Thread Number: 35151  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
Thrift Shop Fireplace Doors
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Post# 378677   9/19/2017 at 23:04 (367 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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I've never liked my fireplace. It's tiny, it's got an ugly rough hewn mantel that's warped and it's in the dining room. Seriously, who puts a fireplace in the dining room? The only thing I really like about the fireplace is it has gas logs and they left the damper functional where I can let some of its excessive heat out the chimney and keep from monoxiding myself.

I can't do much about the location but I did help the aesthetics a little today by installing a set of antique brass fireplace doors that I picked up on the cheap yesterday at a thrift shop. They had three sets and aesthetically, this one was my least favorite but it was precisely the right size while the others were way too large so I chose function over form.

The only mounting hardware it had was a pair of angle braces so I just secured those to the inside of the fireplace with masonry screws. The braces were intended to attach to the top of the fireplace but there's an iron bar across the inside of the fireplace opening and I couldn't drill through it so I ended up rotating the brackets 90 degrees and secured them to the sides instead. There were some screw heads in the way on the back of the door frame but after about an hour, I made it work. When I was all done, I thought I'd installed the fireplace doors off center but when I measured it, the thing was spot on center. What's off center is the fireplace itself as well as the mantel supports.

Even though I'm not really fond of antique brass, I have to admit it actually looks better than I expected and it does kind of fit the aesthetic of my 1970s vintage spec built house. The best part is it keeps my cats out of the fireplace as Lily is so kindly demonstrating in the photo below. The next step is to find a better looking mantel. I'm thinking maybe a vintage architectural salvage piece might be interesting.

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Post# 378687 , Reply# 1   9/20/2017 at 07:56 (367 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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That works!

Post# 378725 , Reply# 2   9/20/2017 at 22:43 (366 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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A day later, it seems like those doors were always there. And guess what? I found a mantel today. I'll have to stain it first, but once it's mounted and get of the 'railroad tie' that's up there now, I'll have given my fireplace a major makeover and even if I can't move it into the living room where it belongs, it'll look more like it belongs in a dining room.

Post# 378870 , Reply# 3   9/24/2017 at 12:05 (363 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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So the mantel piece arrived on Friday. I knew it was going to take up the entire width of the chimney but it actually overhangs each side by a fraction of an inch. The mantel is a slightly scant 60 inches (probably closer to 59 3/4 inches) and the chimney is 59 inches, go figure. I'm tempted to sand the outermost corners off but I'll probably just leave them as they are. The piece is unpainted poplar, which is usually considered paint grade but the wood is clear and unblemished so I've gotten three spray cans of Minwax Polyshades Mission Oak glossy urethane stain with which to finish it before it goes up. I figured that would be easier to apply to the dentil work and it also eliminates the need--and expense--of brushes as well as mineral spirits for cleanup. I'm hoping next weekend will present sufficient time and favorable weather for the finishing project or maybe one afternoon this week.

Post# 378910 , Reply# 4   9/25/2017 at 08:38 (362 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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Good Luck Edgar

Post# 379055 , Reply# 5   9/30/2017 at 15:45 (357 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
So far, so good...

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I've been working on staining the mantel today and it's starting to look very good, despite my lack of experience. The spray urethane stain is certainly easy to work with and much more forgiving than spray paint. The Mission Oak color is a bit more golden than I had anticipated, but as the stain builds up, it's taking on a nice, rich hue. Right now, my index finger is sore from pressing the buttons on the cans. Somewhere, I've got a pistol grip handle that makes a rattle can feel more like working with a paint gun but I couldn't find it.

