I’ve read about a lot of different ways to use tile on your site, but not much about my latest project. I’d like to use tile to give my old brick fireplace a new look. Do you have any tips before I get started?
-Jeff in Ohio
There are many different ways to use tile around your home, as well as many different types of tiles that can be used to finish fireplaces. Since you’re working with an existing fireplace, you are a little more limited as far as how much tile and what size tile you are able to use. If you are beginning from the design phase, you have many more options and ways to use tile.
The most common way to use tile on a fireplace is to install it on the fireplace surround. This is the area directly surrounding the fireplace box below the mantle. Most commonly, the tile is installed with 12 inches showing around the edges. The tiles typically used are 12×12 ceramic or porcelain tiles, 12×12 natural stone tiles such as marble, granite or slate, several rows of 4×4 tiles or mosaic tiles.
If the area requires more than 12″ to be covered, then the appropriate size tile should be chosen to fill in the space desired with the least amount of cut tiles. Other tile sizes that can be used are 13×13, 16×16, 18×18, 20×20 and 24×24.
If the fireplace has a hearth, the tile can be installed here as well. Some hearths are simply tile installed flush with the adjacent floor covering. This is done to protect the floor from sparks that can fly out of the fireplace when real wood is being burned. Some hearths are built like an elevated box that you can sit on. Tile can be installed on the face and seat portion of the hearth, or this part can be made from a different material. Often the part of the hearth that you can sit on will be installed as a slab of stone rather than individual tiles.
Tile can also be installed above the mantle. The choice is up to you how high the tile is installed. Sometimes, the tile is installed all the way to the ceiling making the area appear higher and taller.
Tile can also be used when you have a corner fireplace. Using a porcelain or glass tile is a good choice because the tiles are the same color throughout. This makes the corner and edge transitions look as natural as possible.
Tile patterns that are most commonly used around a fireplace are: straight, diagonal, staggered or brick joint. There is generally not enough room in the area around a fireplace to install a very detailed pattern.
If you are about to install tile on a fireplace, be sure to consider the amount of space you have to tile and how many full pieces you can get in that space. Doing this before hand will make it easier to shop for the right tile. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a piece of tile for the fireplace and then measuring the space only to find out that you will end up with one full piece and a small cut piece. It is acceptable to have cut pieces, but small cut pieces next to one full tile can look awkward, distracting and unplanned. It is much easier to know your options before you begin looking for the perfect tile.