How to remove a fireplace hearth
For some, old fireplace hearths add a wonderful touch of charm to a room. For others, they’re an eyesore that they want gone. If the latter applies to you, keep reading this guide to find out how to remove a fireplace hearth.
For some, old fireplace hearths add a wonderful touch of charm to a room. For others, they’re an eyesore that may appear old fashioned and unappealing. If the latter applies to you, keep reading this guide to find out how to remove a fireplace hearth.
We’ll look at the basic process of removing a fireplace hearth, whether it’s a brick concrete, marble or stone hearth that you have in your home. The job is fairly straightforward, but it can get very messy and may involve some heavy lifting.
If you’re already a little nervous at the thought of ripping out the hearth yourself, worrying about the dust and mess, fret not. You can hire a professional to do it for you and save you time, effort and hassle.
3 top tips for how to remove a fireplace hearth
Before we look at the step-by-step guide to removing a fireplace hearth, here are a few handy top tips we think it’s important to know before you get started:
1. Clear the room
It might seem like a fairly small job, but removing a fireplace hearth can dislodge large amounts of built-up soot, dust and debris from your chimney flue – which can make a real mess. Before you start attacking the hearth, move furniture out of the room (or as far from the hearth as possible), roll back the carpet away from the hearth, and cover everything with dust sheets.
You might also want to sweep the chimney before you try to remove the fireplace hearth. You can hire a chimney sweep to do it for you for a relatively low cost – find out more in our chimney sweep cost guide.
2. Prepare your tools
As with any home improvement project, it’s important to prepare your tools for removing a fireplace hearth. You’ll need the following equipment:
- Dust mask
- Safety goggles
- Thin plywood or thick cardboard (to protect the wall and floor around the hearth)
- Hammer or rubber mallet
- Bolster chisel
- Wooden wedges
- Dustpan & brush and/or broom
- Vacuum cleaner
- Rubble bags or you may wish to hire a skip
3. Put your safety first
It’s important to keep yourself safe and protected whenever you’re removing a fireplace hearth. The job can often create a lot of dust and sharp debris, so always make sure you wear protective gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask. And make sure the bolster chisel you use is fitted with a handguard.
What is a fireplace hearth?
The hearth is the official name for the area of the ground in front of a fireplace – otherwise known as the floor of the fireplace. As you’d expect, fireplace hearths are always made from fire-resistant material, and most hearths are made from brick, tile, cement or natural stone (such as marble or granite).
How to remove a brick fireplace hearth
Once you’ve got your protective equipment in place, the process of removing a brick hearth is pretty simple:
- Lay the plywood or cardboard to protect the surrounding wall(s) and floor.
- Start chipping away the hearth using your hammer and chisel to break the bond between the brick hearth and the constructional hearth underneath (usually flush with the floorboards).
- As you start to see a crack appearing, knock in the wooden wedges to help support the hearth and lever it up.
- In many cases, brick fireplace hearths often come away from the floor in one piece – in which case you can simply lift the hearth and drag it out of position.
- If your brick hearth breaks up into pieces while you’re chiselling, you’ll need to keep going and removing the hearth a piece at a time.
- Once you’ve removed all the pieces of the hearth, use your broom and/or dustpan and brush to sweep up the majority of the dust and debris.
- Finish off by using your vacuum to remove all remaining dust and dirt from the floor.
Top tip: When you start chiselling, start at the back to break the bond between the hearth and the wall.
How to remove stone fireplace hearth
You can actually follow the same steps as removing a brick fireplace hearth, as the process is the same for removing the stone as it is for brick.
How to remove a concrete fireplace hearth
A concrete fireplace hearth is typically one of the most time-consuming types of hearth to remove, especially in older houses where the concrete hearth maybe 1-2 feet thick.
Instead of a hammer and chisel, you’ll need to use a sledgehammer to break up the concrete. Alternatively, you can use an SDS rotary drill and an SDS chisel. Due to the nature of concrete, you’ll have to break up the concrete hearth into pieces and remove them bit by bit.
How to remove tile from fireplace hearth
Some fireplace hearths are simply a layer of tiles laid on top of the constructional hearth. If this is the case in your home, you just need to lever the tiles up using a bolster chisel. The mortar used under the tiles in most tiled hearths is generally pretty weak, so it should be a fairly quick and easy job to do for the whole hearth – depending on the size of the hearth and the individual tiles.
How to remove a marble fireplace hearth
When it comes to removing a marble fireplace hearth, you’re going to need some strength (and most likely multiple people) to complete the job. Marble is a very heavy stone, and a large marble hearth can be extremely heavy – too heavy for an average person to lift.
If you need to remove a marble fireplace, we often recommend hiring professional tradespeople to do it for you, as it can be a potentially dangerous job for an inexperienced DIY enthusiast.
Can you remove a raised hearth?
You can indeed. As with any hearth, to remove a raised hearth you simply need to break the bond between the hearth and the wall, and the hearth and the constructional hearth underneath. Being raised, it will simply take longer and may require extra effort to remove the raised hearth due to the quantity of material.
Can a fireplace be removed?
Absolutely, and many homes have their fireplaces removed to create a more versatile space. To determine how much it costs to remove a fireplace, check out our guides to fireplace removal costs and gas fire removal costs.
How do you remove tile from the front of a fireplace?
To remove a tile from the front of a fireplace, use a hammer and bolster chisel and gently chip away at the edge of the tile where you can see the mortar. The mortar should be quite weak, so the tile should start to come away from the front of the fireplace with relative ease after a few taps.