Material used for fireplace?

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Old 02-02-00, 08:50 PM
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We have recently purchased a moderately priced home that is approximately 60yrs old. The fireplace in the living room has been primed with some sort of grey paint, and then painted over in white. I am unsure as to the material underneath this paint. I feel like it is not just cement block because there is a decorative fan pattern in the material around the top of the material (the indentions of the grout lines are still visible). The material seems to be semi-rough stone of some sort, with very small grout lines. My question is, does aryone have any suggestions as to what this material might be-- it dosen't seem like tile (too rough), and because of the size, I don't believe it is brick. The material on the floor (hearth) is a light tan tile. I don't want to go through massive time and expense if the material is an unattractive material that is meant to be painted, however if it is nice stone, then it may be worth the time and effort. Does anyone have any suggeations as to what this material may be? Also are there any simple <grin> tests to perform that will give me some idea of what's under this paint?
 
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Old 02-03-00, 06:39 PM
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What you're describing could be ornamental plaster work, unglazed tile, tiles of stone, or possibly one of the simulated "stone or tile" applications. If it is old ornamental plaster, it may contain asbestos or lead. Asbestos was used as filler and helps to prevent cracking, white lead was used in stipple coats which creates roughness.

Possibly: if the perimeter areas seem to have rounded (convex) edges, it may be plaster. Often lines were drawn to add interest and heightened areas or appliques' were added. In the olden days these areas were white washed, today paint is used.

There any number of unglazed tile with rough surfaces. Some are stone like or textured and some are tiles of stone material. Examine the "lines" closely. Do jagged areas along the lines exist or do they look smooth and tooled? Jaggedness may indicate tile of some sort. The fan patten would almost eliminates real stone (almost). Removing the paint completely, will be tough, to say the least.

According to my time clock it was somewhere around the 50s' that the imitation stone and tile products were popular home do-it-yourself projects. The basic methods involved either moulds or stamps. Thus, if you can find "a patten repeat" among the lines one of these methods may have been used. The underlying material will be a cement type of product and may have color added (and, if I remember correctly someone invented a troweled latex composition).

One way to find out: Acetone and a rag.
 
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