DIY Fireplace Makeover

Was my fireplace okay? Yes. Was it the exact style I was wanting? No. My style has evolved over the years and the great thing about DIY is that you can change your house as your style changes. I decided to redo my fireplace & mantel and I love it! Follow along to see how you can do this too.

List of Supplies:

Step one: Demo!

First things first, I had to demo the existing mantel and tile. I used a mallet and crowbar to remove the mantel. The mantel came off easily enough but that tile was sure stubborn! It started ripping off the drywall so I decided it would just be easier to use my multi-tool and take off the drywall.

One fun thing about my house is when they built our home, they did not put drywall primer on. Whenever I take anything off the walls, the paint just peels right off. Learn from this and use drywall primer on your walls! I spent a lot of time just scraping off all the peeling paint. I used a razor blade scraping tool to take the paint off the walls.

Step two: Fix the wall

I decided it was the worth the money and time that I would save to just hire someone to replace the drywall around the fireplace. Luckily we have a friend who does drywall and so it was very affordable. If you don’t have the option of hiring it out, you can definitely just replace the drywall and use mud and tape to make it look nice. I didn’t want to have to worry about getting it perfect and for the amount of time it would take me to do it, hiring it out was definitely worth it to me.

I did not need to replace it with cement board because that is only needed if it is wood burning. Zero clearance fireplaces like mine don’t need cement board because it is a pre-manufactured fireplace with thicker insulation that fits into the walls of the home. So it requires zero clearance to combustible materials.

Step three: Sand, prime, and roman clay

I took a sanding block and just lightly sanded the area. I used a microfiber cloth to get rid of any loose dust. Then I started priming. Most people would use a bigger roller to prime this area but I just used this small one. I love it because it’s foam and I can just dip it into the paint.

The style of fireplace that I’m going for is a Roman Clay fireplace surround with a natural wood mantel. It really looks so good and matches the style of my home. I got my Roman Clay from Portola Paints. It’s the Sasha color lightened by 25%. I applied it to the wall using a 6″ putty knife. It works best if you apply it all in one sitting. That’s not so easy to do when you’re busy with little ones. But the first coat always looks a little splotchy and that’s okay! After it dried, I just lightly sanded down the rough edges.

I applied the second coat and LOVED the way it turned out. I let it dry, sanded down any rough spots, and applied my third and final coat. It looked so good and I wasn’t even finished yet!

Before I put the third coat on, I decided that I should figure out the TV and cord situation. I didn’t want cords showing. If you don’t need to do this, skip to the next step in the fireplace makeover. I decided that I’m going to hide the cords in the mantel. Don’t be like me and figure this out at this step. I had to move the outlet down so that it would be hidden in the mantel. I did a quick YouTube tutorial and moved it myself. It’s actually not that hard and saves a lot of money if you can do it yourself. But hiring an electrician is always an option too! First step is to shut the power off!! I had to cut into my drywall again to move the outlet down. I pushed the outlet box down, and the cords, and then brought it through the new hole. I tried forever to figure out how I could secure the same box. Then I realized that I had to get a new box and detach all the wires. I got a new box that snugs up to the drywall by tightening the screws. Then just match the wires, black to black, white to white, and ground to ground (green). The video is long but it shows how I did this.

After moving the outlet, I needed to repair the drywall holes. You can get small pieces of drywall for holes like this. Just cut it down to size and screw it into the studs. After it’s screwed in, just use some sticky mesh tape on the edges and joint compound on top of that. This makes me realize why I hired someone to do the other drywall holes. Luckily, this will all be covered up with the Roman Clay.

There’s also one cord that needed to go from the TV to the new box that I’m installing in mantel. I didn’t want it to show so I drilled two holes in the drywall and fished the cord through there. You can see how I did it in this video.

Step four: Build the mantel

I cut my boards all down to the size I wanted for my mantel. I was going to miter and bevel all of the edges, but because of the way I’m doing the hinge to hide the cords, it just didn’t make sense. Hiding cords was of greater importance to me than seamless edges.

I used wood glue and my nail gun to build the mantel. I also used my pocket hole jig to attach the pieces together and made it so that the front could hinge to get to the cords if needed.

If you want to do this the right way, you should use clamps. I used my pocket hole jig to attach the pieces together. Watch how I did this in the video below. After I put it all together, I realized that I couldn’t screw the hinges in. So I took it apart, added hinges, and put it back together again. I used my nail gun to attach the top piece. I opted for soft close hinges!

After you have everything attached correctly, you can sand down the mantel and stain it your color of choice. I went with a stain combination of Early American, Whitewash, and Weathered Wood. Everything I use is water based for easy clean up and less smell (wood conditioner, stain, and poly). Make sure to use the wood conditioner before you stain. It conditions the wood so the stain takes better and is less blotchy. After you finish the top coat, it is time to hang the mantel!

Step five: Attach the mantel

I used French cleats to attach the mantel to the wall. This is pretty easy to do. I linked the French cleats up above.

Step six: Enjoy the new fireplace and mantel!

I’m so happy with how this fireplace makeover turned out. It looks just like I was envisioning! And as an added bonus, I even got it done in time for Christmas! Now my family can sit back and enjoy Christmas all while looking at our beautifully redone fireplace and mantel! Follow along on instagram for more DIY home projects @spetrichhome

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