Changing the look of fireplace

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Changing the look of fireplace

Postby Sienna » Thu Mar 10, 2005 4:50 pm


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Postby designmatters » Fri Mar 11, 2005 10:47 am

There are many things you could do. You can paint it (white or another color), but it will still look like brick, just painted. Bricks are usually out of place in most modern homes, but stone is not uncommon.

If you are going to re-face the fireplace, you need to determine if the bricks are actually part of the fireplace construction or just a veneer (in most construction in the last 70 years, especially So Cal, the bricks will be a veneer). If they are a Veneer, they can be removed and you can face the fireplace with any number of materials. If they are part of the fireplace's construction, you can wear them down & attach a new facing, or possibily veneer right over them.

Here are some ideas: You could take slate and create a geometric pattern around your fireplace:

http://www.upstatelinks.com/fsbo/home/sample/5a.jpg

Or here's a cut flagstone fireplace, with uniform bands of cut stone:

http://www.zunibyharris.com/Flagstone/hearths.htm

And here's a cut flagstone fireplace with varying sizes in a modern home:

http://www.kathrynwaltzer.com/projects_res3-2.html

Good luck!

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Postby Joe » Fri Mar 11, 2005 10:50 am

If it's original, I suggest maybe sandblasting it.

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Postby L.A.kevin » Fri Mar 11, 2005 10:59 am

I like brick.

Lots of mid century modern houses used it. It's maintenance free. Paint is always going to require touch up.

One treatment of brick I've always liked is when the brick has the vertical joints heavy grouted, and the horizontal bricks are raked. This emphasizes the horizontal lines and makes the fireplace look larger. A lot of detail oriented architects like Schindler and Neutra used this. Maybe if you want a change, this might be a alternative to paint.

I think a lot of people are occustomed to expecting all midcentury modern houses to be stark white everywhere. In the 70's, there was a craze to slap on a coat of white on everything- I guess to try and make things less midcentury modern and more "contemporary." A lot of 50's midcentury design tried to emphasize the materials and celebrate their richness, even if the materials in question were as prosaic as masonite, brick, plywood, or concrete block. Having mainly black and white pictures, also tends to skew our view of history.

Consider this: it will cost a hell of a lot of money and time to undo an hour's worth of can and brush.

Kevin

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Postby SDR » Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:45 pm


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Keep the brick

Postby moderns-r-us » Tue Mar 15, 2005 11:11 pm


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Postby johnnyapollo » Wed Mar 16, 2005 3:40 am


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Re: Keep the brick

Postby Joe » Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:57 am


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Re: Keep the brick

Postby Sienna » Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:09 am


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Postby sid » Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:16 am

SID

MISSING my long and straight beams, stretching from the outside and piercing through the interior and back out again; seeing it all in one glance! WOW, it was gorgeous!

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Postby Sienna » Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:25 am


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Postby Joe » Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:44 am


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Postby Sienna » Wed Mar 16, 2005 9:50 am


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Postby sid » Wed Mar 16, 2005 10:25 am

SID



MISSING my long and straight beams, stretching from the outside and piercing through the interior and back out again; seeing it all in one glance! WOW, it was gorgeous!

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Postby Joe » Wed Mar 16, 2005 10:38 am


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Postby SDR » Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:32 am


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Postby moderns-r-us » Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:06 pm

Sienna:

I read my own post again along with the new posts and realized that my earlier comments could have been read as a little harsh. I apologize for that and I am thankful that you read it in the manner that it was intended. (I hope) Think of it as a little MCM (That's mid-century modern for SDR) wake up call.

I just get a little passionate about these mid-century modern home issues!

Now that you have reminded me that you have brick details on the outside of your house I am standing even more resolved that the thing to do is restore the existing fireplace as needed and not "remodel" it. (Notice that I did not say "Home Depotized.")

Good luck with the house. Fight the good fight and above all else have fun with the project.

There will be days when you ask yourself is this worth it, but in the end you will forget about all that and be proud that you did it right.

mru (that's moderns-r-us for SDR)

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Postby johnnyapollo » Wed Mar 16, 2005 7:26 pm

Hey SDR,

In reference to firebrick - my fireplace does not have it, nor did it ever. Design unity - yes - however the interior of my fireplace is crumbling like a sandcastle left during incoming tide. I'm now looking for something to resurface - I'm thinking some type of firebrick but haven't seen anything promising yet. I'll keep you posted.

-- John

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Postby SDR » Wed Mar 16, 2005 8:17 pm

Masonry might be my "fantasy profession" but I'm hardly knowledgeable. Wouldn't it be likely that the damaged brick could be removed, and replaced with the correct material?

