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Removing a fireplace

Removing a fireplace is a good way of liberating a bit of extra floor space in a room where the fires are no longer in use – for instance, where coal fires have been banned or where you’ve fitted a central heating system that doesn’t rely on a fire to heat the boiler. It may also be necessary if you want to replace an ugly modern fireplace with one that’s more in keeping with the period the house was built in.

You’ll need:

  • A club hammer
  • A bolster chisel
  • Safety goggles
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • A crowbar or other sturdy lever
  • A screwdriver
  • Wedges

It’s a fairly mucky and heavy job, so you’ll want to put plenty of dustsheets down. It’d be a good idea to get the chimney swept as well!

First, check to see whether the fire surround is built on top of the hearth. Usually, the superimposed cosmetic hearth is fitted after the surround. If the surround was built on top of the hearth, you’ll need to remove it first.

To remove the hearth, use the club hammer and bolster to break the seal between the cosmetic hearth and the constructional hearth below. Wedges can help here. Then lever the cosmetic hearth free and (with an assistant) lift it out. Mind your backs – it’ll be heavy!

Fire surrounds are normally installed by screwing them to the wall – they’re fitted with metal lugs for that purpose. You’ll need to chip away the plaster around the perimeter of the surround to locate the lugs, then clear away the plaster from around the lugs and undo the screws. The chances are that they may be stuck, so it may be necessary to give them a squirt of penetrating oil and leave them for a few hours or overnight. If they still won’t budge, you’ll have to drill out the heads.

Once that’s done, you can then remove the surround:

  • Brick and stone surrounds can be dismantled piece by piece, breaking the mortar joints with the bolster.
  • Wooden surrounds are often screwed on to battens fixed to the chimney breast. The screws may be concealed; locate them, chisel out the filler or wooden plug concealers and unscrew the surround.
  • Marble surrounds are made in sections; remove the mantel shelf first, then the lintel, then the jambs.

After you’ve removed the fireplace, you’ll need to close up the opening! You can read how to do that in our follow-up article:
Repair Wizard: Covering a fireplace

8 Responses to “Removing a fireplace”

  1. Ann Nevill

    Brilliant advice and information. Just what I was looking for. I want to remove old 50’s tiled fireplace to give more floor space (apart from the fact the fireplace is really ugly!) and your article told me everything I needed to know – including tools required. Thank you.

  2. HouseWiz

    Glad you found it useful, Ann – thanks for taking the time to comment! Hope your own fireplace removal goes well.

  3. Melanie

    ThanQ so much, im a woman so things like this are beyond my capabilities, haha, well im looking on the site now, will start the job soon, im lucky that this fire place is just a feature and not surrounding an actual fire, so i guess that will be less work. The info on this site is great from the tools needed to what to expect. Wish me luck :))

  4. Melanie

    Im just off to find out how to replace scurting boards, cos once the fireplace has been removed there will be a gap….Ive got laminate down too so that will have to be pulled up + carpeted, huge job for little ole me…Ermm i might see if there is any offer of help, hehee…Damsel in distress!!

  5. natti

    This is great I got an old ugly fireplace too ! im wondering how much it would be to hire someone to remove it?

  6. Tony Fewkes

    Please can you advise how to gain access to the water tank and pipe connection at the rear of my coal fire, the fire has a cast iron back plate to direct fire draw, and also has a air damper under the grate to draw the fire, ihave no date but think it it around 25 years old.Water tank not required and drained down.

  7. bob bracken

    Straightforward, no fuss, and very useful tips and advice, thanks………….

  8. colin owens

    when taking the fireplace down as indicated what precautions have to be taken for the stack above the roof

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