mantel installation

This Old House – Fireplace Episode Recap

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“What is this beauty right here?” Those are the words we’ve been waiting to hear all season, spoken by This Old House host Kevin O’Connor as he admires our Normandy mantel surround. If you’re as proud of what you make as we are, then you’ll understand our elevated heart rate and the shiver down our spine.

Yes, this was the episode where many months of preparing the chimney and firebox of the Arlington Arts & Crafts house finally paid off. By the end of the show, our gorgeous mantel surround still has blue electrical tape on it, but viewers can tell how great it’s going to look. As host Kevin says to mason Mark McCullough, “I’ll tell you what, that looks awesome already, Mark, and it’s only going to look better when it’s all cleaned up.” We couldn’t agree more!

Shiplap siding

The season is nearing its completion, and so is the project house. In this episode, contractor Tom Silva explains shiplap siding. This type of siding was originally used on barns, ceilings, walls, and other places where boards could get wet and shrink over time. The shiplap joint is made to keep joints from opening up, even after shrinkage. Tom and Kevin go to work on the attic, covering the walls with tarpaper, and then putting up the shiplap boards.

shiplap siding

Porch and Entryway

We’ve watched the gracefully curved porch evolve over the last few episodes. As Kevin notes, “We spent a lot of time and effort making this porch a real statement on the front of the house.” Since the porch sits quite a bit higher than the roadway, the crew is putting in brick walkways and a second set of granite stairs halfway between porch and road.

Meanwhile, back at the quarry

TOH visited a marble quarry in Vermont in a previous episode, to see where the Arlington house’s kitchen counters would come from. This time, homeowner Emily Deldon is there to supervise the cutting. Kevin points out that homeowners don’t usually do this, but Emily says, “We just want to make sure we find the best place on the slab before they cut.”

cutting slab

Kevin tells her she’s in good hands with stone fabricator Roberto Martinez, who has already been to the house and made a template of their kitchen island. “Take a look at the slab and tell me what part you like better,” he tells Emily. They try arranging the template two different ways. Once Emily picks one, her decision is final. The marble goes straight to the table saw, and new countertops are born.

To paint or not to paint

In an earlier episode, Emily and Nick decided to paint the oak in the living room white. But after trying this out on one board, they came to their senses and decided instead to restore the oak. It sure looks pretty and golden. Painter Mauro Henrique is using 150 grade sandpaper to sand it down, then giving the oak a matte finish.

Revisiting the fireplace

fireplace installation

The fireplace came at the end of the episode. “We have followed the construction of this fireplace for months,” Kevin says. And we’ve been right there with him. Now finally the day has come when we see how perfect our mantel surround looks in the Arlington house. And we’d like to thank This Old House for helping us share the products we’re so proud of with the world.

fireplace installation


amhurst mantel

We ship the surrounds in pieces. “Gosh, this is so heavy. So this is the real deal here,” Kevin says as he tries to move just one piece of the surround. Yes, our work is heavy, and heavy-duty. We know that Emily and Nick, their little girl and their huge Newfoundland dog will enjoy their fireplace for many years to come. And that’s what it’s all about to us – having a cozy place to relax and make memories with your family.

mantel installation

Give us a call

If you’re inspired to make changes to your old or new house’s fireplace, we’re here for you. Give us a call and we’ll help find your perfect mantel surround.

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