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Fireplace Makeover: Tutorial for a Cost-Effective Update

My friend was renovating her living room and called me to step in and help her! I love it when friends ask for my help with their projects. Working with friends is so much more fun than working alone. So when she asked me to help her with her fireplace makeover, I jumped at the chance. The thing I always want you to remember is that you can completely change the entire look of a space with just cosmetic upgrades and without spending a fortune! That is exactly what we did here. Follow along and you can do this to your space too!

Fireplace Makeover Step 1: Remove existing mantle

To start, we removed the existing mantle and surround. Removing it is really not that difficult. Its usually held on with a few nails or screws. Sometimes it may be glued on. We were planning to reuse it, so we took it off carefully.

Step 2: Prep primer and paint the tile

As always, when you are painting something you have to prep it. And painting tile is no different. The goal is to get the paint to STICK, and stay on the tile. We do not want it to peel off! The 2 things you can do to increase your chances of it staying, is to SAND and PRIME! So we took a sander to the tile and sand it down. Sanding scuffs the surface, creating a rough surface for the primer to hold on to. Then we prime it so that the paint has something to stick to.

We used a spray paint primer. Because its a spray, we used THIS tape and plastic in one to cover the walls and floors around the tile.

Then we painted it using THIS paint. And by we, I mean she painted while I was gone. haha!

Step 3: Build the mantle for your fireplace makeover.

We are reusing the fireplace surround, but not the mantle. So we had to make a new one. To do that, I got THIS wood and ripped it down on my table saw. Some lumber stores will cut it for you, so check your local store. I cut 2 pieces that were 8 inches by 5 feet. one piece that was 5 inches by 5 feet and 2 that were 8in x 5in.

I then used my nail gun and nailed them together to look like a box with one side open. See the video. The open side will be going against the wall. Then we wood filled all the spots where 2 pieces of wood met, and all nail holes. Then sand the whole thing down. We were staining the mantle, so we first applied a wood conditioner (thats like a primer for stain), then stained it.

Step 4: Update the surround

Like I said a moment ago, we were planning on reusing the fireplace surround. All the decorative pieces were just glued or nailed on, so they were fairly simple to remove. We removed everything we did not want, than wood filled everything. Once that was dry, we sanded it down, cleaned it off, and primed it. We used THIS primer. I always like to sand my item after the first coat of primer. The wood grain likes to show through and the primer leaves a texture. So once the first coat of primer was dry we sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper, then applied a second coat of primer.

We then painted it white and it was ready to install.

Step 5: Install the mantle and surround

Start by installing the surround. There are many ways you can install it, but we decided on this way. We took some scrap pieces of 2×2 and screwed them into the studs behind where the surround will go. We then secured the surround to those scrap pieces with screws. It held up really well.

You then need to install the mantle. We used French Cleats for the mantle. Basically you screw one half on the mantle and the other on the wall. Then they simply slip together. This holds it up really well and is a very secure way to hand the mantle. It is super important that you get it plumb and level. You may need to use shims to raise it where ever it needs. We just used scrap wood as shims and we got it perfectly level.

Then finally to finish it up, we added a thin piece of trim piece under the mantle where we put all the shims to close off the gap and make it look perfect!

Step 6: Ship Lap to complete your fireplace makeover.

The final step to this project is to add the ship lap accent above the fireplace. We started by hanging 2 pieces of trim on either side of the fireplace to give the ship lap a nice, clean, ending spot. We made sure they were level then nailed them into the wall with my nail gun.

We then installed the ship lap up the wall. Remember, offset your seams. Put nails in the lip of the ship lap. And measure twice and cut once!

Wood fill all your holes, and paint the wall! If you are adding any decorations, go ahead and do that now and then stand back and admire the work you just accomplished! Your fireplace makeover looks great!!

Did you do a fireplace makeover? I would love to see what you did! Send it to me in the comments!

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