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fireplace ideas, sandblasting?

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Joined: Dec 26 2003

my fireplace is block and has been painted white. It looks too plain to me, so I was thinking of sandblasting it, or possibly painting it some diff color(s), or possibly painting the mortar one color and blocks another.
anyone done any of this?

Joined: Jun 8 2003

Have you thought about having the fireplace refaced with concrete? It can customized with any colour, design or texture you want. This option will be considerably less messy than sandblasting and probably no more expensive. You can have them do both the inside and outside to get a seamless look. There is one concrete company that advertises in the eichler newletter. He has a great website, that will give you an idea of what can be done. You can find a number of other companies online. We had a estimate done a couple of weeks ago. We are planning to get our fireplace done in the fall once all our summer projects are paid for. :)

Joined: Dec 26 2003

don't have the newsletter handy, does anyone have the co's website?

Joined: Oct 13 2003

My husband and I are almost finished with the monumental, (but do-able) task of restoring our original cement block fireplace. The entire thing was painted white, (even the firebrick) and it was never used.

It had a tough base coat (possibly lead) with a latex topcoat. It was very challenging to remove all the paint since the cement blocks are SOOOOO porous. We were able to sandblast, but only AFTER the latex paint was removed. The sand can cut through lead or oil based paints, but it bounces off of latex. sigh. figures.

In the end, we DID get most of the paint off, but it was a time-consuming, messy, MULTI-step process. We also are not living in the house during remodeling so this was ok; I am not sure how you will feel about living with what we did, but if you are still interested...

Step # 1 - Strip the paint with "Peel Away"
This is a product that is slathered on the area that needs to be striped, then covered with a special paper. The chemical needs to sit for 24-48 hours then the paint literally peels off attached to the paper. It is NON-Toxic and is great for lead based paints since there are no fumes. It also does a good job getting into the nooks and crannies. Hopefully this will take most of your paint off and you won't even need to sandblast.

We of course were not so lucky; an oozy layer of base coat was left. But the latex was gone so we hired a contractor to sandblast the rest off.

FYI - we tried traditional strippers, (like Jasco - that 'melt' the old paint), but these made a huge mess and just seemed to push the old paint even further into the porous cement.

Step #2 - Sandblast
This worked really well. It took A LOT of the remaining paint off.

We made a few mistakes though... some of the areas we stripped with Peel Away were cleaner than others. (hey, we got tired!) The sand bounced off the heavy paint areas and really dug into the thinner paint areas resulting in pitting. Some of the blocks had noticeable divots and valleys. We wish the sandblasters would have told us, "You MUST, must, MUST remove ALL latex paint since the sand will not remove it, and result in abrasive cement damage." :-O

Also we should have done a better job taping off our beams. The sand bounced back and stripped off some of the stain. We now must re-hand-stain those areas. Also, DON'T SANDBLAST YOUR FIRE BRICK. It will crumble to nothing in less than a second and still leave paint behind. Yeah, we know this from experience too. :-(

FYI - sandblasting is VERY messy. Imagine someone dumping a FULL trash can of sand all over your living room and then liberally dusting your walls, windows and ceiling with fine silt. Seriously.

Step #3 - Touch-up grinding
We are pretty picky and hated the pitted areas so we used a grinder to wear the stone down. We also used the grinder to remove any left over paint chips. This worked well, but took a LONG time. Again, if we had done a better job in the stripping phase this would not have taken as long. Oh, well, live and learn.

Step #4 - remove bad tuck-pointing (you might not need this)
When we removed the paint we found that much of the mortar was crumbling. We used a skill saw with a diamond blade to cut out all the old mortar. We have hired a mason to re-tuck-point the fireplace. (this can be a home-owner project too - but it is very tedious and time consuming and quite frankly we have had enough 'fun')

Step #5 - stain the cement blocks (optional)
We have decided to stain the blocks because there are random flecks of white paint (trapped in the deep cement holes) that we want to blend into the blocks. I did a lot of research and found "Mason's Select" Cement Stain. This is an easy to use stain with lots of color options. Depending on it's application it can look very natural. It is available in the Bay Area at select retailers. An online search of their name will point you in the right direction.

Step #6 - Re-tuck-point
As I mentioned we have retained a mason to do this work

How long did this take? Toooooo long, but we are happy with the result. It took one + week to strip it with peel-away, 1 day to sandblast it. A few days to cut out the old mortar. One FULL week to grind the surface. And I estimate a week to stain it. And 2+ days to repair the surrounding drywall & re-stain the beams. Yeah. Sounds like fun right?

If you want to contact me directly and talk in more detail, please feel free. (stacey @ impureacts dot com) You are also welcome to come take a look at the fireplace in person. We live in San Francisco.

Good luck!

Joined: Dec 26 2003

wow, a little too much work considering I am already stipping off the beams, but sounds great. You guys live in the city also, you must be my future neighbors (I am currently not living in the house). Would love to drop in one day and see what you've done.

I am going to be on 148 Amber. Are you guys on Amber as wll?

Joined: Mar 9 2004

I have a fireplace with two faces, one to living room and the other to family room and it is located at the center of the house where consists of living, family, dining and kitchen floor.

it was with white painted plain block face and I decided to decorate it using marble face, moldings and new fireplace door, now it looks great. it costs about $1k materials by DIY for about two months Saterday work.

after w e finished, my wife and I were VERY HAPPY and talked, for new fireplace alone,
it is the one in two million house. ha, ha !

Have a Good Day !

Joined: Mar 2 2004

Whatever you do, include a mantle. I joined two straight oak pieces from Costco at the corner (two 45 degree cuts) and it really looked good.

Joined: Oct 8 2003

We painted our white fireplace Benjamin Moore's Split Pea green. It is a retro nod, but certainly not for everyone's tastes. The fireplace is no longer plain! Pictures of our entire remodel to come!

Joined: Mar 22 2003


The concrete company that advertises on this site is listed below. Dave is very creative and can do virtually any kind of custom work imaginable in concrete, including shower surrounds, countertops, sculptures, and flooring. I have seen his work and it is wonderful. He is also very good at responding to inquiries. That would be one place to start, if you envision doing something that is 100% unique and where you can avoid the mess of sandblasting by going over the blocks with concrete.


Diamond D Company

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