Walling up our fireplace


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Old 08-18-13, 12:04 PM
J
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Walling up our fireplace

We're right in the middle of remodeling our living room. Said living room contains a fireplace that has never worked properly since we moved in several years ago. My wife and father-in-law have extensive experience with fireplaces, so we're quite sure it's not user error. Subsequently, we've decided to wall in the fireplace during this remodel. Ideally we'd remove the fireplace and chimney, but that involves an amount of time and money that we do not have.

Our initial plan was just to build a half-wall and two short half-side-walls the height of the fireplace, thus rendering a sort of built-in-shelf along the top of the boxed-in fireplace. We're now talking about extending the side-walls all the way to the ceiling, and then building additional shelves in the remaining wall height above the fireplace.

One important fact is that we are not re-doing our ceiling during this remodel. Also, the flooring in the room is hardwood.

How should I attach these walls to the floor and ceiling? For the floor, can I just use extra-long screws and set them right on top of the hardwood floor? For ceiling, since we're not re-doing our ceiling I really don't want to open up the ceiling anywhere. Would it be feasible to only anchor the side walls at the top on the side that butts up against the wall the fireplace is in?

The side walls will only be 8"-9" wide, because the fireplace doesn't extend out in front of the main wall very much.

Here's a side view of the area in question.

 
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Old 08-18-13, 12:46 PM
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Based on the direction that the hardwood floor planks, they are set perpendicular to the floor joist which are set east to west in the picture you have attached. This is most likely the same direction as the ceiling joists, therefore you have nailing surfaces every 16" the whole length of the room to attach your fake wall.

Fireplaces, whether functional or not, usually add a lot of character to a room. It certainly can be dressed up in thousands of ways rather than walling it off. Most all fireplaces are purely ornamental, die hards use then to heat the house, I set up a one each thanksgiving for atmosphere, but most all fireplaces remain idle for the most part. I would be more inclined to pretty up whats there as opposed to the wall off.

Hard to believe you have difficulty using the fireplace. Is a pretty simple design and works well if a proper draft is created. Your house may be too tightly built and not enough fresh air is getting into the house to support a proper draft to carry the smoke up the chimney. Try cracking a window and stoking one last fire to see if that is the issue.
 
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Old 08-18-13, 02:01 PM
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Your house may be too tightly built and not enough fresh air is getting into the house to support a proper draft to carry the smoke up the chimney. Try cracking a window...
We've tried that on numerous occasions (with varying amounts of the window being open) and it doesn't have any significant impact. As I mentioned, my wife grew up with a fireplace, and my father-in-law has been building fires in fireplaces for decades. They still use their fireplace every winter. He brought some of his best wood down one winter and built the fire himself, and it was still problematic.

I understand what you're saying about the fireplace adding character to the room, and up until recently our plan was just to redesign the look of the fireplace for that reason. Once we decided to tear the wallboard off, though, the possibility opened up to cover up the fireplace. Wall space is at a premium in this room with 4 kids, even though it is a good-sized room. We've talked about it a lot and have decided that converting the fireplace into livable wall-space is what we want to do. For example, with it walled off we can put furniture - bookshelves, chairs, a couch, etc. - in front of it. Technically, yes, you can place any of those things in front of an open fireplace as well, but it wouldn't really look right.
 
 

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