If you have been lucky enough to move into an older style property and found an old boarded up fireplace opening, you may be wondering what you have let yourself in for. Finding one of these old fireplaces with all of the hearth and surround intact is like a dream come true. All it takes is a little cleaning up and painting and you are ready to go. But if you are presented with nothing more than a gaping hole in your wall, you may think it is easier to close it up and forget about it. Nothing could be further from the truth. With a little bit of effort and some searching around you can have a feature in the room which will add value to your home.
You will want to add a fireplace which is both fitting for the period of your home, but also within budget. In many cases you will be well advised to buy a reproduction period fireplace with all of the inserts included. In most cases these are cheaper and are actually made to a good standard. They can look very good in most houses. Simply visit your DIY store for a good selection of reasonably priced fireplaces.
The purist in you may prefer to search out the real thing. Bargains can be had for some types of salvaged fireplaces, but for the most part you can expect to pay several hundred pounds. Most salvage yards will have a good selection of period fireplaces, whether you are looking for Victorian, Edwardian or Georgian. Alternatively you could search for fireplaces on Ebay or advertised locally.
Fitting your fireplace once you have selected the right one is the most challenging part of this process. Parts of the job may need to be completed by a professional, such as checking and cleaning the chimney, but otherwise it is a job for a competent DIYer.
- Clear the area of any loose bricks, plaster or old fireplace parts. Make sure the opening is a square as possible. Measure it to make sure your fireplace will fit.
- If the hearth is missing you will need to lay a new one. You can choose the type of material you want to use for this, but tiles, slate or granite are popular options. A hearth must be at least 125mm thick and should be built of a non-combustible material. This part of the job is covered by building regulations.
- If you have chosen to have a tiled surround then you need to lay these tiles now. Use a special cement which is designed for use around fires.
- The metal fireplace parts can now be inserted into the opening. The fireback needs to be placed slightly forward of the back of the opening as it needs room to expand. Lay the fireback on a bed of mortar at the correct height. Fill the space behind with rubble.
- Fit the upper section; again using mortar to hold it in place. Complete the job by angling the mortar towards the chimney opening. This will encourage the smoke to go up the chimney rather than behind the insert.
- Your fireplace may also have a frontage which may need to be screwed into place. This can be fitted now.
Finally fix the fireplace surround to the wall ensuring it is completely level. Some surrounds may come in sections which are fitted individually.