd like to "enhance":
http://www.malch.com/nikon/DSD_2769.jpg
Sadly, the budget is very limited. So, I'm thinking in terms of a granite (or similar) tile.
I understand it is feasible to tile over the brick. However, my gut feel suggests it would be better to remove the bricks first, install a new cementboard backer, and tile over that.
I would maybe add a ready made (wood) shelf mantel.
Any thoughts on those approaches? Other suggestions welcome.
I'm also a little nervous about running into a whole slew of (expensive) code issues (I'm in CA). Is that likely to derail the whole project?
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You can paint brick. Why not try that first in case it meets your needs?
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Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Yeah although I think it will look a bit naff. Kinda like, ummmm, painted brick ;-)
Also, I'm concerned that the paint may rule out the option of tiling directly OVER the brick. And screwing a cementboard backer to the brick and tiling over that starts to make the whole struture disproportionately large.
I haven't totally ruled it out but was interested in exploring something a little better. A natural stone tile seemed like a viable approach that wouldn't bust the bank.
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On Jan 21, 10:57 am, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

Looks like a good candidate for tiling. I have seen some beautiful fireplaces done in regular ceramic tile - nice handpainted tiles, or patterns in the tile, etc. Not sure why you would want backerboard unless you are worried about an uneven surface. -- H
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Yes, although my preference would be for natural stone. Slab would be great but the cost is prohibitive. But I've seen some natural stone tiles that a reasonably priced.

Yes, the brickwork doesn't look that even to me. Also, on the vertical surfaces, it would assure sound adhesion. I think it's possible the bricks were at some point wiped with linseed oil or some other color enhancement treatment.
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"Malcolm Hoar" wrote

I'd get a mantle with sides down to the floor (looks like you have about 4 inches there?). This would be flush to the sides but not over the brick (check code, your sides are quite minimal as it is).
Then probably tile the bottom part where the base extends, since that's the main 'bad' there. Also, the base isnt very high. Not sure on code specs where you are but I've not seen any that low here.
I wouldnt paint it if you plan to ever use it.
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wrote:

Interesting, thank you. I think maybe I'll call one of the inspectors at City Hall before I go much further.
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On Jan 21, 11:57 am, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

It's not very attractive as is, but I think a lot of the problem is that the paint around it is just too light. The contrast is too great.
I'd pick out one of the lighter colors from the brick (I can see terra cotta and perhaps peach) and paint at least the wall behind the fireplace. You're definitely on the right track with the color of the accessories on top.
A mantel would be nice; the fireplace looks a bit like a face with no eyebrows.
As other posters have said, painted brick looks terrible. I wouldn't go that way.
If you're determined to have a completely new look, then go ahead and reface it or replace it. However, if that doesn't work out (time, finances, code, etc.), you always have the cheap and easy option to try a different color on the wall behind it.
Cindy Hamilton
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Thank you for an excellent suggestion. If refacing with a natural stone tile doesn't work out for reasons of cost, or code issues, we can certainly try to soften the contrast with a quick paint job on that wall.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

Nobody else said it, so I will. That fireplace looks like a metal prefab, and that brick looks entirely decorative, and probably removable. (Looks a lot like my faux fireplace.) Is your outside chimney brick, or sided like the house? What year was house built, and/or the fireplace installed? Hard to say without a closer look, but I'd almost bet all that brick would pop off there in about 20 minutes, including the hearth. It would then just be a matter of building back with something fireproof in a color you like. Only likely code issues would be the required air space around the tin box, and required distance of non-flammable materials for hearth and surrounding the opening. Likely there is already backerboard behind the brick on the wall.
But I could be wrong. -- aem sends...
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The house was built about 20 years ago and yes, I think you're exactly right... those bricks should pop off quite easily.
I will try and speak with a city inspector to try and get a handle on the code issues. I simply have no experience with the fireplace codes and no feel for how stringent they are aside from the common sense precautions of using only fire rated materials in the immediate vicinity.
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On Jan 21, 5:02 pm, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

be really sure about that. i thought so too in my slump block fireplace. popped the blocks out, and was left with a hole and nothing to tile on. i had to rebuild it with bricks again.
you can tile granite tiles right over the bricks. if that isn't flat enough, skim coat it with thinset, or thin wonderboard, and tile on that.
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Gary Player. |

I'm sorry, man, but that is one ugly fireplace. I don't suppose you can sue the prior owner, because you bought the place. I can think of a few simple things.
1. Put some dark paneling on the wall right behind. That might lessen the impact of the bricks.
2. Those bricks must have been color-enhanced somehow. See what a bit of sandpaper will do.
3. Paint the bricks with whitewash or limewash. You'll have white bricks for a while, but the whitewash/limewash wil shrink and peel over time, and leave a very attractive brick surface.
4. A mantel is a good idea. You can make a decent one from 2x8 pine with some braces cut from the same board, then fancied up with a jigsaw.
5. Offer it to the next movie company to do a remake of the Brady Bunch. Take the proceeds and move to Tucson, where you can learn the joys of adobe.
6. Or stay in CA, and explore the real joys of a doobie.
7. A stick of dynamite or a bit of C-4 is a last resort. Blow that mo-fo out of there and claim it as a chimney fire.
good luck
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No need to sugar coat it ;-)
Yeah, the house is mainly pretty decent but it came with a few fairly gross features most of which are now history.
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OP might try cleaning brick with muriatic acid, its pretty bad looking now, how much worse can you make it:)
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Hmmm, well I might just try a spot test with muriatic and maybe even some bleach. A bleaching might just help.
Having said that, general observation suggests that bricks retain their pigments even after very significant weathering and UV exposure. Heck, I've seen brick buildings that are still bright red after many hundreds of years.
I did try sanding a spot as suggested by another poster -- it looked a little lighter, until I wiped off the dust.
It will get replaced at some point. It's just a matter of budget and whether to remove the bricks or simply hide them with a new natural stone facade. Nothing that can't be fixed with the application of sufficient $$$.
In the meantime, by the way, I do think it would be quite simple to make the thing look a lot worse. Painting the bricks is probably one way ;-)
Nevertheless, I thank everyone for their suggestions, however crazy ;-)
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On Jan 21, 11:57 am, snipped-for-privacy@malch.com (Malcolm Hoar) wrote:

I tiled over mine that was similar to what you have. I didn't have the raised hearth to deal with but you could tile that as well or wrap edges with wood of your choice. Of course check the code but I doubt it would be an issue because you would be adding the would to the outside edges of the hearth and not reducing the non-flammable area.
They way I attached my tile to the face of the brick was with good old Liquid Nails. Ran a good thick bead on the back of each tile Pressed in place then pulled it off put back in place and let go
Not a one has even thought about coming loose. I used tiles with straight edges and didn't bother leaving a grout space, just butted them together. Nothing that is going to win me a design award but way better than most of the crap you see on HGTV.
Disclaimer: I have only used my fireplace once since I 'glued' on the tiles a year ago but I doubt the minimal heat is going to affect Liquid Nails if you use yours regularly. If it does then mix up some mortar and slap them back up.
Cheap & easy way to cover up some ugly brick.
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