How to Install Marble Tile on a Fireplace

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You may be taking a look at your fireplace and wanting to install marble tile instead of the dingy looking tiles that have been there for years. It's a task suited for those with a lot of patience an determination, but well worth the effort. Here's how you can install marble tile on a fireplace.

Things You'll Need

  • wet saw or tile cutter
  • chisel
  • marble tiles
  • bonding mortar
  • tile grout and grout float applicator
  • tile spacers
  • old rags
  • safety goggles
  • tape measure
  • pencil
  • large tiling sponge
  • backerboard (optional)
  • square notched trowel
  • patience
  • Remove the old tiles from the fireplace with a chisel. This is the hardest part of the job! Do your best not to pull sheetrock off the wall. Also be sure to peel off any mesh backing before moving on with installing the marble tile.

  • After removing the old tiles from the fireplace, make sure the surface is smooth. You may have to replace the sheetrock if the existing sheetrock has large holes or is bumpy. You can also install backerboard (optional) where the tile will be placed by screwing it into the wall. The backerboard provides a lightweight, smooth surface for the tile. Be sure to patch any holes with a joint compound before moving on with installing the marble tile.

  • Measure and cut the marble tile. You can rent a wet saw (for large tiles) and/or tile cutter (smaller tiles) from a local home improvement store.

  • Mix the bonding mortar according to the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure to mix it thoroughly, without lumps. Let the mixture sit for five minutes.

  • Using a square notched trowel, apply the mortar to the fireplace surface you want to tile with marble.

  • Place the marble tile into the mortar on the fireplace and include spacers for each. Be sure to move the marble tile slightly while placing it, then move it back into the set position. This helps make sure the tile is firmly placed in the mortar.

  • Let the mortar dry on the fireplace for at least 24 hours, undisturbed.

  • Mix the grout and let it sit for 10 minutes. Be sure to purchase the correct type of grout for the amount of space between each marble tile.

  • Remove the marble tile spacers. If there is extra mortar hanging out, carefully remove it.

  • Use a grout float applicator to apply the grout inbetween the marble tiles on the fireplace. Wipe off the excess grout with a large tiling sponge.

  • Let the grout dry on the fireplace, undisturbed, according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  • See the Resources listed below for more tiling ideas.

Tips & Warnings

  • When buying marble tile, be sure to tell the sales staff that the tile will be for your fireplace.
  • Sometimes homeowners decide to install tile right on top of the old tile. This sometimes works, but is not generally recommended if you want your tile to stay in place for the long-term. Starting fresh is best.
  • It's always a good idea to buy extra tile in case you cut the marble tile to the wrong measurements.
  • You can use pieces of wood to hold the marble tiles in place while they dry.
  • Put on your safety goggles before removing the old tiles - tile shards can be sharp and fly everywhere.
  • Wear your safety goggles when cutting marble tiles with the wet saw or tile cutter.

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