Makeover your fireplace with thin brick

DIY – Drab fireplace gets a brick makeover with Old School 8s

Even a classic 1960 Cape Cod home can benefit from some updating when the previous owners’ remodeling just doesn’t match your taste. Here’s an example of a fireplace that got a more period-appropriate brick makeover using Old School 8s thin brick veneer.

With a little instruction and the right tools, it’s a do-it-yourself project you can knock out over a couple of weekends with amazing results you can take pride in.

This home has cozy family room connected to the kitchen, but the fireplace—converted to gas logs—had been remodeled to the point that it looked out of place in the 60-year-old home. A wood mantle had been added and green tiles applied on the hearth and around the fireplace opening. This wasn’t working for the new owners.

So out went the add-ons as the owners stripped the fireplace back to its original structure. And in came the Pine Hall Brick Old School 8s for the brick makeover.

DIY fireplace makeover BEFORE photo
The previously remodeled fireplace was out of place in the 1960 Cape Cod family room. The hardest part of the project was removing the tiles, placed over the original brick.
DIY fireplace makeover AFTER photo
With all the wood and moulding gone, Old School 8s were set right on top of the old brick using Thin-Set mortar.
Rehab a remuddled fireplace with Old School 8s
Old School 8s come with special corner shapes to emulate the look of full brick along the edge of any project.

Old School 8s is the name of our latest thin brick that pays tribute to an earlier brick size—half the width of standard modern brick—and style. Old School 8s are “rumbled” for a weathered look.

The owner is not a pro, but he had some prior experience with masonry. He estimated the whole project took about 10 hours. You’ll want to allow more time than that if you’ve never worked with mortar.

Thin-set for DIY brick makeover with thin brick
One brand of thin-set. Available at home improvement stores.

With any of our thin brick it’s possible to cover a range of surfaces. In this case the new brick veneer is over old brick that had grown dull over the years.

An application of thin-set mortar allowed the thin brick tiles to be placed and aligned using spacers to achieve an optimum gap and straight mortar lines. Once a section of brick is stuck in place, you can apply regular mortar, or in this case sanded grout, in the gaps using mortar bag (like a cake decorator). Then come back through with a joint tool to smooth out the mortar and remove excess.

Our owner used a few spacers—to line up the brick in the thinset—but mostly just eyeballed the lines to get a more rustic look. Then he got pretty fancy with his design, creating a unique pattern from drawings found online that is reminiscent of older masonry applications. This required some fairly intricate cuts using a dustless, vacuum brick saw you can rent from most builder supply stores.  Corners were achieved with specially formed thin brick corners.

Old School 8s cut easily for DIY brick makeover
Use your imagination with Old School 8s. In this case, the homeowner researched masonry patterns and composed this with some careful cutting.

The brick makeover results are beautiful. Now the fireplace engages the space more, making the hearth a central feature of the room.

Old School 8s give the older home a fireplace better matched to the overall home design and exterior brick and paver features.

Top of fireplace after brick makeover
Brick over brick – our DIYer had to remove tiles from earlier remodeling that had covered the fireplace’s original brick. Thin-set mortar made the job easy and permanent.
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