Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to: Create a "Brick" Chimney

One of the biggest headaches in our kitchen was an ugly concrete block chimney.

Previously the chimney was hidden behind the floor-to-ceiling cabinets which housed the wall oven. This meant that the cabinets stuck an additional foot into our already cramped kitchen. When we started our kitchen renovation, we actually toyed with removing the chimney entirely but this would have required a new furnace and patching the roof - neither of which we were too keen on undertaking at that point in time. Besides we saw the opportunity to use the chimney as a character piece.  


We worked the chimney into the cabinet layout and then clad it in a brick veneer from IXL Brick. Now its look like we had been fortunate enough to uncover a gorgeous red brick chimney!

The same chimney passes up through the office on the second floor. Originally it was hidden in drywall but again we thought there was opportunity to make it a feature of the room and use it to frame a built-in desk.

Although it is not a difficult project, it does take a lot of time and patience.

  • Brick veneer
  • Plywood 
  • Dimensional lumber
  • Clamps
  • Tile saw
  • Construction adhesive 
  • Tile spacers
  • Masonry 
  • Brick sealer

Step 1: Preparation

Since we wanted to avoid cut bricks, we determined the dimensions we needed to fit full bricks on the front and sides. Luckily it was actually pretty close to the dimensions of the chimney but it did need to be 3" wider. 

We used four 2x4s to make up the 3", two on each side, which we applied to the concrete block using construction adhesive. We used concrete screws and clamps to hold the 2x4s in place until the adhesive set.

Then we covered the entire chimney in plywood so that we would have a flat, square base to work off of. We screwed to the plywood to the lumber and glued it to the block.

Step 2: Applying the Brick

We chose to apply the bricks using construction adhesive instead of a masonry mortar because it was cleaner and faster - although very smelly! We used LePage PL 400.

Beginning at the floor, we began to apply the bricks, using stacks of plastic tile spacers to achieve the space we wanted between the bricks. We only did a handful of rows at a time to give the construction adhesive time to set in between.

When ever a tile needed to be trimmed to fit flush against the wall, we used our tile saw to cut it down to size.

It took a full week to glue all of the bricks in place but it was worth the wait to ensure that none of the bricks slide out of line.

Step 3: Grouting the Brick

Once all of the adhesive had set, we grouted the bricks with a grey masonry grout. Follow the instructions on the bag of mortar to mix it with water. Mix with a trowel until the mortar is the consistency of peanut butter.

Most people recommend using a baker's bag to apply the mortar and we used this method successfully in the kitchen but for the office we simply used a trowel to fill the gaps between the bricks. 

Allow the mortar to dry completely and then use a masonry jointer and wire brush to remove any excess mortar and recess the joints.

Use a damp sponge to remove any dust and haze from the bricks. Be careful not to scrub the grout too hard.

Step 4: Sealing the Brick

To complete the project we sealed the brick and grout.This step is not critical but we didn't want to be scrubbing food stains out of the brick in the kitchen and figured we should do the same in the office for good measure. We chose to use TileLab SurfaceGard because it had a matte finish so the bricks would not end up shiney.


Carpet Approval


Quite tempting to join them on the floor...


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Progress - Day 163

After working so hard to meet the carpet deadline, Dave and I completely lost steam (plus we were both obviously fighting off a bug) so this has been a slow week. We still managed to cross a couple small items off the list.

Hallway lights.

Carpet runner.

Master bedroom closet shelves.

By coincidence, the carpet installer happened to also be a tiler and when he saw the bathroom tile spread across the second floor he was willing to give us some advice on how to deal with our sloping floors. So now we are working on defying gravity and installing the wall tile from the top down. It will probably take twice as long to install all of the tile but it will guarantee the top chair rail will be straight.

Once the bathroom is back together we will be ready to move back home!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Colour Inspiration

I have become addicted to browsing the fantastic colour palettes at Design Seeds


Friday, March 25, 2011

More Incentives

In addition to the federal government's ecoENERGY Retrofit Program, the Alberta government is also offering incentives for energy efficient home improvements.

Currently the provincial government is offering a $400 rebate to anyone who purchases and installs an Energy Star qualified furnace with an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of 92% or better and $500 for an Energy Star qualified furnace with an AFUE of 92% or better and a DC variable-speed motor.

Since our new furnace falls into the second category, we qualify for a $500 provincial rebate in addition to the estimated $650 rebate from the ecoENERGY program.

Head over to Climate Change Central for more information on home improvement incentives.


PS - This week the government announced that it will be extending the ecoEnergy Retrofit Program!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Progress - Day 155

It was a long exhausting weekend in order to get everything done before the carpet installers come tomorrow. But after countless late nights, every thing has been touched-up, repainted, scrubbed and polished.

Except for the main floor and bathroom...


Friday, March 18, 2011

Refinishing the Clawfoot Tub II

Our tub is being refinished this week and the shop was nice enough to take pictures documenting the process!

First they removed the original finish and the previous failed spray coating by using a industrial chemical paint stripper.

Next they used a corrosive acid etch so the new coatings will adhere.

After the tub is etched, they sanded it one more time and applied a primer.

After the primer, the new enamel is sprayed on and baked for 48 hours. The tub is being baked as we speak!

After the new enamel is cured, they will sand and polish one more time before adding a final clear protective top coat. We are hoping to go see the tub tomorrow before they put the top coat on.

Stay tuned for the reveal of our shiney new tub!

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