Well, y’all, I’ve let you down. And I’ve let myself down. I was sure that I’d be able to finish my fireplace this weekend, but try as I might (and believe me…I tried), I just wasn’t able to get it done.
Sometimes I forget what a tedious and time-consuming task it is to do all that wood-filling, sanding, and caulking. And because I hate it so much, the caulking seems to last the longest. Ugh. I seriously hate caulking.
But anyway, here’s what my fireplace looked like last night when I finished working around 9:00pm.
It’s getting there, right!? I got all of the trim added, and wood-fillered (what, exactly, is the correct way to say that?), sanded, caulked. I got the top trim added, and mantel built, the tile grouted, and the trim added to the inside cut edges of the tile.
Okay, so I guess I did get quite a bit done. But I’m still just a tad bit disappointed that it’s not finished.
So let me back up again and show you how I got from this point that I showed you on Friday…
…to where it is now.
I started by adding all of the horizontal trim to the main part of the fireplace. I used 1 x 4’s along the very bottom of the fireplace, and 1 x 3’s on the other two areas, and I mitered them on the corners.
And I used MDF boards instead of solid wood lumber. This was an intentional decision (not based solely on cost), and I’ll show you why in just a bit.
Then I went back and added all of the vertical trim. I used 1 x 2’s for this part.
Next I loaded up my fireplace on a furniture dolly, wheeled it outside, and wood filled the heck out of it, being sure to get lots of wood filler in each crack and nail hole. I’m a very liberal user of wood filler.
While that was drying, I worked on my mantel. I had Home Depot cut two pieces of plywood for me. They were 50.5″ x 18.25″.
Using 1″ x 3″ lumber, I trimmed out the edge of one of the plywood pieces, mitering the lumber on the corners. I attached the lumber with wood glue and 18-gauge 1.5-inch nails in my nail gun.
Then I cut and added several support pieces. I cut these from scrap 2 x 4 lumber, and cut each one to 1.5 inches long.
And then I added the other piece of plywood on top of that (set inside the 1 x 3 lumber around the edges) and nailed it into place.
I forgot to get a picture of the finished mantel, so I’ll try to remember to get that and add it before it gets attached permanently.
By the time I finished the mantel, the wood filler was dry, so I sanded everything down perfectly smoothly using my orbital sander and 100-grit sanding discs.
And this is why I love MDF boards. On projects like this, where you want the finished product to be sanded perfectly smoothly, and you don’t want any joints between boards showing, MDF is a dream to work with. It sands so easily, and so smoothly. It’s always my first choice when I do projects like this where I’m creating a design using the boards, and I don’t want any joints showing on the finished product. Board and batten wainscoting is another example of where I always use MDF boards. I just absolutely hate for joints to show between boards on board and batten wainscoting, so with MDF boards, plenty of wood filler, and a little bit of effort with a sander, I end up with perfectly smooth joints between boards.
With everything sanded, I added a final bit of decorative trim at the top, attaching it with wood glue and 18-gauge finishing nails.
The final messy step I needed to accomplish while the fireplace was still outside was grouting the tiles. I taped off the areas around the tiles with thick painters tape.
And then got busy grouting the tile. I used a pre-mixed grout color called Haystack.
Now when I bought these tiles at Home Depot, I had picked out one of their samples that I absolutely loved — mosaic tiles with various shades of browns and white. I searched and searched for that particular tile and couldn’t find it, so I asked one of the employees and he pointed me to this tile that I used. My mom and I both looked at each other with that look that said, “That is absolutely not the same tile.” But he assured me that the grout would make all the difference, so I decided to trust him.
And he was absolutely right! See how the ungrouted tile on the left side and top still look gray, but the grouted tile on the right side looks brown? I was so relieved to see that!!! I did not want gray tiles on my fireplace, and I’ve been sweating it for a few days now. (I know gray is all the rage right now, but I don’t like it, and it just does not go in my house at all.)
After I got all of the tile grouted and gave it a while to dry, I removed the tape and then I cut some of this corner trim…
…and I added it to the inside cut edges of the tile to give it a finished look. It’ll be painted out black to match the fire box.
So that’s where I left this project last night.
Still on the “to do” list before I can call this project complete:
- prime all of the MDF and trim,
- sand all of the primed MDF and trim,
- paint all of the primed MDF and trim,
- wood fill all of the holes and cracks in the mantel,
- sand the mantel,
- stain the mantel,
- polyurethane the mantel,
- build the hearth.
Yep, I’ve decided that I definitely want a hearth (even though my inspiration fireplace doesn’t have one), and I’ll explain my reasoning for that tomorrow. But for now, I better get busy! I’m so ready to get this thing finished!!!