Until recently, I wondered how it could be that many Wright fireplaces (someone could fill a "cofee-table book" with them, in all their variety!) seem so oddly proportioned; seemingly too high (and shallow ?) to conform to the supposed "correct" opening-to-flue proportions. Then I saw something about the Rumford Fireplace on "This Old House," and there was the very image of it: a tall fireplace with a shallow and tapered rear wall, designed to reflect the maximum heat out into the room. The narrow throat and particular shape of the flue area just above it (?) creates the necessary acceleration of air flow to properly draw the smoke up the chimney. Who knew?

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Postby L.A.kevin » Thu Mar 17, 2005 6:57 am


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Postby moderns-r-us » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:18 am

And Count Rumford figured it out too!

http://www.rumford.com/articleWhat.html

If you want to build a Rumford. Here is the site to check out. Nowadays it is nearly a kit of parts.

http://www.rumford.com/

I have designed Rumford fireplaces for years and I love them.

This one is a little deeper than normal with the thickness of the stone veneer.

I dealt with the blonde fire brick in this fireplace by using lamp black to "blackout" the inside of the fireplace. You get black streaks on the blonde fire brick after the first fire anyway.

This company also makes certified fireplaces for those restricted by air quality issues.
Last edited by moderns-r-us on Tue Aug 30, 2005 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby SDR » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:28 am

Da. Leave it to Wright to fail ever to mention such an important contribution to his work -- he would have preferred to have been the inventor of the fireplace, period!

That IS quite a fireplace, mru. Is that a steel lintel on the chimney breast? Looks suspiciously like a Peter Bohlin house, to me. . .

Odd to hear that the Rumford "craze" was said to be over by 1850. Even perfection becomes passe?

SDR

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Postby moderns-r-us » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:35 am

Sometimes the hands of the master are not his hands at all!
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Postby moderns-r-us » Thu Mar 17, 2005 8:44 am

The steel lintel was meant to honor an older steel bridge that one passed over on the way to the house. It had deep steel trusses that you drove through made of built up steel girders. Ironically the bridge was torn down and replaced with a bland concrete DOT bridge as the house was being finished. The exposed chimney mass was a representation of the owners nearby hometown of Factoryville, PA.

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Postby Sienna » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:01 am

Okay, you guys are getting way too technical for me :oops:

:cheers:

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Postby moderns-r-us » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:08 am


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Postby SDR » Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:52 am

Geez, is my face red, sir -- I didn't even get to the bottom of the page before sounding off. I'm glad you've taken the appropriate credit for a significant acomplishment, and humbly apologize for a serious insult.

Yeah -- furnituremakers, too, get to watch "the boss" cheerfully take credit for their work. "Well, I PAY them, what MORE do they want?"

SDR

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Postby puzzle » Fri Mar 18, 2005 11:05 am


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Postby SDR » Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:59 pm

Well, for my money (whatever that means!) I would have settled for the original raked-horizontal-mortar bed brickwork, painted or not -- it is a unique and cherished characteristic of post-Wrightian modernism. (As you have by now noted, opinions differ on the efficacy of various methods of paint removal; the inclusion of steaming as an option may be a major contribution to the discussion.) Is it too late to uncover and restore the original fireplace brick? Even leaving paint in the mortar-bed, while cleaning the raised faces of the bricks (if feasible) would be more than acceptable, to me.

In what ways has the exterior brickwork not "aged well"? At the Robie House of Wright (Chicago, 1909) the roman brick was filled in its vertical joints with brick-colored mortar, made flush with the surface, while the horizontal beds were of ordinary cement, raked 1/4". Notoriously, some later re-pointing was done erroneously, the new mortar flush with the surface, destroying the original shadow-line and, thus, the horizontal linearity so characteristic of the house.

Raked-bed brickwork implies (as it should) that the vertical joints have been suppressed, either by closing the gaps between bricks to a minimum, and/or by filling those vertical joints flush to the surface, ideally with brick-colored mortar. This is an "idealized," streamlined version of ordinary brick-laying, conforming to the ideals of continuity and horizontality (hallmarks of much modern architecture) -- and, while obviously the result of extra attention and labor, it just "looks good"!

SDR

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Postby puzzle » Fri Mar 18, 2005 3:38 pm

By not aging well, I mean it's crumbly/chipped and fading. But now I'm thinking we're not talking about the same kind of brick... I did a google search for "raked brick" and came up with Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water home, but I'm not sure what pictures they are referring to. If it's those cool stacked stones, we don't have the same thing (unfortunately!)

The kind of brick I'm talking about is that red kind that looks like it's had a fork dragged through it (for lack of a better description). I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to chip the plaster veneer off the fireplace, but I'm also sure the brick underneath is probably worse for wear, and for some reason I just really can't stand rough brick or wood that's been painted. If I'm gonna do it, I'd rather just start from scratch (and maybe get a two sided fireplace while we're at it).


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