Monday, April 27, 2009

Fireplace Surround Progress

Here are the finishing steps and the current progress;
1. Strip the forms
2. Thick slurry coat to fill the large bug holes
3. Quick grind 50 grit through 200 grit (about 30 minutes)
4. Light slurry coat
5. Quick grind quick grind 200 grit through 400 grit (about 30 minutes)
6. Spot slurry as places that are still low
7. Finish grind at 400 grit (about 30 minutes)
8. Seal and wax
9. Lightly rub with steel wool to remove the shine
Really this project hasn't taken much time or money. The mold only took a few hours to build and get in place. The concrete was 6 bags of quikcrete at $4.50 each, 3 gallons of latex at $10 each, $10 worth of pigment, and about $10 for reinforcing steel. The concrete placement only took about 4 hours from buying the materials to setting up, placing, and clean up. The real cost was the dry grinding setup since most people are against wet grinding in their living rooms. Although if you are planning on two or more project, the speed and cleanliness of the dry setup is well worth the money.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finishing the Concrete Fireplace

After curing under plastic and wet towels for four days the first slurry coat was applied to fill in the largest bug holes and honeycombing. A light grind will knock down any high places. A second slurry will fill in any places that still need it.
Since there isn't a good way to wet polish concrete inside, the fireplace will be dry polished. The dry polishing setup uses a low-speed grinder with hot-pressed pads and a dust shield. This method is much faster and cleaner than the wet method.
Starting on the front corner.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Concrete Fireplace Surround Reveal

After two days of curing in the mold, under plastic, and under wet towels the forms were carefully removed. As expected there were a few places that had honeycombing and need some slurry. The larger proportions make the fireplace stand out better.
Some honeycombing under the braces used to hold the mold together.

The concrete after a batch of colored slurry. The slurry was made using the same proportions of cement and pigment held together with just enough latex.

It is a little splotchy as the slurry dries. Another coat or two of slurry will be required to completely fill in all of the bug holes and honeycombing. A light grind will smooth the surface back out.

Placing the Concrete Fireplace Surround

The fireplace surround had reinforcing steel mesh embedded 1-inch into the surface. Since it is such a long piece (about 7 feet) which is restrained by the existing fireplace, the steel helps prevent shrinkage cracking. Even though the carpet here will get replaced it was covered with cardboard. Integrally mixed concrete pigment will stain pretty much everything.
The setup in the garage. The fireplace took 3.3 cubic feet of concrete so two different batches were required. The mixture was a modified quikcrete mixture containing lower w/c, latex, high range water reducer, viscosity modifier, fibers, and pigment.
Same mixer as last time, still too small. Each batch was 1.65 cubic feet.

The mixture was self-consolidating to minimize honeycombing against the small gap between the mold and the fireplace.

The surface was hard-troweled and covered with plastic.

And covered with wet towels for a couple days.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Concrete Fireplace Surround

The next concrete at home project is replacing this beige tile fireplace surround with a concrete one. The surround will be flat black concrete and be a little thicker and taller than the current version. Afterward the gas log will be removed and replaced with a low profile burner and crushed glass. The tile was held on with a combination of mortar and construction adhesive. Either way the underlying material is very rough and will create a great bond with the new concrete.
Pretty standard melamine construction. This mold used (2) 24"x48" pieces which cost about $20.
The new concrete will be about 1 1/2" out from the original. Because of the small clearance the concrete will have a maximum aggregate size of 3/8" to allow placement.
Since the floor is concrete and I did not want to drill into the slab, the mold has feet out from the front and back. Silicone adhesive was used to seal the mold to the concrete and glue it into place. It will be fine as long as the concrete is not vibrated too much during placement. In order to accomplish this, the concrete for this placement will be self consolidating.
Due to the upcoming volume of pieces that will be created this summer I have started modifying a prebagged quikcrete mixture for various applications. By adding additional supplementary cementitious materials, admixtures, and fibers I have created mixtures both for inside use and outside. Once the testing matrix is complete I will post the results of my research.