A beautiful fireplace can liven up any space and add the perfect touch of elegance to your home. You will truly never be disappointed by the classic look of a tiled fireplace in comparison to brick. Whether you’re just moving into a new home or you’ve lived there for as long as you can remember, it’s time to cover up the exposed brick and put lovely tiles on your fireplace surround.
To create the perfect fireplace surround for your home, take some time during the planning stage to pick the tiles you like and the design you love. Wether you have the traditional fireplace or the best electric fireplace, you are usually fine just using any type of wall tile—however, make sure you read the temperature recommendations for that specific material. Also, the tiles you choose play a large role in the amount of work you have to put in to ensure your project is a success. Accent art tile such as marble tile is sometimes extremely difficult to properly install in the middle of the field.
Placing tiles on your fireplace surround is a difficult project that takes a lot of time and effort. Although that’s true, it’s definitely not impossible to tile a fireplace surround to perfection—even if you’re using one of the best ethanol fireplaces. Your living room will be a tasteful spot for prestigious social gatherings or just casual family get-togethers. Keep reading to learn more about how to tile a fireplace!
Step 1: Start with an Even Surface
When learning how to tile a fireplace, you must begin this complex project by creating a smooth surface that will be easier to tile. If you’re able, remove the mantel. Some mantels are quite secured into the wall so in this case, just place painter’s tape where the mantel touches the edge of the fireplace surround.
There is a possibility that you will still have to tile over an uneven surface such as brick, although other people prefer to simply paint a brick fireplace. Fortunately, there is a great solution to this situation. Use a drill that is fitted with a mixing paddle to create a mixture of thinset and a latex additive. You will know your thinset is mixed to perfection if the texture is similar to that of smooth but sticky peanut butter. This will allow for better brick coverage. The thinset packaging should provide you with adequate directions to help you complete this little project.
Once the above portion is complete, a finishing trowel will allow you to evenly spread the thinset to cover the brick. Make sure you also fill in the grout lines between the brick and create a smooth surface with the flat portion of the trowel. For the best results, the thinset should be allowed to dry overnight.
Step 2: You Need a Ledge for Support
At the top of the firebox opening against the wall, make a small marking at the center. Then, use a level to assist you in drawing a straight line at the mark from the firebox to the very top of the fireplace surround. This will be your centerline and the true starting point of your new design project.
Using your slicer of choice, cut a 1×3 that is sure to match your overall fireplace surround width. Before drilling in the 1×3, you must make sure it’s positioned correctly on the wall. Install the wood right underneath the top edge of the opening to your firebox. If your support ledge and firebox are not level, allow the wood on one side of the wall to drape down slightly to still ensure that everything will be covered with your magnificent tiles! A drill can then be used along with 2-inch masonry screws to lock in the wood on each side of the surround.
Step 3: Focus on the Upper Field Tiles
For this step, you will need an entirely new mixture of the thinset and additive. Once again, use the flat edge of your trowel to apply a layer of thinset that is horizontal across the centerline to act as an adhesive. This will be right above the support ledge. Now, use the notched edge of the trowel at an angle to properly score the thinset.
Your first tile will be positioned at the centerline with the bottom edge just slightly touching the support ledge. Once it’s in place, wiggle it to make sure it is fully secure. Alternate the placement of the tile on each side from the center ensuring that they stay plumb and level. Additionally, you want every face to be flush with the other to ensure you get a final product you’re proud of. Don’t be afraid to periodically adjust your spacing measurements on the wall to make sure this project is a success.
Step 4: Tile the Remaining Field
Now the rest of your surround is ready to tile! Continue to move up the centerline, diligently placing tile in each row. This is a delicate process that needs to be completed course by course.
You want to allow the joints to stay staggered so the orientation of your tiles at the centerline is alternating. If you purchased tile with art designs, make sure the orientation of the title matches the creative vision you had in mind.
Use tile spacers to line up your tiles properly. This small, plastic equipment will allow you to make sure every piece of tile is spaced correctly. For the best results, allow your tile to set overnight.
Step 5: On to the Legs
The legs of the surround are the next portion of the wall that you need to tile. You can now remove the support ledge and estimate the size of your final tile. This final tile will sit closest to the floor at the bottom of the surrounding leg. You can make this estimation by observing the height of the grout line and the height of each tile.
