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building a brick hearth

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by tahoejeff77, Oct 11, 2010.

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  1. tahoejeff77

    tahoejeff77 New Member

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    I'm in the midst of building a brick hearth for my small woodstove. The stove has been used for around 12 years in the corner of my living room as a secondary heat source...but it does seem we have a fire going pretty much every day when it gets cold.
    I have built the framing with 2x4's, covered with 3/4" plywood and 1/2" durock. My original plan was to put down some kind of tile. Further online reading has told me that I would need a second layer of durock to achieve the .446 R value my stove requires.

    In talking with the boss (my wife) we have decided we would rather put down red brick. It won't crack or scratch like tile will, and easily puts me over the R value. Although the stove instructions say it is far enough away from my combustible walls, I plan to put up heat shields with the 1" spacing behind, and will buy a heat shield for my single wall stovepipe.
    I have never worked with brick and mortar. Google searches don't turn up any decent help videos. It sounds like I mix some mortar and trowel a thin layer on the durock, then set the bricks into it with 1/2" between each brick for more mortar.

    Can I put the mortar between bricks right away, or does the stuff under have to cure?
    Is the mortar under the bricks required/recommended?
    Will a plain red brick from Menards be ok, or is there a special brick and mortar for high temp use?
    Are bricks hard to break when I can't fit a full brick?
    Do I need to alternate each row so the seams are not all in the same place?
    Do I need to be careful that I don't get mortar on top of the bricks, or does it clean up easily?

    Sorry for all the questions. I guess I plan ahead too much.

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  2. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    Another question I have to add to your list: Does the layer of brick actually add to your R-value, I sorta don't think it does, but I could very well could be wrong.
  3. tahoejeff77

    tahoejeff77 New Member

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  4. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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  5. jlow

    jlow Feeling the Heat

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    http://picasaweb.google.com/jlowry10/HearthPad#

    Is this what you are doing? I built this for my Equinox. We wanted a rustic look. We did use mortar. It is sort of like grouting tile except I used a wire brush to keep the mortar from hardening on the brick. We put 4 coats of high gloss sealant to give it a more cleanable surface.
  6. Reaganomics

    Reaganomics Member

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    All of your questions are valid but you have no idea what your doing at this point and it going to cost a lot more to pull it apart and re-do it.
    I would hire a mason to do it right for you.
    There is quite an art to doing this as I just had one done.
    I could email to you pics if needed.

    Cheers
  7. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    This was my first attempt at brick work. (obviously there was other finishing to do, but the brick was complete)

    [​IMG]

    I'd say that brick work is no more or less difficult than tile. Like anything, pay attention to detail and if you have some decent common sense, you'll do fine. (i.e. don't mix up 40lb of mortar at one time, do research, find the type of mortar that will work best for you, spend the 25 bux on the 2 trowels and mixer for your drill you'll need, etc)

    While there definitely is an art to doing masonry work when it comes to very fancy things, basic installations are extremely straightforward. The only thing the pro will have on you is he's faster.

    Besides, here's the scary mess that the pro left for me to find (one of many reasons why I do my own work anymore)

    [​IMG]

    I'd try it in a heartbeat. I could screw it up 2x and reinstall at 50 cents a brick and still be money ahead from hiring someone and would have learned something in the process.

    I'd say, it depends on your skill, determination, and what it is you want exactly.

    Also, you can find videos on youtube. Perhaps not of your exact application, but ones that will show you some good basics for bricklaying.

    pen
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Yikes! That "pro" shot is down right scary.
  9. tahoejeff77

    tahoejeff77 New Member

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    Thanks for the pictures jlow and pen. jlow, that is similar to what I have in mind. Did you put mortar under the bricks, or just between?
    I will look at a few youtube videos on laying brick if there is nothing unique to doing it for a woodstove.
  10. jlow

    jlow Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Sterling Heights, Michigan
    I used the same thinset that you would for ceramic tile just to keep it from sliding. I used Micor and backerboard to get the proper r-Value. I had the city inspector approve it before I laid the brick. In the photos the brick had not been sealed yet, hence, the dull look. I butted the bricks as tight as possible. I will take a current photo this evening as I try to replace my side door (separate post).

    Jeff
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