Removing a hearth slab and replacing with floorboards

We're often asked whether it's possible to remove a hearth which has been left behind or covered over. This article describes the process, taking as an example an occasion when we recently did this.

Step 1 – Removing the Cement and Rubble

Team member Tom drills out the old hearth

Old hearths generally have some support under them, such as a cement base which was the case here. It's necessary to remove this to place support joists for the floorboards. We began by breaking up the cement with an SDS drill into smaller, more manageable pieces and removing it.

Step 2 – Installing New Floor Joists

Having removed all the old cement we now turn our attention to providing a platform to rest the new floorboards on. On this occasion, we installed two joist hangers to provide a stable and long lasting platform for the floor. Tom's years of training as a carpenter means he has a good eye for what's needed.

We use reclaimed floorboards which we carefully select to match the pre-existing boards as closely as possible, both in terms of colour and width. There's surprising amount of variation between boards used through the years, experience has helped us know where we'll find the best match. The new boards are staggered into the old before securely fixing.

Installation of joist hangers

Step 3 – Sanding and Finishing

From this point, we picked up with our regular preparation, sanding and finishing process. This levelled the boards so that the final result was a smooth, continuous floor.