If you are a pretty steady DIY’er, for the most part, laying hardwood floor isn’t too difficult. The boards go over the subfloor, you put the groove and tongue ends together, tap them together, and nail the boards to the floor. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the basic process. It can get tricky if you’re laying hardwood floors around a brick fireplace.
Prior planning is important so that you get a great finished look, and so that you avoid having any unsightly gaps. This is especially important when you’re working around the base of a fireplace. It might even be best to start laying the flooring around the fireplace, then working towards the rest of the room. There are a number of ways to do this
Undercut the Hearth
One of the best options for installing hardwood floors around a brick fireplace is to undercut the hearth (if you have a raised hearth). In order to do this you’ll need an undercut saw with a diamond tipped blade.
Since most people don’t have undercut saws, you’ll probably have to rent one. Make sure you have that diamond tipped blade. You won’t be able to do the job without it.
Once you have the tool, you’re going to be making two cuts into the hearth: One cut will be right at the point where the hearth and the subfloor meet. The other cut will be at the same height as the finished floor. The area between the two cuts you made will have to be chiseled out.
Carefully, chisel out the area and clean up the mess before checking to see if the floorboards fit. After you’ve seen that that floorboards fit nicely into the area you’ve cut, you can move on.
Scribing and Cutting
If you don’t want to undercut the brick, there’s another option that you might be interested. This method involves scribing and cutting the floorboards to fit the shape of the fireplace base.
First, get your hands on a wing divider (compass). Next, make sure the pencil in the wing divider has a sharp edge. After that, grab one of the floorboards. With the floorboard you just grabbed resting up against the brick, trace the shape of the hearth onto the floorboard.
When you’re finished tracing, use a saw to cut along the line you just made. Take the wood back to the fireplace and check to see if it fits well.
The big drawback to this approach is that it may take several tries before you get the cut just right. Cutting piece after piece—going back and forth—can be really time consuming, but you may find this worth it.
Using Molding Around the Hearth
Another alternative to scribing and cutting is using molding. This is an easier option for inexperienced installers. It can be an unattractive choice in my opinion, if not done correctly. That said, you’re going to need a few things to do it right.
First, you need a piece of baseboard cut to the length of the block (hearth). Next, you need a caulking gun with concrete adhesive caulk. You’re also going to need something like bookends or blocks. These are for holding the board in place.
Apply a 1/2″ bead of caulk along the back of the baseboard (2/3″ of the way up). Firmly, push the baseboard against the brick. Put your bookends, or blocks, in place to help hold the board while the caulk dries. Leave the baseboard undisturbed for a few hours and wait for the caulk to set.
Alternatively, you can use a trim gun—nailing the baseboard into the floor, not the brick—to hold the baseboard while the caulk dries. However, the previous method is much easier. But the trim gun method is faster.
A Great Finished Look
Hardwood floors are really beautiful and they add a lot of value to your home. A brick fireplace is also really attractive looking and a great way to draw people into a room. The combination of the two will take any room to another level and give it a great finished look. With prior planning, the right tools, and the right material anyone can pull off the job seamlessly. That said, if you are unsure about an install, however, contact a professional you trust and get their opinion.