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Unread 11-24-2019, 11:06 AM   #1
Markhousereno
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1920s house - how would I replace the tiled hearth - mortar bed?

Hello,
We bought a 1920s house and are slowly renovating it when we have time and money. One of the next projects on my to-do list is to update the fireplace surround and hearth. I am happy with how it looks now but lost that argument....

Two of the pics are taken from the basement directly underneath the fireplace and hearth. From measuring, it looks like this reinforced area runs under most of the hearth. There is brick above the wood straps in the pic and I am assuming there is a mortar bed above this.

My question is is there any way to remove and replace the red tile in the hearth without removing and rebuilding a mortar bed, assuming there is one? We will be replacing it more than likely with tile, but possibly a marble/granite slab.

Thanks for any advice or suggestions.

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Unread 11-24-2019, 11:24 AM   #2
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Welcome, Mark.

Interesting fireplace, for sure, with apparently no fire brick in the fire box. And it doesn't appear to have ever seen a wood fire in all its years. Do you anticipate actually using it as a wood burning appliance?

My first question on the hearth replacement would hafta be, "Why would you want something other than a fine mud bed under that hearth if you have room for one?"

But in answer to your question, no way you're gonna know what can be done until you remove the hearth tile and see what's left.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 11-24-2019, 11:44 AM   #3
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If not for the toe stubbing factor I'd be tempted to lay a slab of stone right on toppa that hearth, Mark, size it so that it hangs over the edge of the wood by maybe 1/4". It looks like the resulting gap between the stone and wood would be minimal.

Otherwise, and like cx said, said, you won't know what you have until you start taking it apart. I'd start doing so by starting somewhere in the middle, so to avoid damaging the wood, using a hardened nail punch. You should be able to create enough fractures in one tile to remove pieces of it, thus allowing you to get under the edge of it's neighbors and, if you're lucky, pop them off with a flat pry bar.

Or just go all Neanderthal on it with a spiked club.
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Unread 11-24-2019, 06:55 PM   #4
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It’s been my experience that the mud bed isn’t likely to remain undamaged upon removal of the tile. But packing a new mud bed isn’t very hard. Especially when you can use the existing flooring with something of a ‘notched screed’. It can screed your mud bed below the hardwood surface by exactly the thickness of your new tile (and setting mortar), ensuring that the new tile is flush.

Say the word and we’ll talk you through the process

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Unread 11-24-2019, 07:04 PM   #5
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Another vote for a mud bed. I'd try to remove the grout around a tile and them pry up on it. The tiles were likely beat into a wet mud bed. Some jobs bonded real well, others so so.
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Unread 11-27-2019, 08:24 AM   #6
Markhousereno
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Thanks everybody for the responses - very much appreciated. We are still vin the planning/procrastination stage so great to get input at this point.

I suppose I was hoping (ha! dreaming) that I could pop up the old tiles and just lay new ones ..... but knew that it would likely leading to a new mortar bed. I will start by popping a few tiles as you suggested to see how it goes and maybe I will be lucky.

The whole project, is complicated by having very young kids scampering about so I can't go all hulk in there - have to clean it like a crime scene.

I have done some tile work but it has always been on either new cement board or replacing old tile where i was able to get down fairly easily to a clean subfloor. I have never done a mortar bed and it might be above my skill level, but I am willing to give it a shot and will read up on what I can find on this site first.

To answer some of your questions/comments...

- We are still not sure what we will end up with - wood burning or add a gas insert. We had a local reputable chimney guy in and he said the chimney was in great shape and that we could go ahead and light a fire. Obviously would add lining etc for gas. Either way the red tile ultimately has to go so thought that I should tackle that first, even if we go with gas?

- It is interesting how clean it is, and the chimney for that matter, given that it is 100 years old.

-Yes, my first thought too was to just drop a slab or marble or granite on there and call it a day, but the toe stub factor vetoed that.
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Unread 11-27-2019, 08:28 AM   #7
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if you are going to install an insert or liner, I would do that before you put in a new hearth.
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Unread 11-27-2019, 07:54 PM   #8
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Every house is not built the same, but the hearth in our 1940 colonial looks identical to your picture. My hearth was made of brick, and when I demolished it and removed the brick I found a thick mortar bed under it.

The mortar was pretty rough from the demo, so we sealed/taped the area around it and poured self-leveling concrete (LDC) to make a nice level surface for the recess in the floor. We then ordered a large cut stone (black granite) to fit the recess and had it installed. I don't recall the exact thickness of the stone, but we leveled with the SLC so that the stone would stick up about 1/4" above the wood floor, which was similar to how much the brick had projected.

