Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Fireplace Remodel Day Fifteen

Finally it's Saturday! Time to get serious! First things first - we installed a new dust barrier in the hallway; this will enable us to generate dust at the lightwell and around the shoe rack without spreading it around the rest of the house....hopefully.


Next up was sanding the recently skimmed drywall to the right of the fireplace and re-filling the low points. 


Same again in the lightwell...


It came out nice:


And...finally back to the reason we're all here: The fireplace!  The top section of the firebox, and the part to which the glass fire doors attach consists of a length of three (3) inch steel angle. It was set into the brickwork that we bashed out on day #1, but without it the firebox is several inches taller than the doors. A set of replacement doors is over $Grand.00, so I had to figure out a way of re-installing the existing piece of steel.

A fair bit of head scratching went into the how to securely attach the steel. Eventually I shelled out a measly 30 bucks for a six inch ferrous-unfriendly blade for the cordless circular saw and chopped the steel down to 42 inches so that it fitted snugly into the top of the firebox. Here it is resting on a couple of scrap pieces of lumber:


After the test-fit, the steel angle was taken down to the workshop and subjected to the drill press which was armed with one of your finest 5/16th drill bits:


I also knocked up a bunch of spacers from some two inch wide steel bar I happened to have kicking around in my welding bay. I drilled the spacers out to 7/16ths to give me plenty of wiggle room.


The angle beam was then bolted to the brickwork at the top of the firebox with way more concrete anchors than were necessary.


The "finished look":


The steel was not in place more than ten minutes before we installed some timber forming around the firebox to support the thin set mortar.


It took us a couple of tries to get the consistency right, and then the brickwork surrounding the firebox was covered with the first layer of thin set. It will take several layers, but untimely we are aiming for a completely flat wall that we can (easily) tile over.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Fireplace Remodel Day Fourteen

OK, so I had about  ¾ 's of a day off work, and it was time to work on the plywood pad in front of the fireplace where the tile will ultimately be installed. I made this panel a while back, but I didn't secure it because it wasn't level - in either direction!


I faffed around for about forty minutes installing shims and hitting some parts of the framing with the belt sander, and I managed to get the plywood as close to level as the rest of the house. That is to say it slopes somewhat, but in an identical fashion to the surrounding floor.


I made the plywood panel quite a bit bigger than I needed, so that the hardwood floor which butts up to the tile will overlap the plywood - and be nailed into it. This way, there is (hopefully) no weak point where the tile may crack. The slight issue here was that my sheet of plywood is about an ⅛ of an inch thicker than the surrounding subfloor. I solved this by marking out exactly where the tile will go...


...and trimming off the excess ⅛ with the a straight bit in the router. This is part way through:


The plywood panel was then screwed off to the framing and secured to the masonry pad with concrete anchors. After that it was solid as a rock and flat too. Yipee!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Fireplace Remodel Day Twelve and a ½

So today's episode is another compilation of little bits of progress we made since the last post. We wanted to get the dining room side re-opened, so we decided to clean this area up, move the plastic dust barrier back to the edge of the living room, and throw a rug over the unfinished hardwood flooring. We're going to to get the living room completely finished before we come back to this area, so this is probably the last you'll see of the dining room side for a bit.


Quite a change since day #1:


I've been having some problems getting the drywall compound to adhere over the upper section of the wall to the right of the fireplace - this is the bit we didn't replace. I ended up removing my first skim layer, and sanding/scraping all the thick, old paint off this area:


Then I re-skimmed up to what will be the junction with the fireplace tile:


Did some more work on the section of wall I extended.


Finished putting the first skim layer on the lightwell.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Fireplace Remodel Day Twelve

Day #12 was only a half day really; it's been a busy week and weekend, so we needed some downtime. By the time we were ready to get back at it, the texture on the drywall was all nice and dry. The walls at the dining room side were painted with primer/stain blocker, and declared finished...apart from final painting.



