dbgttp

fireplace fix?

dbgttp
6 years ago
Don't want to replace my 1910-ish multicolored, crackled tile but don't know how to handle covering up the exposed cement on the sides of the hearth, and then there is the broken tile at the top, along with the stained (can't get any more of it off) former medallion area on top. Recommendations for tile setters, shops, ironworkers in East Bay of SF area also appreciated.

Comments (38)

  • Brandi Nash Hicks
    6 years ago
    Have an iron worker make you a sour onus for the opening and also make a Rod that would go through those open things across the top with neat finials on the end of the Rod,paint the inside black
  • Brandi Nash Hicks
    6 years ago
    Try cleaning the tiles with soapy water and then maybe use a dark wax on them to blend them all together with the grout
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  • susanmarguerite
    6 years ago
    The tikes are broken on the top opening. Retile with tile of your choice. Since it is a small area, you kind go crazy with marble etc. it won't cost much in materials.
  • PRO
    Interior Affairs -- Vickie Daeley
    6 years ago
    I agree...I would retile with a new chosen tile as this one is dated anyway!
  • Brandi Nash Hicks
    6 years ago
    Doesn't want to replace tile...
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    well thought about re-tiling but house is 1910 and would want tile to correspond with that era. ideas?
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    Brandi, what's a sour onus?
  • Brandi Nash Hicks
    6 years ago
    Ha ha typo,should say iron frame
  • susanmarguerite
    6 years ago
    Google vintage tiles. There are salvage yards. Who knows you might find your yikes and could replace the broken ones. If not there, are tons of vintage tiles that would be in keeping with the prewar look.
  • susanmarguerite
    6 years ago
    Dang autocorrect! Not Yikes. tiles
  • gingybear
    6 years ago
    i used Mr Clean Magic Eraser on my rook wood tiles with great results in removing soot and grime.Dont ditch the tiles just find a centerpiece tile for the broken ones.
  • gingybear
    6 years ago
    The corbels holding up the mantel are not meant to hold a rod.They are a craftsman style corbel .
  • PRO
    Ellsworth Design Build
    6 years ago
    Have an iron worker make an iron frame around the interior of the firebox as earlier mentioned. Match the scale and rivers from the exterior trim. This will cover some of the damaged tile. Then use a filler product to fill in the rest of the damage, hire a faux painter to paint in the damaged area, you will never see it.
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    Thanks for to everyone for taking the time to comment. For the re-tilers I wish the photos could convey how the colors are brighter and the shifting tones and differing crackles more interesting than they appear online.

    groveraxle- thank you so much for the term "summer cover". When googling in the past I have had such trouble finding ironwork because I didn't know that term. I have been in touch with your referrals and a few others.

    I have cleaned up the area where the medallion was and although it is gunk-free, there is still discoloration from, probably, differing sun exposure.

    Ellsworth-Hallett: to clarify, am I understanding that you are suggesting that I do a rectangular frame without medallion to cover and faux paint the discolored tiles where the medallion was?

    gingybear: thanks for your knowledge of craftsman design. What confuses me about my fireplace is that it seems to have, what, a medieval-ish look what with the rivets on the side???? yet the stained glass in the house, as seen from the living room where the fireplace is, is more stereotypically (to me) arts and crafts style (swirly floral and geometric floral).

    So in thinking about designing a new frame and summer cover thinking about medallion or no, medieval-ish craftsman design (whatever that is) or a bit swirlier. Asking a lot but if anyone has ideas/knowledge re appropriate design would appreciate them. Thanks!
  • gingybear
    6 years ago
    Craftsman style drew from many sources,including a touch of nostalgia for medieval simplicity of life.Inglenooks with their fireplaces referenced old England.You can use the rivets further in your choices,but you don't have to.A copper bucket with rivets would carry both the tile colors and the rivet reference.
  • PRO
    Ellsworth Design Build
    6 years ago
    Yes, I guess I didn't understand there was a medallion there. What happened here (savannah GA) often was floor heater were installed in front of the fireplace, and the heater ducted up into the fireplace flue. And trim or tile was smashed out in the name of progress, that what it appeared to be to me. That said, once you put the metal trim back I think you are 90% there. And thank you for keeping the old tile!
  • PRO
    Purewal Contractors, Inc
    6 years ago
    i would add stone slab fire place or retile with an elegant tiles
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    At the risk of wearing out my welcome, comments, even those I may not use, have been so helpful in my thinking about the design that I persist in asking.

    corbels, inglenook fireplaces, craftsman style- thanks for educating me gingybear! googling images of these has been very informative.

