How to paint your fireplace surround

fireplace surround

Painting a fireplace has the potential to improve the esthetics of a room dramatically. During the hot, humid summers, homeowners in the Washington DC Metro Area tend not to use their fireplaces.  The lack of use makes the summer the ideal time to paint their fireplaces.  Painting has the affect of giving your fireplace a facelift.  Many of our Washington DC fireplace repair customers paint their fireplace surround after getting their fireplace fixed.  You can find additional ways to beautify your fireplace and hearth here. 

note:  These instructions are for painting the exterior fireplace surround.  You must follow a different process for painting inside the fireplace firebox.

Get the right paint supplies for your fireplace surround

There are some supplies that you will need to paint your fireplace. This includes some safety equipment such as gloves and safety goggles. You should also get such things as:

paint rollerPaint roller

Oil Based Primer

fireplace paint
Indoor Latex Paint

fireplace drop cloth
Drop Cloth

fireplace paint brush
Small Paint Brush

Painters Tape

Step 1: Check out the Surrounding Materials

You want to be sure you paint the right materials around your fireplace. Materials such as limestone, river rock, and sandstone can be painted, but it’s going to be harder to change the color once you go through with it.

It’s best if you have a brick surround.

Step 2: Prepare the Surface

The paint isn’t going to adhere to the surface very well if it’s dirty. This means you need to have some TSP (trisodium phosphate) that doesn’t create suds as well as a wire scrub brush to do some cleaning. Be sure you wear your safety goggles and gloves while you’re doing all of the cleaning.

Clean all of the brick with the wire brush and TSP and then wash with a heavy-duty cleaner. From there, let it all dry before you tape off the areas you want to keep unpainted.

Step 3: Prime Your Brick

It’s important to prime your brick so you don’t experience soot stains on the paint later on. An oil-based primer that is stain blocking should be applied to the entire surface. Follow the instructions on the can to ensure that you are adhering to manufacturer specifications.

You should also have a drop cloth down so that primer doesn’t damage your floors as you work.

Step 4: Start Painting

Allow plenty of time for the primer to dry before you start to paint. You can choose any kind of indoor latex paint – gloss, semigloss, or flat. This is a personal preference, though many people opt for a semigloss or flat. Just be sure that the paint is capable of withstanding temperatures of at least 200°F. If you decide to paint your mantle, you could always choose to go with a glossier version up there.

The roller you choose should be designed for textured surfaces. It will allow you to get into all of the nooks and crannies of the brick. You are only painting the outside of the fireplace. If you want to paint the interior of the firebox, you will need a special heat-resistant paint.

With the right supplies and some patience, you can have a great looking fireplace. Follow the instructions on all of the paints and primers you buy, too, so that there are no safety issues.  Many homeowners touch up the paint on the fireplace every year after their annual chimney sweep.

4 Significant reasons to install a gas fireplace

gas fireplace installation

We recently had a customer in Silver Spring, MD ask us about the benefits of installing a gas fireplace.   There are many benefits to installing a gas fireplace in your home.   If you don’t have a fireplace or a chimney, you may want to consider this option. Gas fireplaces do not require a chimney for installation, and instead, utilize direct-vent technology, meaning a pipe unit runs outdoors through the side of your house. This is a very common option for homes in needing fireplaces in Washington DC.  The lack of a chimney eliminates mortar related chimney repairs.   Those who currently have a masonry wood-burning fireplace may want to consider a gas fireplace.  As a professional company that installs fireplaces, we install gas and wood burning fireplaces.  However, wood-burning fireplaces can be converted to a gas fireplace insert, and they offer many advantages over the latter. 

Compared to wood fireplaces, gas fireplaces have many benefits:

  • Gas fireplaces provide a more efficient and consistent heat supply.
  • They eliminate the hassle of dealing with firewood and smoke.
  • They can reduce your fuel consumption and annual energy bills.
  • They can improve your home’s resale value. 

