I just finished up a project over at a neighbors the other day. This project grew out of a minor painting project. We ended up painting a bathroom, most of the kitchen, and the entry hallway. Additional work included adding a custom tile back-splash to the bath, and getting rid of the dreaded Z-brick in the kitchen. Two walls in the kitchen had the Z-brick installed over drywall, and part of one wall, installed over a cinder block fireplace wall. I have replaced Z-brick before and its pretty straight forward, you just rip out the drywall with the bricks still on it. Install new drywall and continue.
When we got to the fireplace wall we had the surprise of the Z-brick being installed over cinder block. Not a huge obstacle, but one that would require some more time and work. After a few hours with my trusty air chisel we had a Z- brick free wall. A skim coat of mastic and the wall was flat and smooth and ready for the slate tile.
The wall pictured above is one I removed a few years ago at a different project, in the more recent project the Z-brick was painted white. The white bricks were far less obnoxious, but still dated and pretty ugly. It took little effort to talk the owner into some nice slate tile, and a couple days later we ended up with a great looking project.
In the Bathroom, the custom back-splash replaced a wooden shelf that had a painted white panel storage area. Here the polished black granite matches the black granite accents I used in the living room for her pellet stove surround (I tiled a custom surround for the pellet stove a couple years ago). The other granite tile in the bath is the same tile I used for her kitchen counters a few years ago as well. Saving a few left-overs from the previous years projects is a great way to tie all the rooms together. Aside from the slate for the block wall, we only had to buy 3 more square feet of black granite, so we had some great cost savings too.
One cool thing…. as I was working on the slate wall….There was an old port in the wall for a vent that would send some warm air from the fireplace into the room. The owner said it never worked well and the fireplace is rarely used, she decided to have me eliminate the ugly grills and cover them over. To add a prize for any future remodels, we placed a “time capsule” letter in the wall. I got this idea after finding a 1970′s era newspaper in the wall when working on the bath back splash. In another 30 or 40 years we hope for someone to find our note, and see a snapshot of the past.