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Fireplace remodel: swapping bricks for tiles

Two must-have tools for removing old facade, hearth

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Q: I have a question regarding my old fireplace, built in the 1920s with a brick facade that was added in the 1950s. The brick facade has been painted white and is as ugly as can be. The fireplace also has a threshold that is 2 inches high, 5 feet, 2 inches wide, and 1 foot, 9 inches deep. I want to remove the brick surround and the threshold, freeing the fireplace of some of its weight, and then refinish the facade with either tile or stone squares. I plan to refinish the threshold in the same material, except that this will now be flush with the rest of the floor so as to add more continuous space to the room. How does one go about removing these bricks? Can we carefully remove the brick ourselves? And, if so, what tools do we need? My husband and son are ready to tackle the project. A: Of course a picture is worth a thousand words. So when our reader offered to send a photo along, we gladly accepted. We were also curious about the reference to the weight of the facade a...