How to Install Tile Around Fireplace

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Adding tile around a fireplace can really spruce up the entire room. Many older fireplaces are surrounded by brick, which often gives a dreary and unattractive look. Tile for fireplaces comes in many different styles, types, and patterns. Most home improvement stores offer a large selection of tiles that can be installed around a fireplace. Whether you are installing tile to the surround of the fireplace because of damaged existing surround, or just to give the fireplace a new look, you are sure to be pleased with the elegance that a tile fireplace surround will provide.

Things You'll Need

  • Thinset with latex additive
  • Finishing trowel
  • Masking or painter's tape
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • 1 x 3 board
  • Two masonry screws
  • Drill/driver
  • Putty knife
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Make the surround surface smooth. For brick surround, mix up a batch of thinset according to the packaging directions. Use a latex additive in the mixture as well. Apply an even coat of thinset onto the bricks with a finishing trowel until it is smooth. Let the surface dry overnight.

  • Tape off the edges of the mantel or any other borders of the fireplace with masking or painter's tape.

  • Install a support ledge temporarily. Use a level, tape measure, and pencil to mark the middle of the top of the opening to the firebox. Draw a plumb line where the mark that expands from the firebox to the peak of the surround is located. This will be the starting point so that the tile design is balanced.

  • Saw a 1 x 3 board to the width of the surround with a hand saw. Place the board right below the top edge of the opening of the firebox. Ensure that the board is level.

  • Secure the 1 x 3 in place with two inch masonry screws and a drill/driver.

  • Mix up another batch of thinset with a latex additive. Apply a horizontal coating of the mixture across the center line right above the support ledge. Comb the notched rim of the trowel through the thinset at an angle to score it.

  • Place a tile at the center line with the bottom edge of the tile sitting on the support ledge. Tilt the tile to set it into place then wiggle it to fully position.

  • Alternate from left to right as you continue to place tiles on each side of the center line. Check that the tiles are level, plumb, and flush.

  • Move upwards along the center line placing tiles, ensuring that the joints are staggered by rotating the course of the tiles at the center line. Allow the tiles to set for about 24 hours and then remove the support ledges.

  • Remove any thinset pieces that are caught between the tiles with a putty knife.

  • Mix a batch of grout as instructed by the manufacturer.

  • Hold a grout float at an angle to drag the grout across the front of the tiles. This will pack the grout into the joints.

  • Drag the edge of the grout float diagonally over the grout lines. This will get rid of any grout on the front of the tiles.

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