So, you bought a new home and your fireplace isn't what you'd hoped it would be. Maybe, the fireplace you've had for years is beginning to look outdated or worn down. What do you do?
The good news is, if you're considering a complete fireplace remodel, this is the article for you! We are going to discuss ways you can update your fireplace yourself, along with ideas that may require a professionals help. It's all here, in one handy article, just waiting for you to explore. So sit back, relax, and happy reading!
- destroyed living room
For the sake of organization, and your sanity, I will divide remodeling options into two large categories. The first will be options that may require a professional's help. This includes a complete rebuild, installing a fireplace insert, or adding fireplace doors.
The second grouping will be options for a DIY fireplace remodel like: repainting, cleaning your fireplace liners or adding door overlays.
So, let's not waste any more time and get right to it.
- home repair couple
Fireplace remodeling that requires skill or professional help
Starting over from scratch:
The first and most time-consuming option you have is to start over from scratch. However, the benefit of starting from scratch is... you're the boss! You can create anything you want without having to work around the size/style of the fireplace you already have. However, if you are starting over completely, you will need help with vent pipe clearances, running new gas lines (if you are changing from a wood burning fireplace to a gas appliance), and code regulations. To begin the process of educating yourself on what all you need to completely remodel your fireplace, check out this guide.
Installing a new fireplace insert:
Your second option, that achieves the look of a brand new fireplace with half of the work, is installing an insert. Fireplace inserts can be the more affordable and “user-friendly” option compared to a full remodel of your existing fireplace. Though, they do come with their own set of requirements. For gas fireplace inserts, you will need an operable gas line to the fireplace, venting requirements (for both gas and wood burning fireplaces) as well as understanding how to measure your existing fireplace so you can fit the insert into the unit.
- how to measure for fireplace insert
We've already created an article to guide you in choosing a fireplace insert. So, if you think this might be the route you want to go, look no further than our fireplace insert buyers guide.
Adding or replacing your fireplace doors:
The third option you have, that may require some assistance, is adding or updating your fireplace doors. Out of the three options so far, this is the easiest hands down. While it's a simpler solution to add some pizzazz to your fireplace, some doors require using power tools and knowledge of how to anchor them. So, many times, it is helpful to call a professional to do the job for you. At the very least, you can call one of our NFI certified technicians to assist you along the way. There are also model specific door kits available to help with this process, like this IHP/Superior 36 Inch Extruded Aluminum Bi-Fold Glass Doors. Also, you can click here for a step by step guide to fireplace doors.
Last in our group of options for that require a higher level of skill is replacing or adding a mantel. You can do a DIY fireplace mantel, but there are a few things you need to know first. Installing a new fireplace mantel is not a project for the average Joe (or Josephina.) It can require a few power tools, knowledge of leveling and centering, and several hands to hold it steady so it glides into place without damage. This can be done if you have the tools and understanding.. or a few handy friends. Otherwise, you will need to hire someone to install the fireplace mantel to ensure you don't damage it while trying to put it into place.
- mantel against brick fireplace
If you'd like to get an idea of what is involved before trying to install it yourself, click this link for a video from Pearl Mantels with step by step instructions. Once you click the link and scroll down to the Buyers Guide, the video will be roughly halfway through the article under the section labeled “Styles”.
DIY Fireplace Remodel
Now we made it to the fun part! All the options you can do yourself. If you aren't that handy with tools or are looking for a less labor-intensive option, this short list of DIY fireplace remodeling ideas might work best for you!
A) Fireplaces still in use
If your fireplace is still able to be used (and will continue to be used in the future), the materials used to make it will determine what options you have for remodeling. Whether you have a wood burning or gas fireplace doesn't matter so much as whether it is a “pre-fabricated” fireplace or a traditional masonry fireplace.
First, let's start with pre-fabricated fireplaces. Pre-fab means it is mostly made of metal, in a manufacturing plant and shipped to your home after it is built. You can not, under any circumstance, use regular latex paint on the inside or outside of this type of fireplace. Latex paint is combustible and will not work on a fireplace surface that can reach extreme temperatures. You need a special fireplace paint to handle the intense heat. Thankfully, our store sells a wide variety of fireplace paint, which isn't always easy to find in colors other than black. Click here to see the options. You can filter by color on the left-hand side of the menu.
