Master Mason

Here we are, well into November, and I still don’t have a completed front hall to show you. Progress is being made, that’s for sure, but we’ve had a bit of delay. I’m sure you’re totally shocked… NOT! : )

The delay this time around has to do with the chimney we exposed, half in the front hall and half in the library. Tony started tearing up the library way back in August. Here’s a before photo:

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He ripped out the built-ins and took down the old plaster.

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That gave us a look at some of the different shades and papers that have adorned the walls!

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Then he replaced the plaster with sheet rock.

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The library side of the chimney needed some work though. It had some damage at the bottom – you can see above that a few of the bricks had broken and needed to be replaced. There was also that terribly patched hole from a stove that was originally hooked into the chimney. Tony had contacted a brickwork company probably 10 weeks ago who came out to tell us that our chimney was in decent shape structurally, with the exception of those couple areas requiring repair, and it was lined, so there are no poisonous escaping through our now exposed brick from the furnace which currently uses that same chimney to vent. Yay! We were more than happy to pay that company for delivering such reassuring news! However, because they’re accustomed to really large jobs, like installing brand new chimneys, they wanted a lot of money to make those little repairs. Mom asked around at her marketing group, but the guy I scheduled to come out just never showed, and he never returned my call afterward either. So Tony found an independent mason who said he could do the work for about 100 bucks. So worth it, right?! A week later or so Tony talked to the guy, but he couldn’t find the right color bricks to match. “How hard can it be?” Tony and I said to one-another. Tony went down the street, as there is a brick company at the end of our block, but they didn’t have anything close. Then Tony went downtown to two companies that sell both new and used bricks. Still no luck! Tony probably spent 3 weeks looking for bricks, but he never did find anything close. In the meantime we painted everything in the room, including three coats on the ceiling!

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But we still needed to repair the chimney!

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Then I made a little mistake that had great results! A couple months ago when I removed the plaster from the hallway side of the chimney (after Tony did the library side) I had a little big scare. I was chipping away at plaster with my putty knife and hammer when I heard a thud. I couldn’t be sure, but it seemed like some of the bricks moved! Terrified, I stopped work on that section immediately and waited until Tony got home! Much debate ensued before we were able to determine that 1) yes, a column of bricks had definitely moved, and 2) they were not a concern. Those bricks seemed to have been placed next to the chimney just so that plaster could be applied over them.

Well, a couple weeks ago I nudged some of the bricks with my toe. I couldn’t help it! They’d been beckoning to me for weeks. It was a seriously gentle nudge. I just wanted to see if they’d move. They did. A whole section of bricks just plopped right over! I called Tony over and he said, “Well, I guess we found some bricks to use for the chimney!” and he pulled them out of the wall.

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The problem was, Tony wasn’t able to get the brick guy to call him back, and all this brick trouble was delaying my progress in the hall and Tony’s progress in the library. We really wanted to pay someone to do this job, but it just wasn’t panning out. So, last Saturday, Tony took matters into his own hands!

First he took out the cement plug and some of the bricks around the hole.

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It was a little scary in there! Then he started layering mortar and bricks.

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The next day it looked like this.

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It’s almost a week later now, and the bricks look almost the same – still very wet! Hopefully they’ll dry soon so we can clean them, paint the new mortar to try and match the old, and then we can finally install the cabinets! The front hall is coming along too. With the hall side of the chimney cleaned and sealed, I was finally able to start on the fabric install!

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2 Responses to Master Mason

  1. Beth and Bob says:

    Nice work kids…again!

  2. Pingback: Catching Up | A Guy, A Girl, and a Really Old House!

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