The same goes for the front side of the living area. This corner of the room is now a useful area for piling up tools and other construction detritus.


The shoe rack got a dividing panel, two completely new shelves at the right side, and two more face plates. Eventually the left side will be a shoe rack with three shelves, and the right side will be a cabinet with doors which match those at the other end of the hallway. I did say eventually! It also got another temporary top panel.


We managed to skim the drywall in half of the lightwell too before we called it a day. So far we have used four of the big 5 gallon buckets of drywall compound.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Fireplace Remodel Day Eleven

Day #11 and my assistant was back after a hard week at work. We started off with a crack-of-dawn raid on the local big box store to replenish supplies, and then it was time to get crackin'. First job: applying texture to the three walls I have spent the last week making perfectly flat....at least it went on easy!


While the texturing was in progress I went back to work on modifying the shoe rack. This is how it looked after I took off the temporary back and top and chopped out both the shelves:


I installed a new birch plywood back panel, and then I was able to install my metal corner piece and finish up skimming the drywall adjacent to the shoe rack


I had to clean up the face panel which I just trimmed roughly last time around. I clamped a two (2) inch wide strip of steel to the inside of the face panel - this acts as a guide for the router's flush trim bit to ride on


This is part way through the process...it came out quite nice. I have to clean up the corners with a chisel.


After the drywall was textured my assistant moved on to taping and filling all the joints at the lightwell below the skylight that we installed a few months ago.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

Fireplace Remodel Day Ten

Day #10 was Friday, and I had most of the day off work - if only every week was like this....!  After a little bit of light sanding, the three walls at the dining room side were declared flat and dry, including the corners.




On to the floor! The leveling compound I installed yesterday was completely cured, so I started figuring out how to patch in the new hardwood flooring.


One of the ends of the original boards wasn't square, and I wanted to cut some of the other boards back a bit to disguise the repairs. I've developed my own method for doing this, so I thought I'd show it in full in my blog....but be warned: this doesn't work for tongue and groove flooring or for anything that has been installed with adhesive.


I start by prying the board up from the end and work my way along the board. It doesn't matter if you damage the end of the board, since it will be trimmed off, but you have to be very careful not to damage the adjacent boards and not to split the board you're trying to lift. My Grandfather, who would have been 113 this year, would have said "Patience is a virtue." I want to lift the board enough to cut through it, but not remove it completely.


The circular saw is set to 1/4 inch depth. I happen to have an almost new crosscutting blade on the saw which is perfect for this application.


I like to make my cut very close to a nail line; a piece of scrap wood is inserted below where I want to cut. This protects the adjacent boards and the subfloor from the saw blade.



I make a square cut by running the saw against my framing square. I like to make a couple of practice cuts before I go for the important one.


The trimmed board can be re-installed by placing a piece of scrap wood place over the nails and letting you hammer do it's worst. If you're careful about this you can put the board back without disrupting the nail hole filler or the finish. If you're going to be re-finishing the floor, less care is needed...


The result is a perfect match between old and new boards:


I did the same for the other two boards and then had a trial install. The new material was very slightly wider than the original boards, so I removed a few thou' with the block plane.  But....this was also where I discovered that the leveling compound was actually not very level....and was proud of the subfloor in places. I think this is because I was rushing to install the compound and I made it too viscous. I'm presently unsure how to proceed with this part of the project, so I moved on to the other side.


The leveling compound on the living room side was pretty level, fortunately, with a slight peak in the center.


I cut a piece of 3/4 inch plywood which extends several inches beyond the area the will be tiled. The plywood came out very close to level - I will need to make some shims before I anchor the plywood; something else to come back to later...


Time to skim some more drywall! This is how the wall between the fireplace and the shoe rack looked the last time around:


This area was mostly finished by the end of Friday afternoon; there is a small section adjacent to the shoe rack which isn't quit ready to be skimmed just yet...and I ran out of drywall mud :(