Did you have an enchanting Labor Day weekend? We enjoyed a nice little holiday up to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. It was most excellent to have a break from working on the house.
We did all our hard laboring the previous weekend. With the completion of paint, I was all riled up to start flooring. But Aaron
buzz killed reminded me that we needed to decide on a hearth before we laid flooring.
The previous hearth was tile. And not just tile, but tile that had the pattern of dirt on it. I wasn’t too keen on having tile again. #PermaDirt
We kept tossing back and forth the idea of doing the same tile as whatever we decided on for the backsplash. But I didn’t want it to be too matchy matchy. I told Aaron he could 100% decide. And then I immediately regretted it when he said “Red brick.” He knew I was really hesitant, and said we could white wash them if I wanted. However, I didn’t really want to. I know every other blogger is all about painting and white washing brick these days… which is kind of why I didn’t want to. I just needed to trust him on this. A task much easier said than done.
We have a really great friend who is a brick mason who volunteered his time to help us with this project. The total cost of this was less than $60, and we way over estimated the amount of brick needed. We needed bricks, mortar, and wire meshing (lath).
The bricks were $0.42 in the store, the mortar was about $5 a bag, and the lath was about $7.
We used 1.5 bags of mortar for our hearth.
I was really bummed they wouldn’t let me help… but you know, 5 months pregnant and everyone feels like they can boss you around. Apparently there is only one type of “brick laying” I should be doing, and that should be happening in the bathroom… so…
The first thing they did after telling me I couldn’t help, was nail the lath to the subfloor where the brick would be laid. We put a layer of the same underlayment we would be using for the rest of the flooring under the lath as a moisture barrier and extra layer of protection. It’s not necessary, but recommended.
Then they mixed the mortar in a bucket. Joel had a fancy beater, but if you didn’t have one, I’m sure the old “shovel in a wheel barrow” method would translate.
There is no exact ratio of water to mortar mix. It should be thick, but wet enough that it sticks to the brick. It’s hard to explain what exactly that is until you start working with it. But you’ll know if you need to add a little more water, or a little more mix. Just think of it as cement frosting. It’s always easier to start with much less milk… otherwise you’ll be adding powdered sugar til the end of time. (Which is usually what happens in this house)
We used a spare piece of plywood as a trough. Anything you want to dump the mortar on will do. Use a trowel to spread a thin layer of mortar across the lath.
After this step, it was go-time for laying the brick. It’s definitely more of a craft than you would expect. We were so glad to have Joel here to help. He was able to teach Aaron and I some tricks of the trade that we wouldn’t have known. There were a couple bricks that needed to be cut. Like a tile cutter, you can rent a brick cutter at the home improvement store. Luckily Joel brought one along.
You mortar the sides of the brick that you are sticking to something, and level as you go. It’s a lot of squishing and wiggling it around to get it to fit. Much like getting into a pair of skinny jeans after the holidays.
And Indy just sat upon my lap while I watched.
They worked from the outside to the middle.
We told Joel that we were thinking about white-washing the brick. He said we could get a more authentic look if we were a little “messier” with the mortar. It would give it a worn 100-year-old brick wall look. Perfect. The more I thought about it, the more I loved it.
The last step Joel did was use a little tool to even out the mortar between each brick. And smile, of course.
I was extraordinarily pleased when it was done. I surprisingly LOVED it. It has just the right amount of rustic touch. And we decided to leave it as it. NO PAINTING!
It takes a full week for the mortar to dry and the color to be what it will actually look like. A week later, this is where we’re at. (AND you get a bonus taste of the flooring )
I obviously need to clean the inside of the insert… since you know, it hasn’t been cleaned since BEFORE we did a crap ton of dry walling up in this business.
And when Buster saw the camera out, he wanted to be in on the action. He put on his best Tyra face.
And for the sake of enjoying a good before/after shot… I give you:
Let’s review the list:
-Build new fence (in progress!)
-Install flooring (in progress!)
-Baseboards + board & batten
-**newly added to the list** build new banister
Counter top install (done but you haven’t seen it yet, unless you creep on Instagram)