It has been quiet in the Troy household since the New Year. In many ways that is a blessing but leaves little inspiration for blogging purposes. So today I'm bringing you "Do It Yourself Lesson #27" in a series of DIY lessons starting after #26 and ending before #28.
This lesson explains how you can change a wooden fire surround for a stone fire surround for less than £35. In today's economic climate this is a valuable lesson.
When we bought our house there was one feature that we did not like. Our living room featured a coal effect gas fire in a large black fireplace with a dark wood surround. As a picture paints a thousand words and to save me typing a longer description, here is a photo of said fireplace:-
Maybe you like it. Obviously the people who had installed it must have liked it (?) but Mrs Troy and I didn't. It went on our list of "things to change at some stage in the future". After we had settled in we started to look at new fireplaces. The gas fire itself is fine and we were not fussed about changing it. Even the black mantle was okay, it was just the wooden surround that was not to our particular taste. We quickly discovered that fire mantles came in a variety of widths and heights. At this point I should explain that Troy is more an ideas man than a practical DIYer. In fact in our household I concentrate on concepts, ideas and the finances and Mrs Troy does the practical things. Hence when improving our garden (see earlier posting) I was more the designer and Mrs Troy the digger of borders. Even when it came to having a family I made the initial contribution but Mrs Troy delivered the project. It took her nine months, but I digress. The problem we found was that if a new fire mantle was larger than the existing one then we would have to make adjustments to the skirting board. This could get messy and involve lots of redecoration. Or if the new one was smaller there would be a gap left in the skirting board. This again would test our DIY ability. All the fire surrounds we saw were either too big or too small. The project was "on hold".
Then one day whilst surfing the internet I came across some "stone effect paint". It was especially developed for wooden fire surrounds. At less than £35 for the undercoat and top coat (2 tins) I thought this was worth a gamble, better than spending well in excess of £1,000. So I bought the product online and it arrived the next day. Mrs Troy and I together put on the undercoat which was a strange goey mess. As I had to be away from home for a few days after that I left Mrs Troy to finish the project, whilst I phoned for regular progress reports (being a diligent staff manager). The top, stone-effect coat has to be put on by building up about four layers whilst allowing each layer to dry between applications. Mrs Troy reported that she was pleased with the outcome. On my return home I was greeted with this:
We were both very happy with the outcome. It is much less dominant than before. When we had visitors we would ask them if they liked our new stone fireplace. Oh what fun we had when we told them it was wooden! I feel the £35 gamble paid off very well. Without my internet surfing I suspect we would still be looking at our old firesurround.