Hey friends! I’m trying to get caught up on posting about all of the fun stuff we’ve been doing at the new cabin. This will be a two part post because I’m re-doing the whole fireplace surround and this is just one part of it. Anyways, once we got the wood floors in I couldn’t stop thinking about how dated the tile and brick looked. It just looks like a dated old house, instead of an awesome rustic cabin. I love old things, don’t get me wrong, but this was just….not working.
I had already started breaking up the tile a bit when I took this photo, but you get the idea. The flesh colored tile and brick…the brass doors, ugh. None of it is working. So I’m learning lessons from the past and I’m taking on one piece of this at a time, starting with the hearth (AKA the part on the floor in front of the fireplace.)
I used a pry bar and a hammer to break up and lift away the tile. Didn’t take too long, maybe 20 mins. In hindsight I would mask off the areas around it if you have anything that could get damaged. Also – WEAR SAFETY GLASSES, and shoes! Tiny sharks fly around, so seriously, wear safety glasses so you don’t have it flying at your eyes. Also shoes so you don’t get a sliver in your foot. I say both of these things from learning the hard way……so don’t do what I did.
Next step – find a new tile. I went to the store and found some cool stone patterns that I loved, but everything I was looking at was like $10/sq ft. Trying to be thrifty, I decided to use…rocks! From my yard. They are free, and it could work, right? I have no idea what I’m doing here, but I figured if I found rocks that were flat-ish and tried to keep them under like .75 inches thick, maybe I could use them in place of tile or stone. I laid them out to get a visual of what it would look like done and also make sure I had collected enough. This is me….foraging…using a laundry basket to collect rocks in.
I decided to go about this whole thing as if I was tiling, and planned to use a thinset base and come back to fill in the gaps with a dark gray grout. If you’ve never tiled before, this may sound like a lot to learn, but it’s really not that bad. Ideally, you’d lay a base before laying tile of cement backer board or at least plywood to keep the tile from cracking, but since I know no one will be walking on this area I’m tiling right onto the subfloor (not recommended, yeah yeah.) I mixed up about half of the thinset as directed on the bag, and using a trowel I spread a layer about .75 inches thick on the entire area. You can definitely do this in chunks if you have a bigger area, and I would if I had it to do over – I ended up sort of frantically placing the stones before the thinset dried at the end.
[Still locating photo of this step]
Fun part! I pre-sorted my rocks into big, medium and small. I did this to make sure I had them spread out size wise. I pushed them into the thinset a little or a lot, depending on how thick they were. Ideally they’d make a fairly even surface, but that didn’t really happen. Once I had the big ones laid, I went onto the medium, and so on. I fit them in sort of like a puzzle, but you could really do a lot of different patterns if you wanted, like a gradation of color, patterns, etc?? I’d also be interested to try this with one general size of stones of all one color. So many possibilities, my friends.
Starting to place the rocks…
It is definitely not perfect, but I kind of love it. I literally brought the outdoors in. My favorite part about it is that these actually came from our yard and lake. Locally sourced material 😀
I was planning to grout between these, but I need to decide if that’s going to work. I may just mix up some extra thinset and put it in a plastic bag, cut a hole in the corner and squeeze it in the cracks to fill them in a bit more. Thoughts??? I don’t know, either way, I need to wait for this to cure, so I can’t do anything yet!
Next step….fireplace. NO clue what I’m doing there yet. Same thing? Skimcoat with gray? Paint it? HELP!