Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Putting Back the Fireplace Panels

Here is the fireplace in the master bedroom before the inspection prompted some needed repairs. 

The repairs required that the paneling over the hearth be removed. Here are Edward and Andy cutting access holes in order to complete a few brick replacements inside the chimney.

Mike installed some two by fours lengthwise (you can see the middle one in this photo), so that he could hang the cement board. 

The cement board was used because the panels were to be re-plastered with a two-coat surface plaster system. The cement board adds more stiffness to the panels than typical wallboard would, and was an extra precaution because it is more resistant to heat.

Preceding the plaster application was a surface binder to ensure adherence of the plaster.

The first coat of the plaster results in a sandy, coarse texture.

Here is Nate applying the second coat of the plaster, which results in a very smooth classic plaster finish. 

This same process was replicated in the other bedroom where the panel had also been removed for chimney repairs. 

Here is Darryn applying the surface binder.

This mantle needed to be replaced as it was rotten from a roof leak that went untreated for a long time. After the casing around the fireplace is replaced, the last step is to parge the outer edge of the fireplace with mortar to finish. 

Our mason Edward told Mike an interesting story about that mortar along the face of the fireplaces. It is thought that the mortar was most often painted black in the 1860s in reverence for Abraham Lincoln after his assassination. So we'll think about whether to continue that tradition...


  1. What an interesting story Catherine! Everything is coming along nicely, the fireplaces will be so nice when you get them finished. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished floors too! Thanks for sharing:)

  2. oH my!!! I am loving all of your posts and details!!! How refreshing to see your thoughtful process and attitude. Well done. I am so pleased you are blogging your experiences. Thank you, Tina

  3. Just the mortar was painted black and not the entire brick? Interesting!! It will be nice to know that you can safely have fires in your beautiful 'new' home!

  4. This is all so interesting and being an old house lover, it is all wonderful to me :)
    (I think the black mortar and red brick would be a lovely combination.

  5. I'm really amazed at how much work goes into something like this. I never would have guessed. You guys are doing everything the right way and it's going to be beautiful. Linda R (Phila burbs)

  6. It's wonderful to see progress is it not?

    I am anxious to see it all finished, lived in, and furnished with all the finds you have been gathering together for your new old home.

    Beautiful weeks ahead of you.


  7. This is same Nate and Darryn woodworking artisans who finessed your stairwell, and now they're upstairs doing the lost art of plaster? What CAN'T they do! Edward in his beret has captured my heart!


  8. It's beautiful Catherine. I enjoyed reading your post so much, I'm going to read it again!

  9. The finish work is pure art.



Thank you for leaving your thoughts. Kind regards, Catherine

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