Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thinking About Refacing? Or Resurfacing?
Think Again...

"Hey, Mom? Why does Dad say you can't paint brick?"

An old friend of mine, Greg, called today with a question about fireplace refacing. “I’m thinking about going Southwestern,” he said. “Maybe sort of a Santa Fe stucco look, kind of like earth tones, sort of like adobe but not adobe, you know what I’m talking about?”

I wasn’t actually sure. I thought for a minute about his living room and how it was already furnished. “Your fireplace is brick,” I said. “Isn’t it?”

“Yeah, and I’m sick of it. The last guy who lived here must have burned his furniture in it or something. I’ve got soot stains almost to the ceiling.”

I laughed, but only because I’ve seen the exact same thing a thousand times. “Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Are you wanting to do a total room makeover, or are you just trying to cover up some stains? You just got a new sofa last spring, right?”

“Yeah, the wife picked it out. It’s sort of mid-century modern, I guess.”

“And the rest of the room—You have a lot of stainless steel and chrome. You’ve got a leather armchair, don’t you?”

“Yeah, why?’

“Nothing,” I said. “But I just wonder if you really want to do stucco. And so you know, what you’re talking about is resurfacing, not refacing.”

“There’s a difference?”

“Not a huge one—you see the terms used interchangeably—but technically refacing is when you put, say, stone over an existing hearth. When you put up stucco or plaster you’re resurfacing.”

“Huh,” he said. “And you don’t think it’s a good idea, do you?”

“It’s not necessarily a bad idea,” I said. “But in your case, I’m just not sure why you want to go to so much trouble. Why not clean the brick, see how that looks, and then, if you still can’t stand it, try painting it.”

There was a long pause. Then I heard my friend whisper something to his wife, Debbie. Finally, he handed her the phone. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said. “I’ve been telling him we should paint for three weeks. And all he ever says is ‘Honey, you don’t paint brick.’ Have you heard that before?”

“More times than I can count,” I said. “And it’s total nonsense.”

“I knew it,” she said. “But I do have one more question. You think you could come by sometime this week and help us pick a color?”

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