Use a circular saw to cut a 1×3 to the estimated height. Make sure the wood will be long enough to fit across the entirety of the surround. Then, place this piece at the bottom of the legs near the floor and ensure its level. Screw the 1×3 into the wall. If you want to place the tile on the inner portion of the firebox, go ahead and cut two more pieces of wood that will fit, and install them as well.
Apply your thinset to one leg of the fireplace. Once you have an even layer, use the trowel to notch the thinset. Starting at the bottom of the surround near the floor, place your field tiles on each leg. Similar to the upper field tile, stagger these joints as well.
The tile will be securely set within a few hours. If your work begins to become a bit messy, use a damp cloth to clean the joints and tiles. Don’t wait too long or the thinset will harden!
Step 6: Position the Cut Tiles
The focus points of this step are the surround and hearth. You can now remove the support ledge and spacers. Use a measuring tape to measure the precise distance from the hearth to the tile closest to the floor. Then, subtract the width of two grout lines from this number. Finally, use a wet saw to trim your tile down to this exact measurement so your fireplace will be completely covered.
Use the edge of the trowel to spread thinset adhesive onto the tile. If your tiles are quite large, feel free to use the notched edge of the trowel to smooth out this mixture. Then, lay the tile on the wall and wiggle it into place. Once this placement is complete, your tile should be spaced evenly between the hearth and upper tile.
Follow these same steps for the three cut tiles being placed at the portion of the legs nearest the floor. The cut tile will look best if you allow it to sit overnight.
Step 7: It’s Time for the Mortar Grout
Pull out your putty knife and use it to get rid of any unwanted thinset that’s hiding away between the tiles. Use your painter’s tape to cover your uneven surfaced art tiles so they are ready for the grouting stage.
Use the drill that is fitted with a mixing paddle, make your mortar grout mixture by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, pull the mortar grout across the tiles by holding the grout float at an angle. This will ensure the mortar grout gets packed into the joints. Finally, remove any excess mortar grout by pulling the edge of the float diagonally across the grout lines.
Step 8: Now Grout the Art Tiles
Place your mortar mixture into a grout bag and squeeze this into the joints. The mortar grout will then take about one hour to dry, and it will be very firm. Clean off the excess mortar grout by wiping the tiles in circular motions with a damp grout sponge.
Buff the faces of the tiles with a clean cloth to get rid of the white haze that’s covering the shiny finish of your surround. You can now reinstall the mantel with a caulk gun. Caulk between the inner edge of the mantel and the outer edge of the tile. The tile just needs about two to three days to cure and then you’re ready to build the first fire in your newly renovated fireplace!
Can any tile be used on a fireplace?
Most wall tiles like marble are perfectly fine to use for your fireplace surround. You can always be certain by checking the recommended heat application for the tile you want to purchase.
Do you need special grout for a fireplace?
Yes, experts recommend you use thin-set mortar in combination with a narrow grout joint for the best results.
What do you need to tile a fireplace?
Some of the main equipment you need to tile a fireplace are as follows: a trowel, mortar grout, measuring tape, a level, caulk, a caulk gun, painter’s tape, tiles, art tiles (optional), a grout sponge, and a damp cloth.
How do you tile a demo in a fireplace?
You can tile inside a fireplace just as you tile the outside as long as the walls are flat. A smooth surface will allow you to secure the tiles and make your creative vision a reality. Just make sure you complete extensive research on the tile material to ensure it can withstand the heat!
Start Building Your Personal Creation
Tiling a fireplace is a complex process that can leave you with the most gorgeous room setting you could imagine. If you are truly feeling chic, various manufacturers of art tiles like marble tile will custom make their tile to match your vision perfectly. Although this process is fairly time intensive, anyone can do it!
All you need to do is choose a design, make a plan, and gather the proper tools that will help you on your journey to successfully completing this home renovation project. Nothing says welcome home like a classy and elegant fireplace surround or just any kind of fireplace in general.
Units like free standing electric fireplaces normally won’t need tiling. If you have a wood or gas fireplace, building a fireplace surround can be a difficult but rewarding process. On the other hand, if you have an electric fireplace, then learn how to build a frame for it and understand the safety concerns on our website. For all of your fire ventures outside the home, look at how to make a fire pit screen and how to light a fire particles on our website!
Fireplace tiles are so unique because they can add the perfect touch to any home. They can also send any creative message you want them to, and this can depend entirely on your personality. Are you more classy or outspoken? Do you like calm tones or vibrant statements? Use the instructions above to channel your creative energy into the perfect fireplace surround for your home. Now that you know how to tile a fireplace, start building today!