More Efficient and Consistent Heat Supply:

Gas fireplaces offer a much higher level of efficiency and consistency compared to wood-fueled masonry fireplaces. Since they are thermostatically controlled, you have total control over the degree of warmth they provide. You don’t have to deal with getting your fireplace started and adding logs when the flames are not producing enough heat. Instead, you can enjoy a steady and consistent heat supply. 

Gas Fireplaces are Less Hassle:

Convenience is another advantage to gas fireplaces. After a gas fireplace is installed, you don’t ever have to worry again about dealing with dirty firewood and smoke. There’s no more need to chop, store or haul firewood.   You can also safely maintain your gas fireplace with ease.  Read this article about gas fireplace safety. 

Reduce Fuel Consumption and Yearly Heating Bills:

In addition to involving less hassle, gas fireplaces can also reduce your fuel consumption and annual heating bills. The concept of “zone heating” is useful when it comes to talking about gas fireplaces. Whereas a central heating unit heats your whole home, with a gas fireplace, you can utilize zone heating, meaning you only heat the room when it’s occupied, in turn, reducing your total fuel consumption. 

Here is an example of how zone heating might look like in practice. Typically, once the homeowner has decreased the temperature on the central thermostat, he or she will use their gas fireplace to heat their living room or family room (the areas of the home they are spending a majority of the time). This has the benefit of keeping those rooms warm while decreasing the money devoted to heating other rooms. Also, gas fireplaces are good at heating your home during moderate weather, thus providing an excellent alternative to using central heat during this time, which would be more expensive. According to some studies, you could enjoy energy savings as high as 20 to 40% by heating individual rooms using a gas fireplace and turning off your central heating system. 

Gas Fireplaces Improve Your Home’s Resale Value:

Finally, it’s important to view a gas fireplace as an investment, which can improve the resale value of your home. Gas fireplaces typically pay for themselves, according to Marshall & Swift, which provides the appraisal industry with cost data on residential and commercial properties. According to their appraiser’s handbook, when selling a home, a homeowner can plan to recoup nearly 91% of what it cost to add their direct vent gas fireplace.

Gas fireplaces offer many advantages. This recent fireplace installation is a good example of how a fireplace can beautify your home. They can be installed in homes with or without chimneys.  It’s also possible to convert a wood-burning fireplace to a gas fireplace insert, something a professional fireplace installation company can easily do. For those currently considering a gas fireplace, it is important to remember their many benefits: a consistent heat supply, less hassle, reduction to your energy bills and, finally, an improvement in your home’s resale value. 

Feel free to visit our fireplace installation page to learn more about gas fireplace installation.  You can find info here.

Choosing between Fireplaces vs Fireplace Inserts

 gas fireplace insert

Imagine snuggling up to a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night or hanging stockings across the mantle during the holidays.  A fireplace can add a sense of contentment and style, not to mention warmth and comfort.  Many homes in the Washington DC Metro Area have beautiful fireplaces.  Many homeowners contract with companies like ours for fireplace installation.  Whether they are considering upgrading an existing fireplace or installing a new fireplace in a home that does not have one, many homeowners find themselves choosing between installing fireplaces and installing a fireplace insert.  There are a lot of things to consider when deciding between a fireplace and an insert. 

 Cost and Maintenance Are Important Factors

It is usually more costly to install a fireplace.  However, many people like the look and comfort offered by a traditional fireplace. Traditional fireplaces are usually made of brick or stone and contain a flue and chimney.  While they look beautiful, these open hearths can be costly to install and challenging to maintain. 
If your home does not already have a chimney, building a fireplace will require a major renovation. First, a cavity must be created, then the chimney built and proper ventilation installed. That doesn’t include the indoor structure and mantle, which itself can add thousands onto the project budget. 

The Classic Look of Traditional Fireplaces
traditional open fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Fireplaces have a classic look that many people find irresistible.  Inserts are more efficient.  However, in some homes, the modern design of fireplace inserts can conflict with the furniture and décor of the home.  We see this often in homes in historic areas in Washington DC such as Georgetown.  A fireplace insert can look modern to the level that they look out of place in the room.