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Unread 11-28-2019, 12:25 PM   #9
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Mark, like Bubba said, the mud bed would be easy to replace on that hearth. First, go buy the tiles you want to use. If you go to Home Depot or Lowes, find a nice straight 1x3 or 1x4 board and cut it about 3 inches longer than your hearth is long. I'd guess your hearth is about 54 inches long, if it is then cut the board about 57 inches. Then, measure the thickness of your tiles, lets say 3/8 thick. Add 1/16 for thinset and cut a notch on each end of the board 7/16 deep and about 2 inches long. That's if you're using small tiles 4x4 or smaller. If you're using larger tiles then make the notches 1/2 inch deep. This is what a lot of installers call a cheat stick. You can do a search and find a picture. The notched area of the board should drop down into the hearth area between the hardwood on each end.

Use this board to screed the deck mud to the right thickness by letting the notch ride on the hardwood as you pull and screed the mud. It will leave just enough room for thinset and tile. To do this with deck mud (dry pack mud) you'll need the mud to be 1/2 inch thick or more. So, if the mud comes loose when removing the old tiles, it's no problem, in fact it's even better for you. Floor and Décor has Mapei's 4 to 1 deck mud, you can use that if you have a F and D handy. I would use masking tape to cover the edge of the hardwood, that'll keep you from scratching the finish.

If the old tiles come up without the mud,only leaving you with 1/2 inch of space, then it may be best to try and smooth out the old mud and stick directly to that. I would get it torn out and then come back with a picture of what you have, then we can help you get it ready for tile.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 07:00 AM   #10
Markhousereno
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Thank you for all of the responses and especially the advice around how to do a mud bed.....sounds like some time practicing in the kids sand box might pay off.

The work got delayed....like most of my projects unfortunately ....tough with little kids running around.

My plans (instructions!!) for the fireplace surround have now changed, and I have a few questions around those but I will start another thread as they are slightly different.

Thanks again
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Unread 03-05-2020, 07:28 AM   #11
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How do I install cement tiles detail on a brick fireplace

Hello,
We have a 1920s brick fireplace and I would like to install just 4 concrete tiles as a design detail in the pre-existing 'insert'.

It is hard to see from the photo but what I have circled is just over 1/2 inch deep, and is just the right width and height for 8 inch square tiles - 4 in a row. I suppose it is similar to doing a backsplash other than it is on a fireplace.

My wife has picked out 8x8 1/2 inch deep cement tiles for this insert and I have some questions as I have never installed cement tiles before. I contacted the tile manufacturer but they were not very helpful.

- What should I use to install the tiles? I have some flexbond crack prevention thin-set left over from a 1/2 bathroom. Would this work or do I need something stronger, like mortar? https://www.custombuildingproducts.c.../flexbond.aspx

- I should say that the fireplace has not been used in at least 5 years but that could change of course. Does that change the thinset/mortar that I should use?

- What size notched trowel should i use? I thought 1/4 inch square notch would be good for 8 inch but was wondering if I need to go bigger given that they are 1/2 inch cement, so are a bit heavier than ceramic.

- From everything that I read, it says that cement tiles are easy to stain so they should be sealed before grouting. Given that I only have 4 tiles, is there any downside to sealing in advance of install - would prevent any staining if I get sloppy with the thinset/mortar.

Is there anything else that i am missing?

Thanks for any suggestions


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Unread 03-05-2020, 09:35 AM   #12
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Best to keep all your project questions on one thread so folks can see what you're working on and what's been previously asked and answered. A moderator can give it a more generic title any time you'd like to suggest one.

If that bathroom project was completed more than a couple weeks ago you should discard the Flexbond you have opened and get a new bag for this project. But that Flexbond would certainly work for your current application. You could also use Versabond from the same source and save some dinero.

That area is not likely to get hot enough to require any special consideration, so all you need to do is ensure the inset brickwork is sufficiently clean and flat to accommodate your new tiles. While the temperature changes in that area will be substantial in wood-burning use, the tiled area is small enough that I don't think the associated movement is going to be a deal breaker. See my warranty information below.

Depending upon the finish on those encaustic tiles, I'd likely want to seal them before installation or at least use a grout release before grouting.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 10:16 AM   #13
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Mark ... the concrete tiles ... are you proposing to install them on top of the existing brick, or inset so they are flush with the face of the brick?
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Unread 03-05-2020, 10:53 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark
...what I have circled is just over 1/2 inch deep, and is just the right width and height for 8 inch square tiles...
I think he plans both, Ed.
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Unread 03-05-2020, 10:55 AM   #15
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Please keep procrastinating to the point that you leave this fine fireplace exactly the way it is. It is quite beautiful. your proposed insert tiles would cover the best detailing of the original work. my 2 cents....
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