- pre fab fireplace
You also can not add wood to any outside surface that will touch the metal portion of the fireplace. As we all know, wood will burn when it gets too hot. So, if you like your fireplace and don't want to start from scratch, please do not try to remodel your prefabricated fireplace either of these ways!
The second group to review is masonry fireplaces. This type of fireplace is made completely of brick or stone. As with the pre-fab fireplace, you can not use latex paint on the inside of the feature. However, brick and stone transfer heat less readily than metal. So, the outside won't be nearly as hot as the inside. So, on the outside/around the facing you are free to use regular paint. You can whitewash those bricks to your heart's desire!
- masonry fireplace
B) Fireplaces no longer being used
Speaking of white washing, let's move on to options for painting a fireplace that will no longer be used for fires. Some fireplaces end up being condemned by the city and are no longer allowed to be used because of faulty chimneys. That may seem like a downer, but it does give you a lot more options to paint and/or decorate your fireplace however you want.
So, now you can German schmear, whitewash or limewash the inside AND outside of your fireplace and no one can say anything about it! Now, if you have spent any amount of time online trying to decide what is the best way to repaint your fireplace, chances are you have come across one of the above terms. Since the terminology can be kind of confusing, let's stop for a second and go over the differences.
German Schmear – This is a technique that mimics the look of irregular stones, which was common on old cottages and castles in Germany. To achieve the German schmear look, you partially cover the color of your brick or stone by layering white paint over wet mortar.
- German schmear
Click here to be directed to the owner of this photo.
Since the outcome depends on how heavy you layer the mortar and paint, no two outcomes will be exactly the same. So, that gives you complete freedom on how much brick or stone you want to be exposed.
White washing – Whitewashing is very similar to the German schmear technique, except you cover the surface of your brick or stone with a mix of water and latex paint vs. the wet mortar and paint blend. This is a great option if you like the textured look of your brick but want a more neutral color to blend in with the rest of your living space.
- White washing
Photo credit goes to this website
Limewash – Limewashing is the final of three, similar but slightly different, options for painting your fireplace. Limewashing uses the same technique as whitewashing and German schmear except you paint with a blend of limestone, tint, and water. It's that simple. The outcome for limewashing is nearly identical to the outcome with whitewashing as shown in the picture above.
Now, if you are not interested in the “antique” look or want an option instead of white, we sell other, more vibrant, fireplace paint colors like: Cobalt Blue, Green Illusion, or Gold. This paint will look beautiful on any fireplace you have, as well as, be able to stand up to the pressure of high temperatures.
Scrubbing liners to bring life to an old appliance:
If it seems like we spent a TON of time talking about paint, we did. So, if you would like a less time-consuming option, or you only want to bring some life into your existing fireplace, you can try cleaning your liners and interior. Most pre-fab fireplaces are made with a cast concrete liner that mimics the look of firebrick. Over time, they can become darkened and appear to be dirty. But a quick scrub with a 50/50 mix of water and muriatic acid will clean them right up!
If you happen to have an older model fireplace, it may come with a metal interior. Due to normal wear and tear, this can end up rusted and dirty. So, sanding them down with 120 grit sandpaper will bring life back to your unit in no time. Don't forget to wear a mask while sanding, as ferrous oxide dust is hazardous to your health!
Now, before you say it, let me put this out there... Yes, there are more options to remodel your fireplace! Yes, we are going to cover them because that's what we do. Thank you for reading this far. We are in the home stretch.
Fireplace door overlays:
Fireplace door overlays are the more user-friendly option if you decide to update your fireplace doors. Typical doors have two pieces of glass that fold to the left and right to create the opening. However, fireplace door overlays can cover the entire metal face of the fireplace. Their installation is either magnetic or spring-loaded and they can be customized for your specific fireplace! Design Specialties has a beautiful door overlay option you can see here to decide whether a new door overlay is the best option for you.
Adding artificial logs without a burner:
We saved the best for last! This is the easiest way to remodel your fireplace and give it an updated look. For fireplaces that are no longer in use, you can buy “white birch” or “coastal driftwood” styled artificial logs, without a burner, to bring a fresh, new look to your unit. With these new logs and a fresh coat of paint, your space will look brand new in no time.
If you are looking for new logs, with a burner, there are more styles and sizes than you could ever imagine. Check out this page to pick out your perfect gas log set!
With that, I believe we have reached the end. I think we have finally covered it all! I know that was a ton of information. Though, I hope you feel informed and ready to tackle your remodel because of it! Thank you for reading.