Fireplace Inserts Offer a Good Alternative

What if you already have a traditional fireplace that needs significant repairs, but cannot afford to rebuild it? Consider a fireplace insert. These beautifully designed metal boxes are an excellent way to salvage an already built fireplace, by allowing you to have a similar look and feel of a traditional fireplace with lower installation and maintenance costs.  They also tend to be significantly more energy efficient.

pellet stove insert
Pellet Stove Fireplace Insert

If you want a more traditional look and feel for your fireplace, a pellet insert may be the answer. This allows you to burn pellets in the hearth giving you the look of real flames and even the smell of burning wood.

gas fireplace insert
Gas Fireplace Insert

Those who want a low-maintenance option may want to consider a gas fireplace insert. This gives the look of a real fire without the inconvenience of collecting, storing and carrying wood.  It also eliminates messy cleanup.  Simply flick a switch and flames appear. Turn it off when you are done and walk away.  You can find an article that reviews the benefits of a gas fireplace in further detail here.  You may also want to look at this previously completed project. 

Avantages of Fireplace Inserts

* Low Cost: Costing only a few hundred dollars, inserts are a low-cost way to add style to any room.
* Faster Installation: Can be completed in half the time of rebuilding a fireplace. 
* Stylish:  Modern inserts offer a more trendy look than a traditional fireplace presents.
* Can Be Placed Almost Anywhere:  Inserts can also be installed in smaller spaces since they don’t need the same clearances as their wood-burning counterparts. 

Which fireplace option is best for you?

When considering adding a fireplace to your home ask yourself these important questions:

  • What kind of look am I after?
  • Does my home already have a chimney?
  • What’s the difference in the cost?
  • How much maintenance am I willing to handle?

Fireplaces add comfort and style to any room. Whether you choose an open-air hearth or an insert is simply a matter of taste and cost. Both look beautiful and can give you years of enjoyment.  

6 great ideas for decorating fireplace hearths

During our fireplace repair and chimney sweeping in Washington DC we see a wide variety of hearth decoratoins.  You can find out more about our service here.  Fireplaces tend to be a major focal point  of a room.  Some of the decorations that we see enhance the appearance of the room and other seem to look out of place.  It’s important to explore the many fireplace hearth decoration ideas.  Be sure that your decorations integrate well with the rest of the home. There are all sorts of ways a well decorated fireplace hearth can to add character to the space.  Below are some great hearth decoration ideas. 

1. Use vases to decorate your fireplace hearth

fireplace hearth with vases

Vases on the hearth have the potential to add contrast from the material used. If you opted for a brick hearth, you could use glass or stone. Choose colors that help to incorporate the other colors you have within the room to finish off the look.

2. Add a culinary touch to your hearth

hearth with culinary decorations

Fireplaces and stoves should to be the primarily used to prepare meals.  Though moden fireplaces are less likely to be used for cooking, many find using items associated with cooking to be a good choice for decorating a hearth.  Many find that decorating their hearth in this way fosters memories of their youth.  Pots and pans add a nice decorative touch. You might also want to hang hooks for ladles, spatulas, and more. You can find many low cost, unique options at their local antique shop, flea market or yard sale. 

3. Create a fireplace shelf

stone veneer fireplace hearth with shelf

A shelf is something you can easily install that adds a personal touch.  Most of the shelves are wooden and then you can choose to paint a coordinating color.  On top of the shelf, you can add some of your own charm. This could be candlesticks, photographs, a rustic clock, or something else that would help to add your personality into the room. 

4. Add a mirror above the fireplace

fireplace hearth decoration with mirror

You might want to consider adding a mirror above the hearth as this will create an illusion that the room is much larger than it is. When you decide to have a fireplace built into a living room or other space, you give up some floor space. To avoid feeling as though you are closed in, you can hang a mirror.   Be sure to look at this previous project involving a fireplace with a mirror. 

