Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Welcome to Our Parlor, Part III

I was thinking the other day that I hadn't posted any updates on the house lately. Well, there are a few good reasons for that. First, Byron began teaching at a new school, and when he comes home ripping up parquet flooring isn't the first thing on his to-do list. Second, I began homeschooling and have been trying to get into a rhythm with that. Third, I've been attacked by persimmons. And finally, we really can't do a whole lot until Other House sells.

However, Byron did build a new hearthpad back in August for our Woodstock Fireview woodstove. One of the best stoves out there, it's made of double-walled soapstone, which is an amazing material that emits the heat slowly, and it has a catalytic combuster that actually burns the smoke! We love wood heat and we love not paying high monthly bills for winter energy use. And though we're not by any means into deforestation, trees are a renewable resource, and sometimes they have to come down despite our best efforts. A few years ago Byron became pretty adept at scoring free wood and has stockpiled quite a bit.

By the way, did you know there's a federal tax credit until the end of the year if you buy a new woodstove?

On to the hearthpad. Black slate over Wonderboard (cement board), this hearthpad was very easy to install. Byron was ecstatic that he didn't have to grout; the tiles were a true 12x12 and he butted them against each other as he placed them onto the thinset (plaster-like material that binds the tiles to the surface underneath). Here are some step-by-step photos. Keep in mind that a hearth pad really needs to be built to suit the stove you choose, as different stoves have different hearth pad size and clearance requirements.

First, Byron chiseled out the old hearthpad and cut the Wonderboard to fit over that. Wonderboard has an R rating (no, that does not mean you have to be over 17 to buy it). It's fire rated. Note that Duroc, which we thought at first was the way to go, is now made with cellulose fiber, which is flammable. Not a good idea for a hearth pad. Anyway, as you can tell from the ash pan, this fireplace was fun to clean out, too.

Per Woodstock's requirements, he placed a piece of steel over the plywood and then placed the next piece of Wonderboard over the steel, to complete the base of the hearthpad.

Byron remembered his grandfather telling his dad to start tiling a room from the middle. In the same spirit, Byron marked the center of the hearthpad and centered the first piece of slate there. He used thinset and a ridged trowel to create a rough surface on which to place the slate.

Making progress.

Our finished hearthpad! We'll eventually put simple, white trim back around the fireplace, and are planning on using a couple of the old joists we salvaged from this room as a mantle. Those old timbers are loaded with character: the wood is aged and we specifically chose pieces that have one rough, uneven edge. We'll also re-install the heart pine flooring and refinish it. By the way, we're looking for more heart pine, preferably salvaged from an old structure. We're having second thoughts about ripping out the flooring in the loft of the barn. And we'd like to get out of the Ghetto Stage of our renovations by some time next year. So if you have any leads, let me know!

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