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Need design help with exposed brick.
November 13, 2012 in Design Dilemma
I'm remodeling a turn of the century Denver victorian that was on it's deathbed. I've exposed a couple of the brick walls to give it that lofty industrial feel to it. I'm also running new exposed spiral ductwork for the same effect. Because of preexisting foundation issues(which I've fixed) my floors are pretty uneven. I've got a lot of #3 Red Oak hardwoods I want to run throughout the downstairs and stairs leading up to the second floor. My Hardwood guys are telling me to keep it it's natural color to hide the fluctuations in the floor.

So here's my question. I really like the chrome look of the exposed ductwork and natural steel color in my hand rail. Do you think I should paint the steel and ductwork maybe a brown color for contrast or leave them as pictured?

Sorry, i thought i had a better picture of the ductwork. The part above the door have a soffit and then be exposed. But at least you get a picture of the brick, rail, and duct. Just imagine a notty very light hardwood floor. Thanks.
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Emily Hurley
This looks like such a fun project, like a steampunk victorian.

If you are going with the exposed brick and metal railings, I say go for it and keep the metal color, at least to start. If you end up feeling the need to tone it down, you can always paint later.
November 13, 2012 at 9:22AM     
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Nancy Hehmann
I love the steel color of the handrail particularly.
November 13, 2012 at 9:32AM     
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You have a good opportunity for some fun here. The rail is perfect. don't change a thing. For a little inspiration check out The Edison in LA. http://bettyvine.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/bar-club-recommendation-the-edison/
November 13, 2012 at 10:58AM     
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Keep the railing steel, its a great look but even more importantly, painting it will just require maintenance later.
November 13, 2012 at 11:10AM     
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HI --- The raw materials industrial look is very in right now so I would keep everything in that style . I am just not so sure on the exposed duct work, I think maybe that will be best covered up or painted . leave it for now and as your project gets further along and more people comment then you will know what to do. Love to see finished project if you post .
November 13, 2012 at 11:59AM     
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By Design EK
There is nothing wrong with havine steel for your railings, and other items, and having the ductwork painted black or a charcoal. In this case your duct work looks a little big to me for the space and i think painting it dark would minimize it and still give you the look you want. One of my good friends is an awesome Interior Designer in the Denver area and she does a lot of architectural work if you need help I will be happy to give you her number. Love that you rescued a Victorian, that period is my first love!
November 13, 2012 at 1:30PM     
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I would paint the ductwork, so that it better blends in, but please don't paint the railings! They are beautiful as is. Good luck, and great job so far!
November 13, 2012 at 2:07PM     
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Wow. thanks everybody. Great advice.
November 13, 2012 at 4:25PM   
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K.O.H. Construction Corporation
In our commercial world and some residential the duct is typically painted. If you keep the railing natural make sure the apply a coating designed for metal. Rust could be an issue if not protected. I like darker stained floors with this look.
November 13, 2012 at 4:47PM     
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You can't hide the ductwork, so instead of trying to make it blend in (which is physically impossible, because even if you do a colour match the colours will shift with light, surface finish, etc), I'd encourage it to stand out, and let the elegant industrial architectural lines speak for themselves.

Love the earlier comment about steampunk!
November 14, 2012 at 5:58AM   
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I have done similar work with steel railing and stone. Painting the railing is difficult to do on site. Also, all defects will show. Clean it up and leave it natural, then clear coat it.
As for the ductwork, i would paint it, unless it is perfectly straight, which it doesn't appear to be.
Your steps would also look nicer if the didn't touch the brick.
November 14, 2012 at 6:13AM   
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I would actually bulkhead the ductwork shown and leave exposed the straight runs.
November 14, 2012 at 6:33AM     
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Helen Rudy Glass
I would keep the raw steel rails, but powder coat them clear with a satin finish to keep them looking good , easy to clean and will not rust or tarnish. I use a powder coat co in Denver I could recommend. Live with the ductwork you can always paint it later.
November 14, 2012 at 6:34AM   
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LOVE the brick and the railing---50/50 on the duct work being exposed.
November 14, 2012 at 6:39AM   
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The natural steel railing and duct work look great. Whose fabricating your railing?
November 14, 2012 at 6:53AM   
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Aguillar designs in Centennial. The sample you see has a clear powder coat on them. I will definitely keep it that way after hearing all the great positive feedback. Thanks to all for the helpful comments.
November 14, 2012 at 7:08AM   
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Recently saw an installation of exposed duct that wrapped duct insulation at a 45 degree angle - very cool and retained the highly reflective quality you like. They used 2' wide foil-faced fiberglass, but there's another product referred to as "Reflectix" that's 16" or 24" wide, no fiberglass and an R-10 value for about the same price.

The duct insulation gave a more "finished" look as well as sound proofing and energy savings.

If you later decide that you prefer a less reflective finish, you could paint over the insulation with an industrial aluminum paint that keeps the metallic quality but isn't as highly reflective - closer to your railing. I use Devoe Bar-OX Industrial Aluminum paint because it actually contains aluminum...not a pretend finish.

I've also run across cold zinc galvanizing compound that goes on like paint - very expensive but the real thing.

Oh, the interesting industrial things I find living in the land of petrochemical giants.

Love what you're doing with the house.
November 14, 2012 at 8:47AM   
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Granite Transformations
Hi mountainfreak,

I'd agree with Emily above- keep the metal it's natural color. I don't like the idea of painting it brown very much.

The industrial design you're going for reminds me of a lot of the rowhomes in Philadelphia, primarily the Fishtown area, that are being renovated and updated. I have a friend who lives there and his place has a lot of exposed brick and duct work. It's a great feel, so I'd say go for it!

Good luck.
November 14, 2012 at 8:50AM     
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Have fun with the industrial chic look.
November 14, 2012 at 9:16AM   
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What a beautiful look you will achieve, the contrast of railings (raw material, not painted)and brick is a perfect blend of modern industrial feel. Great job thus far, I look froward to pictures !
November 14, 2012 at 9:55AM   
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Miller Marriott Custom Homes, LLC.
Leave the ducts as is. I agree with clear coating the railings, but how about using some of that #3 oak as a hand rail to soften the look.
November 14, 2012 at 2:54PM     
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