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How to Update a Fireplace

March 30, 2020 · 5 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

How to Update a Fireplace

Even in the age of furnaces and smart thermostats, the fireplace is still a focal point of the home. It’s not necessarily keeping you toasty in the cold months, but it is serving as the visual frame of reference in a living space.

So when your fireplace is boarded up, or drably dated, remodeling it can breathe new life and warmth into the entire area.

Not only that, it could bring you some extra cash. An Angie’s List survey of real estate agents revealed that more than 68% believe that having a fireplace in the home increases its value.

So before you try to board it up or knock it down, explore trends and tips for how to remodel a fireplace.

Your fireplace might be housed in a brick wall, meaning you have not only the fire box to contend with, but an entire brick wall to reimagine. While exposed brick is on trend, it can also make a room feel dark or small.

Reimagining your brick wall and brick fireplace may seem daunting, but there are several ways to update the brick, or remodel over it for a fresh new look.

Before you commit to a remodeling plan for your fireplace, consider the following questions:

•   Do I mind if this is permanent? Some fireplace updates won’t be reversible, so you may want to sleep on it before you dive into something you’re not in love with.

•   Do I want wood, gas or both options? Some areas or individuals prefer gas over wood burning options. Wood burning can add to poor air quality in some cases.

•   How much do I want to spend on the project? Materials, installation, and time can be costly, and some updates are more affordable than others.

•   Are you updating the fireplace for potential sellers or yourself? Answering this question might give you a better idea of how much you want to spend, and which style might appeal to a future buyer.

Depending on what you have in mind for your hearth, options for updating may vary. Warm yourself up with these fresh takes on the fireplace.

Painting the Fireplace

Painting your fireplace is likely the most affordable way to give the room an update. Paint can cost anywhere between $30 to $100 per gallon , depending on where you live and what type and brand you go with.

1. Applying a coat of paint to the fireplace shouldn’t take more than an afternoon, but some professionals recommend you prep with these steps beforehand:

2. Brush the wall to clear off mortar or debris.

3. Vacuum the debris from the brick.

4. Clean and degrease the fireplace brick with a sponge.

5. Choose indoor, latex, heat resistant paint (200 degrees).

There are seemingly endless colors and types to choose from, but many designers recommend a neutral black, gray, or white.

A white or neutral tone can have a space-opening effect, making the room seem larger. Some colors will make the room look smaller, and might turn off potential buyers in the future. Flat, semigloss or gloss can be used.

Remodeling the Mantel

Adding a mantel or remodeling your existing one can change the entire look of a fireplace. Your mantel could include additional built-ins around the fireplace, or a simple minimalist board above the firebox.

Switching up your mantel is typically an easy remodel since it’s just a frame for the fireplace itself. The costs associated with it are likely tied to how ornate your plans are. Out-of-the-box mantel kits start around $180 , and can be assembled and installed in a day by a DIY novice.

If you have more ambitious plans for your mantel, it’ll likely cost you. Stone and marble mantels start at $3,000 , and a custom mantel costs a similar amount. The more complicated the design, the higher the price of creation and installation.

Mantel installation can be pricey, but in many cases it can also be reversed, making it an appealing option in the event that you decide to sell the home down the line.

Tiling Over the Existing Fireplace

If you’re looking to refinish your fireplace, tiling might be the right choice for you. Try a white subway tile for a sleek, modern finish, or a printed tile for a unique pop of color in your space.

The cost of remodeling your fireplace with tile will vary widely based on the size of your fireplace, as well as the cost of tile per square foot.

Tile installation averages around $1,500 for a project this size. However, depending on the condition of your fireplace, you might choose to consult with a brick mason in addition to a tiling professional.

A mason can let you know if its possible for the brick to be covered evenly. But, be warned—once you start tiling over your fireplace, you likely can’t reverse the process.

Covering Your Brick Fireplace with Stone

If you’re looking for a natural but updated treatment on your fireplace, stone might be the right fit. However, if your brick is already painted, it’s likely the mortar required to attach the stone won’t adhere. Consult with a masonry professional to see if your brick is porous enough to cover over.

If your fireplace is a good candidate for stone work, you’ll want to install a cement board over the existing brick as a template for the stone. The resurfacing process costs on average, $1,100 for labor , but depending on which stone you use, expenses can balloon.

•   Artificial stone veneer is the most common choice for most fireplace projects. Although it might look like real stone, it’s not as heavy as the real thing. Installation is similar to that of real stone, but on average, it costs less than real rock.

•   Natural stone veneer is the priciest and trickiest stone to install. It’s heavy, hard to come by, and expensive. Additionally, since it’s more difficult to work with than the alternatives, you may want to work closely with a professional.

•   Faux stone is affordable, lightweight, and has no actual stone. Instead of installing piece by piece, faux stone can be installed in larger panels. However, unlike artificial stone veneer, faux stone bears less resemblance to the real thing and is often hollow.

Drywalling Over the Fireplace

You might be done with brick entirely, and just want a white wall to work with. In that case, drywalling over most of the fireplace might be the solution for you.

With drywall, you can choose to cover all, or a portion of the brick wall and fireplace. You might choose to reveal some bricks, but minimize the overall look of exposed brick in the space.

To drywall around the fireplace, you’ll use two-by-fours and attach sheetrock to them. From there, you’ll paint and have a new wall.

But, be warned, this method can leave your room slightly smaller. Work with a contractor to get a better idea how room dimensions might change. Typically, installing drywall costs $1.50 per square foot, and jobs cost $1,711 on average .

Financing Your Fireplace without Burning up Your Budget

Depending on the route you choose to take, updating your fireplace could turn into a pricey venture.

Remodels can sometimes take longer and creep outside your budget. If you don’t have wiggle room in your savings, you might consider an installment loan with SoFi.

SoFi offers unsecured personal loans for loan amounts up to $100K, it won’t be a lien against your property and you could receive the funds you need in as little as 3 days. With low rates and no fees, you can focus on your focal point for the fireplace of your dreams.

Getting ready to remodel your fireplace? Check out SoFi personal loans to fund your rehab project.


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