Any Rehab Addict fans out there? She’s kind of our hero when it comes to house stuff.
There’s something that happens to a house when it’s been passed down to various owners several times over 100 years. Each owner adds a tweak here and there. Everyone has their reasons for doing certain things. Perhaps a reflection of their personal style, a reflection of the era, or for functional reasons. But to us, there’s something sad about covering up intricate details of a house.
In this particular house, it was the “Fireplace.” There’s a reason for those quotes which I’ll get into later.
One of the things we were really looking forward to when we bought this house was exposing the fireplace. I just knew there was brick behind that wall and I couldn’t wait to get the keys in my hand to start taking a sledgehammer to that wall. And sure enough, that’s exactly what we did.
About a week into owning our house (we still had a month to go before officially moving in), we covered the surrounding floor with kraft paper to protect the beautiful hardwood flooring, hung up plastic drop cloths to cover the entrance to the living room to catch the dust that we’d inevitably stir up, and started tearing into the wall.
Hesitantly at first. We had no idea exactly how far behind the wall the brick was and didn’t want to hammer a brick into the chimney. Once we’d created a hole in the wall, I shoved my phone in there with the flash turned on and took several pictures so that we could see what we were working with. And that’s when we made the big discovery…
Sure there was brick back there, but it turned out that all this wall was hiding was a 1′ x 1′ chimney which we have since determined houses the flue for the gas floor furnace. Drat. There was definitely a moment where I considered just patching the hole up and walking away from this project, but a little encouragement from the Mister reminded me what I always knew. Exposed brick is always better regardless of functionality.
So on we went. Ripping down drywall section by section. In case you’re wondering how we knew that this wall wasn’t original to the house, you can tell because the wall was drywall. The rest of the walls in the house are lath and plaster. Drywall wasn’t used in home construction during 1920. And before long, we had the sides open. Now we just needed to take down the mantel.
A little prying and pulling and the whole thing came down.
We removed the nails from the back (or hammered flat the ones we couldn’t pull out) and then waddled the mantel into the dining room where it still sits today… 8 months later. But let’s not dwell on the folly of man.
With the mantel out of the way, we continued our demo. We had to be much more careful ripping off the drywall from the front of the chimney since there wasn’t a big gap in between. This meant less sledgehammer and more just prying and ripping. Less fun for sure.
Eventually the messiest of our job was done. We were pretty good about taking breaks during the whole process and cleaning up the mess in stages so that it wasn’t a gigantic pile of debris at the end. Another big black bag loaded with drwall bits, a little sweeping, and suddenly it was looking more polished. That was the moment I stopped wondering if we’d made a terrible mistake.
Next up was the framing removal and by God that was the biggest pain the butt of this whole project. Those studs were really really in there. I didn’t think we’d ever get them out.
I’m not entirely sure what happened next (this is why I shouldn’t wait 8 months before posting about things), but I ended up injuring myself somehow and having to sit on a ladder on the other side of the room drinking beer and taking pictures while the Mister did all the heavy lifting. Or maybe I wasn’t injured at all …
Oh wait… I remember!
So we tried to rip out the framing studs and they were NOT budging. At all. I mean full body weight thrown behind a sledgehammer and nothing. So I brilliantly decided that we should run to Lowe’s and buy another circular saw (and even though I already owned one it was in Baltimore at the time) to weaken the wood enough to hammer it out.
While putting it together, I let go of a lever too soon and it snapped the safety cover of the saw on my hand taking the skin off the top of my index finger. Who knew you could almost lose a finger with the safety cover?! The saw wasn’t even plugged in! Man that was a gnarly accident and of course we had nothing but dusty paper towels to wrap it up in since we didn’t actually live there yet. In retrospect, first aid supplies should always be on hand when doing demolition work. But, you live, you learn. Anyway, we were back at work before long. Me sipping beer taking pictures, the Mister ripping out the studs. Oh and I should probably mention that we did finish getting the saw put together and then realized it wouldn’t reach the studs without an extension cord. Yeah. That happened.
3 hours later…
OK, so it didn’t take that long. In fact, between frustration and pure adrenaline (and perhaps without me in the way), the Mister just ripped the studs out of the wall with his hands by sheer force. My hero.
So there you have it folks, how we exposed a
fireplace chimney and kept all of our fingers.