First floor hearth / chimney breast

I`m working from memory on this one so i`ll apologise for any vagueness !
In my front bedroom I have a chimney breast with a small air vent in there. In the past I would assume (perhaps wrongly) that it would have been an open fire. The proximity of the fire and hearth would have been worryingly close to an adjacent wall I would have thought though - about 2' to the centre
Dodgy ascii follows :-}
| chimney breast | <-2'-> ------|v|----|w (v=vent) |hearth| |a -------- |l |l
In front of where the fire "was" there`s what I seem to remember being a concreted area about 2' * 1' which is slightly high ("lumpy") in relation to the rest of the floor, but has had carpet put over it in the past. The rest of the floor is of normal construction with joists and floorboards.
Without measuring it up, i`m not sure where this concreted area lies in relation to the chimney breast on the ground floor, but... i`m wondering whether it would be possible to replace the un-level concrete (would it need to be concrete ?) to at least level the floor out a little :-}
It`s a constant reminder walking around that side of the bed every day and standing on a wonky floor :-}
Just to confuse me even more, there`s another air vent to the right of the crap ascii picture in the back room "chimney breast" which doesn`t seem to have a concrete "hearth" and is only about 30" wide in total, so any heat source would have been within about 12" of the wall shown above.
I`m starting to hate this house - its only taken me 15 years and every DIY attempt a failure to get to this stage :-}
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Colin Wilson wrote in message ...

up easily, and not worth trying to skim just a bit off the top. A couple of 4x2s on edge with a sheet of 3/4" ply on top is usually the right sort of depth. The last one I did had plenty of solid timber underneath to fix the new joists to. This was in a bathroom where a wash basin was being fitted against the breast, and there was nowhere for the pipes to run. I made his life easier but he forgot to leave me a tile gap behind the basin. That's plumbers for you.
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The old stone hearth was laid in to the joists around the fireplace in the olden days. Once you lift the edge timbers you'll see that the hearth just lifts out, and once out you fill the joists back in with pieces of timber and cover them up with board. Remember that older floor boards are a bit thicker than modern ones, so find out the difference between them before you fill the joists in, and then make up the difference with the fillets.
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I'm in the middle of doing this exact job at the moment and have done a few before.
The concrete will not be deep and will have been laid over either stone flags or a wooden cradle. Best thing is to remove it totally with a chisel and hammer or your SDS on roto-stop etc.
Then, replace with wood, installing new joists if necessary to support the boards. Some people use a sheet of ply but I have actually knocked out the complete fireplace so I'm going to use matching floorboards (yes, you can always still get any size) and board right to the back of the fireplace.
Actually, of all the ones I've done before, this one looks the best. I have removed the plaster for about a foot all the way around the opening and then finished off the bricks so that the effect is that of framing the nice brick and recess, into which I will sit (for decoration only) an old enamel wood burning stove.
Hope that helps with regard to the floor. Let me know if you need more help but definitely remove that concrete which is proud of the rest of the floor.
Rob
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<snip>

Thanks for the replies everyone - i`m as impressed as ever with the help around here ;-)
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