It’s the end of October and we’ve already had a few fires this year, and many more ahead. With my oldest, Peter, going off to college next year I am trying not to get all sentimental on Sunday afternoons, but oh do I love having everyone home watching football or a movie, our three and often their friends sprawled out on the floor and couch in front of the fire in our little family room. I LOVE IT.
A fire makes the house feel so cozy, and now that we did the fireplace over we are always in this room in the cold weather. The herringbone tiles are my favorite when they glimmer and dance in the firelight.
After tiling the hearth and surround and painting all the new moulding, it was time to clean up the old firebox and I thought I’d share with you a couple thoughts about this project.
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ONE | Clean the firebox thoroughly. Remove grate. Remove ash with a fireplace shovel and broom. Scrape any ash on the walls of the firebox, vacuum and then use damp old rags to wipe down the interior of the box.
TWO | Use high heat paint in a flat finish. It can withstand temperatures up to 1200 degrees farenheit. I like to use a cheap nylon bristle paint brush that I can toss when done with the oil paint.
THREE | If you actually use your fireplace like we do, don’t paint where the flames come in direct contact with the firebox. The back of our fireplace was black from fires already, so I painted up to that area. I did not paint the backplate or grate, just the firebrick on the firebox walls. While the high heat paint could physically withstand the heat, I wanted to reduce the risk of the toxins released into the air.
Painting the interior black definitely freshes it up, but with a wood burning fireplace you have to accept that the floor of the firebox is going to get and stay sooty for the season. I clean the ashes out after every second or third fire but the soot remains all fall and winter.
I’ve had a few questions about what I used on the inside edge of the fireplace box that is white. It’s paint!
Originally I tiled the two interior brick sides that meet the marble surround, but they didn’t look right, so I removed the tiles and scraped off the mortar. Eventually I just painted these two edges with regular trim paint, thinking that I’d have to find a long-term solution as the paint would surely yellow from smoke, but actually it is still looking quite white and clean. I like how the paint doesn’t really call any attention to itself, and since it’s not in contact with the heat I’m not worried about it burning off toxins.
Another side note for those of you with wood burning fireplaces – our fireplace grate. It’s amazing! When we first moved in here we had a terrible problem with smoke coming into the room, despite have the chimney cleaned. The front of the fireplace would get covered in smoke stains by winter’s end.
Mark did some research and found a fireplace grate called the Grate Wall Of Fire.
It supposedly eliminated smoke coming into a room by guiding the smoke towards the chimney. Mark read tons of reviews and decided to try it, along with a steel backplate that makes a fire burn more efficiently and throws more heat. The two pieces together were kind of a pricey endeavor and I must admit I was skeptical about this purchase.
Well, long story short, we love them. We almost never have a smoke issue in the room, and we burn less wood. Mark should be a Grate Wall Of Fire salesman in his free time because he tells everyone about it :). Since we bought ours, our neighbor bought a set for himself AND his parents, and our family members all bought the Grate Wall Of Fire too!
I’ve been looking for a fireplace screen that won’t cover up my pretty tile but it’s proving really difficult to find one that’s just right, so we might have to go the custom route. I’ll keep you posted on that search. Also, would you hate me if I paint over those blue bookcase backs? I think I’m over them. Already. 🙂
Hope you’re having a great week, friends!
If you’re looking for the scoop on the fireplace remodel, check out these posts:
Tiling The Surround and Tiling The Hearth
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