A fireplace is often a room's focal point. An older fireplace may reflect an outdated style, or it may show its age through stains or damage. Resurfacing the fireplace by installing tile is a great way to update the look of the fireplace to match any home decor.
Before you begin installing tile on a fireplace, clean the area thoroughly. First, remove any ash or debris from the fireplace and sweep the hearth. Then use warm soapy water to scrub the hearth and the surrounding area of the fireplace where the tiles will be set. Once the area is clean, allow all surfaces to dry completely before beginning installation.
Choose tiles for the fireplace that suit your personal home decor. This could include ceramic tile, granite, marble, or a combination of materials for a contrast in texture. Keep in mind that porous natural stone tiles such as marble need to be sealed prior to installation. Otherwise, the tiles could be stained by the mortar used to bond them to the fireplace. Buy the sealer along with the tiles and use a cloth to apply it to the top and sides of each tile.
Don't use regular thinset mortar or tile adhesive near your fireplace. These adhesives are not heat resistant and high temperatures may destroy their bond, causing tiles to become loose or fall off. Look for latex reinforced thinset mortar or adhesives that are specifically made for heated surfaces.
Choose a dark color of grout that complements the tiles you are installing. While white grout may be attractive, it will become dirty when you use the fireplace. Grout can be difficult to clean and it has a tendency to stain. Using a darker grout will avoid this problem.
Before putting the tile on the fireplace hearth, spread a layer of latex reinforced thinset mortar or heat resistant tile adhesive over the hearth. Press the tiles into the mortar and use tile spacers to maintain consistent grout lines. After you've covered the hearth, allow the tiles to set overnight. This way you can tile the surround of the fireplace without having to worry about disrupting the tiles on the hearth. Set the tiles on the surround in the same manner.
After you've covered the surround with tiles, prop a 2"x 4" board underneath the upper edge of the fireplace. Make sure that this board is held snugly against the bottom edge of the tiles. The purpose of this board is to keep tiles from slipping down while you wait for the mortar or adhesive to set. Let the tiles set overnight before applying the grout.
Before you grout the tiles, remove all of the spacers with an awl or a thin screwdriver. Mix the grout according to the package directions and spread it onto the fireplace surround tiles with a rubber float. Once all of the crevices on the surround have been filled with grout, move on to the hearth tiles. When the entire tiled area has been grouted, use a damp sponge to wipe away any excess grout.
- Tiling Step by Step; Better Homes & Gardens; 2004
- Complete Tile & Flooring; Lowe's; 2004
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