    Based on groveraxle's referrals I am communicating with a place in Richmond VA that has proposed a 36"x36" antique copper cover with a huge fleur de lys in the middle and swirlier fleur de lys patterns around it. It basically covers the rows on the sides and above the firebox so certainly covers the flaws, but since it covers so much of the tiles, and is a brighter color than the side ironwork and black/brown mantel, might it detract from the overall look of the fireplace? When envisioning a custom-made frame as proposed my Ellsworth-Hallett I liked her/his idea of the frame being to scale of the ironwork on the sides (and extrapolating to the scale of sides to mantelpiece for the top- which I think would cover the medallion area), so with that stuck in my head I am finding covering up 6 inches of tile on both sides and the top maybe out of scale. Thoughts?
  • PRO
    Sandy G. ltd.
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago
    Kudos for preserving this old character! I would suggest doing as little as possible to rehab this lovely fireplace. To that end, have a foundry / iron worker fashion matching iron outline for the firebox, no wider than the side irons. I realize that the new ironwork might need to be a little wider to get the job done, but it would look more authentic this way. Make it wrap around the edge so that the iron outline extends into the firebox as far as needed to cover any chips, etc. inside. - - this will be seen too.

    Follow the edges of the firebox - including the arch at the mid-top, chipping out what needs to be removed to make the arch centered and equal on both sides. This would pay homage to what was originally there as well as add a nice detail in the lines of the fireplace overall. Certainly add the rivets to this new repair. If the rivets are not able to be duplicated exactly, do it anyway! Close is just fine in this instance.
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    thanks for your comments Purewal and Sandy G, very helpful. After much googling of craftsman fireplace images based on comments and terms I have learned here I am leaning toward a custom made frame with narrow sides and a quarter moon-ish top (see Purewal's second photo). As the firebox is really sooty I think I will add some additional more narrow non-riveted bars in the center with maybe either glass or screening material. Or maybe I will just re-tile the interior (the fireplace is not going to be functional). that's what I'm thinking, for now.

    Sandy G., are you suggesting the tile be chipped out so the frame can be set in vs being attached on the outside? Before I started this discussion when I went to a high quality tile shop and talked with the designer she said a tile setter would not want to remove the cement that was put in to replace the missing grout as there is too much of a risk of chipping/cracking the surrounding tiles. If the frame were to be set in I imagine that risk is even greater. Would it be too out of character to be attached from the outside? Thanks.
  • PRO
    Sandy G. ltd.
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago
    Ok, I don't really understand what you just posted re: attaching from the outside. Seems to me that there would be a higher risk of chipping or cracking tiles if it was secured from the outside. So, probably should be attached [nailed, glued ] on the inside. Sorry - I am not familiar with masonary terms.

    Still pursue an iron "frame" that wraps around the front tile edge and into the firebox. The width of the outside strip should be as wide as it needs to be to conceal the chips and protect from further chipping. It can be wider over the top where the arch is located, so that it ends up covering the arch's wounds. Add the decorative [non-functional] nail heads to the outside strips that are front row center.

    Adding a new "lining" into the firebox might work. Would this lining end up with a 90 degree folded up/out rim or flange that would come out in front of the tiles and cover the edges of the fireplace tiles? Attach the liner inside the firebox. The fit should be snug and good enough to almost sit in there without any "nailing".
  • PRO
    Sandy G. ltd.
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago
    I just found this blog - you might want to check it out. The blogger is a hoot and has done what you are doing [well, sort of]. He might have some tips for you. Go to
    < my-life-as-a-house.blogspot.com/2013_07_01_archive.html >

    Here is a picture of what I was thinking might work for your project. Yours would be custom, of course, but the basic shape is here.
  • bungalowmo
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago
    What you have can be cleaned up. For the 2 broken tiles, maybe this woman here can help with just 2 decorative replacements. She has very beautiful, period-correct designs.

    http://www.houzz.com/pro/fayjonesday/fay-jones-day-tile

    Suggesting replacements is so not the "norm" for me, as I'm usually a purist when it comes to old houses. Ask anyone...it's a passion of mine.

