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Drywalling over a brick fireplace

We have a floor to ceiling brick fireplace from the 1950's.  We are planning on adding a mantel 5' from the floor and drywalling from the mantel to the ceiling. The opening from the fireplace to where the mantel will start is about 2'.  The bottom will be resurfaced with stacked rock.


My question is about the drywall. What is the best material to use to attach the drywall (wood or metal furring strips?) We would like to have enough support to hang a tv, mirror or picture.


Also, I have read where some people attach drywall, whereas others use Hardibacker or Durarock.  Are these all options, or is one better than the other in this case?


Thanks for your help! 

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Posted 2011-02-10T06:21:39+0000  by catwoman_0357 catwoman_0357

Hey Catwoman!


We'll have that 1950's brick fireplace updated in no time.


Below are several examples of fireplace remodels that I hope will give you great ideas for your project.




I particularly like the first one. You are essentially boxing the entire wall to create book cases. This gives you the depth to use your stacked stone to front the existing brick (which is a key issue on this type renovation). The mantle is securely anchored into the existing wall before the stone is added, and the hearth is commonly built out of block that is capped with a natural stone that matches the decor of your home. Personally, I like the stone all the way up, but this design will work with drywall above the mantle (as you described). Simply frame a wall to fill this space using standard framing studs sixteen inches on center, secure the frame to the wall using masonry anchors, screw your sheetrock facing to the studs and finish using sheetrock mud, primer, and paint. Be sure to take advantage of your construction timeline by installing your HDTV connections before closing the wall.


Finally, ensure that your subfloor is supported well enough to handle the additional weight of the build-out.




The second shot is a basic build out using a boxed mantle w/book cases on either side for symmetry. The spacing between the windows adds dimension to the room and keeps the natural daylight. The hearth stone is flush to the floor, saving you the concern about additional "load" on the subfloor. This is probably the easiest to construct and possibly the least expensive. Like the one above, the stacked stone will be mortared to the face of the existing wall ... I would consider using fire-rated mortar on the materials exposed to direct heat. The box above the mantle will serve as a suitable home for your HDTV.




The final example is built out all the way up the wall with a stand-alone entertainment center off to one side. The hearth is stained wood to match the mantle but is capped with dark stone to match the firebox and the components in the entertainment center. The look is fresh, clean, and very functional. Like the first, more complex entertainment area, this one will likely require a review of the support provided by your existing subfloor.


Regardless of your approach, if you sheetrock above the mantle, be certain to use heavy enough framing to provide solid anchors and durable support for your components. Cutting corners in this part of your project could result in sagging and/or reconstruction at a later date. So, build a solid frame and use masonry anchors found in the Hardware Department to secure the frame to the existing brick wall.


Thinner wall materials might include: one-quarter inch repair sheetrock or products like you suggested, backer board. A frame might be built to support any of these materials using thinner materials like 2 x 2s or the furring strips. However, my concern is that you intend to support weight with this new wall. If it were simply for appearance, I wouldn't think twice. But because you want to anchor your HDTV onto the wall, I would recommend the more traditional framing boards.


Whichever method you choose, make provisions in advance to locate the HDTV cables and power supplies. Then use masonry anchors to secure the frame to the wall.


Hope these examples are food for thought! Please take time to share your "entertainment center" and your newfound DIY skills when you complete the project.

Posted 2011-02-10T15:26:46+0000  by Pat_HD_ATL

Hi, We intend to cover the brick fireplace above the mantel with drywall. It will be at least 20 inches above the heat box opening. We already have our flat screen bracket attached to the brick by a professional and intend to drywall around the bracket. There is no building out required it is just mainly for aesthetics and will be painted. Will firing strips be sufficient to support the drywall? Also I have seen on House Crashers to screw the firing strips into the mortar rather than the brick so that if we or people after us want to remove it and return to the brick there will be no damage to the brick only the mortar which can easily be repaired. What help and advise can you give me on this. Thank You for anything.

Posted 2011-11-01T00:24:54+0000  by crowie
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