On Sunday we (mostly) successfully poured our concrete hearth. It was quite the feat – both in mind and body. Here’s what it looked like when all was said and done:
The concrete dried a nice light grey colour and was exactly what we were hoping it would.
After 2 days of drying, we removed the mold. First, by unscrewing the screws that were holding it together. We had placed tape over the holes, which proved extremely useful. Had they filled with concrete, I’m not sure what we would have done…
The only annoying part was that some of the melamine had peeled away from the form and was stuck to the concrete. But that’s a problem for later.
The edge, which we were most scared about seeing, was actually quite nice. We really like the little holes (which you can fill with putty, but we didn’t want to) because it gives a natural look and makes it clear that it’s concrete.
Once removed, we had a flat, level and mostly smooth hearth. Good job, us!
We spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to fix the two small areas that didn’t trowel properly.
I decided to take a piece of sandpaper and see if that would help. And it did! So I started sanding it smooth and also sanded the rest of the hearth to remove any streaks or stains.
After sanding, the crumbly part looked a lot better – not perfect, but better.
Once the entire hearth had been sanded, I had to deal with the melamine issue.
Removing the melamine bits was really unfun. They were just stuck, they were embedded in the concrete. I’m not sure how this could have been prevented, but we saw some videos where people applied oil (regular olive oil) to the melamine first to prevent sticking. This method likely would have helped us here.
I also sanded down the top edge to minimize the sharpness (and avoid any chance of breaking or chipping). It was relatively easy; I simply sanded on a 45 degree angle, which created a subtle bevel.
After all the sanding and melamine removal was done, I cleaned the entire surface to remove any dust or debris. Then it was time to seal this sucker!
We were really unsure of what product to apply to the hearth. We thought we might need a special sealer (for countertops) but Home Hardware sold us a generic sealer, good for both indoor and outdoor use. We got the matte option because we don’t want it to be too shiny.
The sealer was a super liquidy, milky substance. We poured some into a paint tray and went to work.
First, we taped the brick with painter’s tape to prevent any sealer from going on the brick.
Then, we applied the sealer with a foam roller.
We let the sealer dry and then applied a second coat.
This is what the final product looked like: