Renovations, Stories & Finds

Re-pointing a fireplace

Remember when…


…this room wasn’t a furious ball of dust?

Sigh. Those were the good old days. Never mind the damp taking out the paint in the far corner near the baseboard or the spots of moisture coming through the wall next to the radiator from what we didn’t know at the time was an improperly sealed inglebook-ish fireplace. With blown out white levels…any room looks habitable. You can’t even smell the dog hair carpet from this safe distance of retrospect.



Fast forward to now: where there is so much brick dust in the air even the cobwebs are choking.

It’s all because of this:


The giant fireplace we found behind the radiator back in October. This photo is from Halloween (October 31st), which jumps the gun a bit. This is a chronologically ordered retrospective of the reinstallation of the giant fireplace. As such we should probably start here:

October 21: Uncovering the Hearth

There is something big behind this wall.


October 25: Plaster Magically Falls Off the Lintel

Really big.


From here, check out Uncovering an Inglenook on the process it took to dig the damn thing out from under all the back fill of the old cooker range we sadly couldn’t re-instate. As this post is more about the re-pointing, let’s jump forward via the magic of television:

November 11: Rubble & Plaster is Clear

Giant pipes and holes throughout the sides, but at least the fill from the old cooker has been removed. I really fought off the OCD urge to mop the quarry tile floor spotless again.



November 21: Routing Out the Old Mortar

Insert the professionals. They were working on it intermittently as well as replacing the drains outside, so the process was slow until the upcoming weeks when they were able to devote 24/7 (well…8/5) to it exclusively. See that big channel dug out of the bricks along the right side? I have no idea, but pay attention to it coming up here.

December 2: Testing Out The Brick Acid

Also look at that sexy back wall there. It’s melting, or about as close as bricks come to doing so.


December 7: Acid Washed, Scrubbed and Rebuild Starting

Observe the annoying channel on the right is gone. Yay! They used temporary mortar on some spots to hold things off the floor together.

December 9: Rebuilding the Interior

The bricks on the back wall were super damaged. Here they have been replaced. The back still needs scrubbed…maybe. I mean, what’s the point really if we’re just lighting up inside of it again anyway?


December 16: Re-pinned

It’s still an on going process, but here the facade is repinned…with lime mortar. Because I love nothing more than making my contractor hate me. Where is all of this rubble coming from? It was literally all cleaned out 7 days ago. The crooked bricks aren’t as bad above the lintel anymore. Lots has been done to the damaged bricks, cracked bricks, and giant holes where bricks went missing in favor of piping for the various fireplaces over the years. We’ll be adding a metal support to the arch just to be on the safe side.

Since bringing in the pros it has cost about £700 in man hours (£60 a day @ 12-ish days) to this point…just for this project.

Is it worth it?

I couldn’t tell you yet.

We’ll see when the entire room is finished and the realtor comes back through and goes “holy crap, you guys… my initial estimate of a £100k increase in property value was basically based on painting a few rooms and replacing the cabinets. Restoring original features we didn’t even know existed? Have an extra £50k to your valuation.” To which I will say (even though we aren’t selling it) “yes, it was definitely worth it.”

However, if the room doesn’t make you wet yourself when you walk through the door I would tell you to save your money, especially if you would be living amongst the chaos during the time it was going on.

However, a fireplace you could cook a pig on isn’t really something to go unnoticed.

When the dust settles and the cobwebs cleared it will have been worth it, I am sure.