Tue. May 21st, 2024

We’ve been stalled on our reno work for a while because we’ve been trying to figure out what to do next. Our concrete hearth idea is complicated for newbies, and we’re trying to find a balance between trying to be experts and live with making mistakes. If we continue to be so afraid to actually do anything, we’re never going to get ‘er done!

So, nothing better than a long weekend to get us back on track with our renovation work! We made quite a bit of progress this weekend; we patched the fireplace base and worked to level our floors. Not overly fun tasks, but necessary for the more fun bits!

When I removed the brick on the front of the fireplace, I had to take off some of the tiles in the firebox. It let me see what was beneath the tiles. And it was a mess. 

I had to remove the back row of tiles, so I started with that first. Plus, it was easiest. Using a chisel and hammer, I was able to easily get leverage under the tile and pull them right off.

The concrete medley below the tile was a mess though – cracked, chipped, uneven – so I began hacking away at that as well. 

This took a while. Alex and Gus hung out with me while I worked away.

 When all the big pieces were removed, I had something that looked like this:

I probably could have continued to remove the concrete, but I wasn’t sure what I’d find underneath. Plus, we’re pouring concrete on top, so the unevenness probably doesn’t matter, right?!?

The next step happened a couple of days later. After removing as much of the loose pieces as I could, I had to patch the holes. This would give us a better surface area to work on.

I mixed some self bonding cement and got to work. I mixed it to the consistency of oatmeal, which seemed to be right. This stuff also dries fairly quickly, so I only mixed what I could use in about 15 minutes. Plus, I kept underestimating how much I needed, so that helped ensure it didn’t dry out.

Also: wear gloves.

Then I started filling the holes. I used a triangle trowel and really pushed the stuff in there. 

While I was working on this, Alex went to Lowe’s to buy concrete (we changed our minds about the concrete we bought yesterday…)

Upon his return, I realized that I didn’t have enough self bonding cement to finish the job. So Alex headed back out on his bike to get some more. Sigh.

Once I started to smooth it out, the creaminess of the concrete started to rise to the surface. It made it much easier to smooth everything out. 

And voilĂ !

Here’s a before and after shot:

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