    I sent your post link to her page as well. Don't know you, or her, but it seems the 2 of you might be able to fix this together.
  • Bill Yockey
    6 years ago
    You are so smart in keeping the old tiles. My current house has the tan 1930's bricks and my last one had the multi color brown bricks, not the most attractive, but they are a part of the character of the house.
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    Sandy, Mo and Bill- thanks so much for your helpful comments. Sandy, I got hung up on you saying to chip out the top which is why I got confused on set in vs attached on the outside.
  • PRO
    Sandy G. ltd.
    6 years ago
    Sorry for causing you to be a little confused. Please, please post a pic of the solution you have chosen? I [we] are learning right along with you! Most of us are not masons. . .
  • PRO
    Fay Jones Day Tile
    6 years ago
    Actually I don't thing the tile look that bad. I think it would be possible to just replace those 2 tile.. You might try the http://www.tilerestorationcenter.com
  • delyanks
    6 years ago
    Have you thought about just removing the first row of tile surrounding the firebox and using like a stone or different tile of some sort? That way you can keep the old nostalgia tile but also fix the blemishes.
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    Fay Jones Day tile- clicked through your site and love, love, love your tiles. wish I had a few more fireplaces in my home! glad to know you think my tiles are in good shape.

    if I replace the broken tiles on top I still have the problem of the exposed concrete on the sides and would have to do bullnoses there. Maybe hard to get all the new tile to match with each other and with old ones?
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    Here are some pics that I think have various elements of a frame that could work: proportions between top and sides, rivets, additional ornamental bars.
  • PRO
    Sandy G. ltd.
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago
    Somewhere there is the perfect solution for you. It would be great if you could preserve the arch in the tile in the center top of the firebox - if the frame could follow around the arch, but as far from it as possible to keep as much of it exposed as possible it would be a nice design detail plus preserve that special tile design. The bottom of the frame at that point could go straight across while following the line of the arch on the top edge.
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    So Sandy, you are saying I should have a medallion? Rivets on the sides of the frame, on the top too? Any thoughts about how to ornament the medallion?
  • PRO
    Sandy G. ltd.
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago
    Isn't this hard? Putting into words that accurately describe a small design detail?

    I know how much you want to preserve as much of this tile as possible, and all I am saying is to make the frame follow the outline of the medallion when the top edge of the frame comes to the medallion. The lower edge of the top of the frame can go straight across the top edge of the firebox.

    Do not mess with what you have there. Do not add a medallion or anything but a metal, riveted frame to finish the edges of the firebox. There is a lot going on here - mantle, corbels, tile, and the riveted frame. That's enough.
  • dbgttp
    Original Author
    6 years ago
    Sandy, you are so right, it is hard. Thanks so much for your interest and I will post the fix. Now on to the task of finding the right artisans......
  • PRO
    Sandy G. ltd.
    6 years ago
    Please do post a pix of the fix! This project has been fun to be involved with! It might be a good idea to find an artisan who is part metalworker and part artiste! Your fix is part metalwork and part art! Maybe check into a metal sculptor? I wish you luck with this and good on ya for your preservation attempts for this fireplace surround. It is worth it!
  • PRO
    The Iron Studio
    4 years ago

    I understand wanting to keep the integrity of the original design and era. I would build an iron surround to cover the rough edge of the fireplace opening. (Example picture below - but make yours smaller and proportionate to your fireplace.) Carry the same rivet detail from the edging on your fireplace to the surround tying the pieces together. You could arch the top of the surround to cover and give motion to the fireplace as well as make the opening look larger. Then a simple fireplace door. If you were willing to spend the money you could even have a period repoussé art piece worked into the arch. I would call tile people in for a professional cleaning of the tile and grout. Nothing says it has to look brand new - this is what gives it charm and character.