I've got the mantel sitting on sawhorses in the back yard with plenty of sunshine to cure the finish. The only issue I've had so far is a light breeze that keeps blowing the stain away from where I really want it. I've used two of the three cans I bought so far. I sprayed on a light coat (one can) to seal the wood, which was very thirsty, which is not at all surprising. Then I let it sit for half an hour before adding a second coat to start laying down the color (about another half to two thirds of a can). I let that one dry for a couple of hours, then hit it with some #0000 steel wool just to smooth things up. I just now sprayed on another light coat, mainly on the top, using the rest of the second can. I'm going to let the mantel bake in the sun for the rest of the afternoon, then I'll hit it with the steel wool again tomorrow before I put on the 'beauty coat'. In a worst-case scenario, I may get a small can of conventional urethane and a disposable foam brush to add a heavier final coat to the top. I'm confident the top and sides will be fine with just another good coat from the last rattle can.

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Post# 379126 , Reply# 6   10/1/2017 at 23:29 (355 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
The mantel is up!

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My fireplace makeover is complete. When I got home from church today, I put a final coat of urethane stain on the mantel and took a crowbar to the old mantel. I can't believe that sucker was held in place with nails into brick, but it was pretty solidly in place. I'm going to have to find some 'brick bondo' to patch where the nails were. The most challenging part was getting the bracket, which was just a strip of wood with one side cut at an angle to match the angle of a corresponding strip on the back of the mantel. It came with four drywall screws that were narrower than my smallest masonry bit so I had to get some appropriate masonry screws. Once I got all the appropriate materials together, the whole thing went up very easily. It overhangs both sides of the chimney by about half an inch, but it doesn't look bad. I'm going to let the stain dry overnight before I put stuff back on the mantel but I'm pleased with the way it turned out. I'll post pictures later.

Post# 379134 , Reply# 7   10/2/2017 at 08:02 (355 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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Handsome mantle, nice detail.

Post# 379157 , Reply# 8   10/2/2017 at 17:22 (355 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        
Fireplace 2.0

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As promised, here are photos of the completed fireplace. If you look closely on the right side, you can see where it ever so slightly overhangs the chimney by maybe a quarter inch. I still need to do something to the bricks where they're damaged but other than that, I'm quite pleased. I wish I had taken a photo of the old mantel before it went under the crowbar but the photo of it sitting outside my tool shed pretty much tells the story. It was butt ugly and needed to go. I still can't believe those nails were holding it in place--and firmly.

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Post# 379158 , Reply# 9   10/2/2017 at 17:28 (355 days old) by suckolux (Yuba City, CA)        

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Post# 379282 , Reply# 10   10/5/2017 at 14:24 (352 days old) by luxkid1980 (Richmond, Virginia)        

Nice work!

When we moved into our house, the den fireplace very nearly had the same brass fireplace doors as the one in your photos. I was not fond of the look of the doors at all, so we painted them a flat black with high temperature spray paint (just taped off the glass portions) and it looks great now! The brass was very dated looking in our place and it needed a refresh.

Also, the brick fireplace itself and hearth were an ugly brownish gray that apparently the previous owners painted and did a terrible job. We in turn painted it a dark gray color and it really looks good now in our den with the black fireplace doors. They are easy to open when we turn on the gas logs. We have another fireplace in the living room, but the hearth is almost floor level and is comprised of brown tiles (that don't look very good in my opinion). I may tackle that in the coming years or see if I can find someone to replace them with something else that looks better but because the hearth is so low, I am not sure if painting them would be a good option.

Post# 379314 , Reply# 11   10/5/2017 at 23:03 (351 days old) by human (Pines of Carolina)        

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Yeah, the antique brass wouldn't have been my first choice. There was a more contemporary looking one in polished brass at the thrift shop for the same price but it was six inches too tall and would have showed brick at the top of the glass doors. But compared with the butt ugly mantel and ungainly fireplace screen that were there before, the one I've got now is a great improvement both functionally and aesthetically. It's continuing to grow on me, especially since I put up the new mantel. Since I took the photos earlier this week, I got some concrete and mortar repair compound and patched the spots where the old mantel's supports had been nailed into the brick and I added the final touch today by installing a couple of brass hooks to hang my grandfather's uncle's Spanish American War era army dress sword underneath it. To quote the Big Lebowski, it kind of ties the whole thing together.

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