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Question: Fireplace remodel
Ask The Contractors a Question:
This is a question from Angela.

I have a brick fireplace that is flush with the wall. The upper portion is drywalled. I would like to remove a portion of the upper drywall and expose more brick. It’s an exterior wall.

Here is the Question: “If I remove framing to expose the Brick, will that cause any structural damage?”

To help me answer this question, we have Angela with us…

Or click to follow along with the transcript below.

I love this fireplace question.

Angela: I saw a picture of a fireplace like mine. It had the upper drywall removed, and more brick exposed. I thought that would look nice in my room, so over this weekend we opened up the wall. There was a header on top of the fireplace. It also has a couple (2 x 4)s or (2 x 8)s coming down.

Two fireplaces side-by-side. The left is an example of brick to the ceiling. The right picture shows a fireplace with a header in place of a mantle.
Example of desired Fireplace (left) and Project from Angela’s home (right)

Todd:  Looking at this picture, that’s what you’re seeing. It is a header. Also, those two-by-fours that are coming down are supporting your roof. This is an exterior wall, so that is a total bearing wall. Yes, absolutely.

Angela: I didn’t know how much I could get away with to expose the back of that brick.

Todd:  It’s probably not a good idea to take those two short, little studs out -no. I would not take those out. Have you thought about putting a mantle above the brick and then starting brick above the mantle? Doing that would not disturb that header.

Angela: I wanted to put a real chunky Timber-like mantle but it’s pretty high.

“A good general contractor could tell you within a few minutes what you can and cannot do.”

“I strongly suggest you reach out to a professional.”

What it would take to remove any Header:

  • First, get a permit.  
  • You need a structural engineer to look at the project and give their blessing.
  • Be sure that any added weight to this fireplace is not over-bearing at it’s Footer area.
  • Reach out to a contractor or an engineer to look for possible structural issues.

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