How To Build A Brick Hearth

Did you have an enchanting Labor Day weekend?  We enjoyed a nice little holiday up to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park.  It was most excellent to have a break from working on the house.

We did all our hard laboring the previous weekend.  With the completion of paint, I was all riled up to start flooring.  But Aaron buzz killed reminded me that we needed to decide on a hearth before we laid flooring.

The previous hearth was tile.  And not just tile, but tile that had the pattern of dirt on it.  I wasn’t too keen on having tile again.  #PermaDirt

DIY Brick Hearth

We kept tossing back and forth the idea of doing the same tile as whatever we decided on for the backsplash.  But I didn’t want it to be too matchy matchy.  I told Aaron he could 100% decide.  And then I immediately regretted it when he said “Red brick.”  He knew I was really hesitant, and said we could white wash them if I wanted.  However, I didn’t really want to.  I know every other blogger is all about painting and white washing brick these days… which is kind of why I didn’t want to.  I just needed to trust him on this.  A task much easier said than done.

We have a really great friend who is a brick mason who volunteered his time to help us with this project.   The total cost of this was less than $60, and we way over estimated the amount of brick needed.  We needed bricks, mortar, and wire meshing (lath).

The bricks were $0.42 in the store, the mortar was about $5 a bag, and the lath was about $7.

We used 1.5 bags of mortar for our hearth.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

I was really bummed they wouldn’t let me help… but you know, 5 months pregnant and everyone feels like they can boss you around.  Apparently there is only one type of “brick laying” I should be doing, and that should be happening in the bathroom… so…

The first thing they did after telling me I couldn’t help, was nail the lath to the subfloor where the brick would be laid.  We put a layer of the same underlayment we would be using for the rest of the flooring under the lath as a moisture barrier and extra layer of protection.  It’s not necessary, but recommended.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

How To Build a Brick Hearth

Then they mixed the mortar in a bucket.  Joel had a fancy beater, but if you didn’t have one, I’m sure the old “shovel in a wheel barrow” method would translate.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

There is no exact ratio of water to mortar mix.  It should be thick, but wet enough that it sticks to the brick.  It’s hard to explain what exactly that is until you start working with it.  But you’ll know if you need to add a little more water, or a little more mix.  Just think of it as cement frosting.  It’s always easier to start with much less milk… otherwise you’ll be adding powdered sugar til the end of time.  (Which is usually what happens in this house)

How To Build a Brick Hearth

Buster supervised.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

We used a spare piece of plywood as a trough.  Anything you want to dump the mortar on will do.  Use a trowel to spread a thin layer of mortar across the lath.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

After this step, it was go-time for laying the brick.  It’s definitely more of a craft than you would expect.  We were so glad to have Joel here to help.  He was able to teach Aaron and I some tricks of the trade that we wouldn’t have known.  There were a couple bricks that needed to be cut.  Like a tile cutter, you can rent a brick cutter at the home improvement store.  Luckily Joel brought one along.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

You mortar the sides of the brick that you are sticking to something, and level as you go.  It’s a lot of squishing and wiggling it around to get it to fit.  Much like getting into a pair of skinny jeans after the holidays.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

How To Build a Brick Hearth

How To Build a Brick Hearth

How To Build a Brick Hearth

And Indy just sat upon my lap while I watched.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

They worked from the outside to the middle.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

We told Joel that we were thinking about white-washing the brick.  He said we could get a more authentic look if we were a little “messier” with the mortar.  It would give it a worn 100-year-old brick wall look.  Perfect.  The more I thought about it, the more I loved it.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

The last step Joel did was use a little tool to even out the mortar between each brick.  And smile, of course.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

I was extraordinarily pleased when it was done.  I surprisingly LOVED it.  It has just the right amount of rustic touch.  And we decided to leave it as it.  NO PAINTING!

How To Build a Brick Hearth

It takes a full week for the mortar to dry and the color to be what it will actually look like.  A week later, this is where we’re at.  (AND you get a bonus taste of the flooring )

How To Build a Brick Hearth

How To Build a Brick Hearth

I obviously need to clean the inside of the insert… since you know, it hasn’t been cleaned since BEFORE we did a crap ton of dry walling up in this business.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

And when Buster saw the camera out, he wanted to be in on the action.  He put on his best Tyra face.

How To Build a Brick Hearth

And for the sake of enjoying a good before/after shot… I give you:

How To Build a Brick Hearth

Let’s review the list:

-Tree Removal of 120 ft Cottonwoods 

-New roof 

-Build new fence (in progress!)

-Paint ceiling & walls

-Install flooring (in progress!)

-Baseboards + board & batten

-**newly added to the list** build new banister

-Counter top install (done but you haven’t seen it yet, unless you creep on Instagram)

-Back splash

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  • Bethany Kline

    As usual I am so impressed! I was a little concerned at first when you said Aaron wanted red brick, but Oh Lord it turned out to be absolutely perfect! and it is a perfect throw back to that rockport grey on the walls! and by the way, laying brick in the bathroom Kenz… really?! LOL! I laughed so hard when I reead that, you are TOO MUCH, hahahah! Yall are so lucky to have such an awesome friend come and help yall out, and now you have some new DIY knowledge, so booya to that!

    Buster’s Tyra face cracked me up too! <3 him!

    • Kenz

      Thank you! I love it too :) and you know… sorry for the bathroom joke. I really couldn’t help myself!