As for the type of mirror you hang, the larger, the better. Some have a lot of ornate features, which might go with other details of your home. Additionally, you can take a DIY approach with the mirror and mount crown molding to the edges, which is ideal if you have crown molding elsewhere in the room.

5. Extend the floor in front of the fireplace

fireplace hearth decoration with extended floor

Once the hearth is in place, you can opt for an extended floor. Of the fireplace hearth decoration ideas, this one will help to smooth the transition from the fireplace into the rest of the room. You can get creative and make a mosaic pebble tile on your hardwood or bamboo floors. This gives the appearance that your fireplace has “bubbled over,” adding some character to the room.

6. Use an Ornate Fireplace Screen

fireplace with decorative fireplace screen

Fireplace screens are functional, though they can also be ornate. Consider using a decorative fireplace screen. There are all sorts of designs, and you can have a custom one made as well.

Overall, there are all sorts of decorating ideas for your fireplace hearth. Explore the various options.  If you are having a fireplace installed it is wise to  discuss any construction needs related to tyour deocation ideasd with your fireplace installer.  The technicians at our company are always willing to help.  Overall it is important for you to feel free to be creative.  Have fun with it. 

5 Tips For Hiring A Chimney Sweep In Washington DC

chimney sweep tips

There are a lot of cleaning that you can do around your home on your own. However, when it comes to cleaning your chimney and making sure that it is in the best condition possible, you want to rely on a professional chimney sweep in Washington DC. After seeing these signs that you need a cleaning, it is important to hire the right chimney company.  In Washington DC homeowners want companies like ours that will do the job right at a competitive price.  Here are some tips for hiring a chimney company in Washington DC.  

1. Look for a company that believes in preventing problems before they become costly.  

A good chimney sweep looks for future problems in addition to existing chimney.  Some chimney companies only look for blaring problems.  They ignore minor problems in the hopes that they can charge more when the minor issue becomes a major problem later.  The best chimney sweeps look for signs of future problems and make recommendations.  Doing so often results in lower repair costs.  It is always cheaper to address minor chimney issues before turns into major repair needs. 

2. Choose a chimney sweep that offers additional services

You want to choose a company that can help you in a variety of different areas.  Doing so allows for you to take full benefit of their expertise.  Otherwise, you will ultimately end up hiring more than one company – and there is simply no reason for this.

Some of the most common services offered include:

  • Cleaning of chimney
  • Masonry repairs
  • Flashing repair
  • Waterproofing of chimney
  • Crown and caps repair
  • Purging of smoke chamber

 

In addition to cleaning the chimney and fireplace, it is also beneficial to look at any other services that the company might offer, such as dryer vent cleaning. After all, once you find a company, it’s best to rely on them for various other services around your home as well.

3. Read Up on the Chimney Sweep Companies Reputation

You should always look into the reputation of the company.  Your research should include sources such as online reviews, testimonials and their membership with professional organizations like the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).  Past customers reviews are a powerful resource.  If a large number of homeowners in your area have good things to say about the company, you are likely to have a similar experience.  Positive reviews will help you makes sure the company that understands how to sweep a chimney in a professional manner.  Taking a little bit of time to investigate the company before you hire them will ensure that you get the best services at the best possible price.

4. Find Out About Chimney Sweep Licensing

Washington DC requires that companies who provide chimney services to be licensed.  You want to make sure that the business that you choose is licensed and insured. Being licensed shows that they are professional and have taken the proper steps to be compliant with the regulations.  If you allow a company to come in and they are not licensed or carry adequate insurance, any damage could potentially be your responsibility.

5.  Ask for a Quote

You also need to ask for a quote for the services that you require.  Pricing should be relatively straightforward. When you get into repairs and installations, the company might need to come out and provide an inspection before they can provide a quote.   Most companies charge for inspections and cleanings.  However, they should not charge a fee to provide a price quote.  Unfortunately, there are some cases where a quote cannot be given without performing a full inspection.