Sunday, October 5, 2014

Cardinal House :: How our Fireback was installed

'Winter' - the Fireback at Cardinal House kitchen

Early in the design process of Cardinal House I came across several images of kitchens with a fireback installed above the cook top area. I loved the look and started to search for one for our new kitchen. What I discovered is that it is more than just the aesthetics, these heavy cast iron panels come with a story.
Some of the earliest Fireback's date back to the 15th century and were placed at the back of the fireplace to radiate heat forward. The early designs were of simple everyday objects but then they began to display royal coats of arm. Throughout the years pictorial designs and stories developed on the cast iron forms.

Unfortunately, there really are not many fireback's available in Canada, many company's I looked at in the U.S. were shipping in from Europe or producing reproductions. Fireback's were more commonly used in England and Europe.

I found several fireback's on 1stDibs that I liked, and while searching for more information I discovered that sold the pieces direct.
Richard and I poured over the details on size, pattern story, age, and condition. We narrowed it down to a half dozen pieces we felt would work for us and ordered one online. The fireback {a mere 100 pounds} was shipped from The Netherlands to Canada ........ in four days. 

We decided to put the first fireback we ordered {Fruits of Summer} above our fireplace mantle on the lanai. It is currently put aside while we complete the wood burning fireplace and mantle. We ordered another fireback for the stove area. The piece is called 'Winter' and shows Old Man winter gathering wheat with Putti.
Some of the cast iron panels are patina brown, somewhat rust in appearance - these are generally an antique. The black firebacks have been treated with stove polish. You can take a patina cast iron to black stove polish finish, but you cannot take a black finish back to patina.
We love both of the pieces and it was size and colour that made our decision to switch things around and put The Winter over the stove.

Fruits of Summer

So now came the difficult part - how to install the fireback above the stove. I searched the net and didn't find details anywhere. has recently added a description on installations for both the fireplace and for over the stove HERE 

One of the contractors came up with a plan to install and took on the task. ** First let me say - this worked for our installation. We do not in any way suggest that this is safe/workable for all applications. Check with a certified contractor for installation.

How our fireback was installed:
1.  Additional framing was inserted horizontally between the studs to offer support.

2.  During the drywall installation the GC screwed a template of the fireback into the studs. He added a wood brace {screwed in} just under the bottom of the fireback template - this would help support the fireback through the process.

3.  He then 'PL'd' the back of the fireback to the template.

4.  Screws were put in all around the fireback edge to help support the weight. The screws are driven into the studs and template.

5.  After a few days the GC checked the security of the fireback and screws. The screws stayed in place but were slightly tightened in so that the edge of the fireback was tucked under the edge  of the screw head.

6.  Time for the tiled back splash. The tiler tucked the Cararra marble subway style tiles and grout around the fireback edges. A tidy run of clear silicone was run around the edges of the fireback.

Richard and I love the fireback in our kitchen, it compliments the other distinct pieces we have had installed for our pantry wall. It's amazing to stand at the stove and know that the cast iron plate was once in the back of a fireplace in France {our two were} approximately 150 years ago.

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