  • Emma (Broke Ass Home)

    That before and after is just too yummy to handle.

    • Kenz

      SO YUMMY!

  • Ember1

    Did I miss a post? Is there a good story about why a new banister is needed? (I can picture all sorts of things that could happen to a banister under conditions like this remodel.)

    • Kenz

      Good catch Ember! No, I haven’t written a post about it. Maybe I should though. Mostly we just decided if we were going to replace it now was the time. It wasn’t originally planned, but we decided to just get it done!

      • Ember1

        And here I had visions of a cabinet or couch going through the old one (or a person). I suppose it is good that didn’t happen (if far less entertaining ;) .) Good idea to replace it while everything is torn up.

        • Kenz

          hahahaha! I wish I had a great story. Maybe I’ll have to write a piece of fiction to kick of that post :) Thanks for the idea!

  • Amber @ Wills Casa

    It looks a million times better! I love the bricks don’t read as red as they were to begin with. It looks great with the white and the floor! You are putting me to shame in the nesting/project completion area! Keep it up!

    • Kenz

      Oh girl… I hardly call this nesting. More like motivation to not have a half finished kitchen with a new baby. We haven’t even started a nursery… it’s bad news!

  • anne @ wit wisdom and food

    I love how it turned out. So glad you didn’t whitewash it. I like the messy mortar look a lot better.

    • Kenz

      Thanks Anne! I’m glad we didn’t whitewash it too :)

  • Kaitlyn Swift

    hmmm…I need to be more like you and Aaron. I need more friends with trades!! That’s awesome your friend was so willing to help! Yay!!! It looks beautiful!!!

    • Kenz

      I’m definitely grateful for friends with trades :) It makes it nice to be able to learn new things :)

  • Michelle

    I can’t wait for Busters ANTM debut…

    Love the brick. Come do mine now.

    • Kenz

      Buster is quite fierce. He’ll definitely make it to the top 4 when the cycle with dogs comes out. K, buy me a plane ticket and I’ll be on my way to Iowa!

  • http://www.desertdomicile.com/ Caitlin @ Desert Domicile

    Messy mortar for the win! LOVE how it turned out! I also like how the color of the mortar ties in with your paint color. Very nicely planned ;)

    • Kenz

      haha, right?! The mortar gives it a nice looking grey wash. I like it lots!

  • Stephanie, Sandpaper and Glue

    Oh I really love it… it’s much softer then I thought it would be. The extra mortar I think made a huge huge difference.

    • Kenz

      I agree! It’s pretty subtle. It looks like it was always supposed to look this way. :)

  • Rita@thissortaoldlife

    I would love a red brick fireplace. We just painted ours–but only because it was previously painted. I think yours looks great!

    • Kenz

      Rita your fireplace is AMAZING! I seriously love the color. It’s so bold and fun. You guys did a great job. I’m glad you didn’t go white. Your color perfect suits your family room!

  • Ainhoa

    It looks great! The color isn’t too harsh. But my favorite is the board&batten (or whatever that’s called) instead of the tile :)

    • Kenz

      Thank you!!! It was one of my favorite projects! I should have shared a link to it in this post. Whoops! Pregnancy brain…

  • Jodie Lowry

    Looks wonderful!! Also, Joel is quite the handsome friend. ;)

    • Kenz

      Thanks! And Joel is quite dazzling!

  • Vanlun

    This looks great Kenz! You guys are rocking out the home improvements. : ) Hope you and the baby are doing great. Are you going to share with us if it’s a boy or girl? Hope so.

    • Kenz

      Thank you! Aaron works hard and I watch hard! We are having a girl! And we are sooooo excited for this little lady to join up with us :)

  • http://www.suburble.com/ Tara @ Suburble

    Wow! That is an incredible transformation! And heck-to-the-yes to Aaron’s suggestion of red brick. I was amazed at how beautiful it looks! Joel’s suggestion of “aging” it was the perfect decision!

    And how many exclamation points can I use in a comment!?! Exclamation!

    • Kenz

      ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS! Thanks :) I love it too! That Aaron & Joel… way smarter than I gave them credit for. That’s for dang sure.

      • Cassie B.

        That is so true. The guys did a great job!

  • Katja @ Shift Ctrl Art

    This looks just so amazing Kenz :) Love that you went with the messy mortar look. It looks so fabuless with the new floor. Just love how the whole thing is coming together!

    • Kenz

      Thank you!!! I’m loving it too! Sometimes we have these visions in our head of how we want it to look, and then real life WAY surpasses it. That’s how I’m feeling these days :)

  • Gretchen@BoxyColonial

    ooh, nice! That’s such a lovely, subtly colored brick. and yay messy mortar!

    • Kenz

      Thanks Gretchen! I’m pretty excited over it!

  • http://newlywoodwards.com/ Kim@NewlyWoodwards

    Loooooove this. The color brick is pretty much perfection. It looks like it was meant to be there.

    Brick is something we have not tackled, but we’re planning on having a masonary fireplace in the next house so it’s coming. The smiling gives me hope.

    • Kenz

      YES! You can do it! I love brick a lot. I wish brick was celebrated more. I feel like more people deal with existing brick vs actually installing any kind of brick. It makes me a little sad. So I’m happy you’re going to do a fireplace. It will be the hottest thing in the mid-west!