Or for the serious DIYer: How To Tile Your Fireplace
It’s finally time to tile the fireplace! Truthfully we finished it over the weekend but I’m just posting it today because that’s the fastest blog pace I can keep around here. (How do other DIY bloggers post a new project every day?!) Enough about how slow I am. Let’s talk tile.
We started on the floor with four travertine tiles. You might remember seeing them in this “prep” photo last week.
We installed them as soon as the cement board was in place so they could be grouted and dry before we started working on wall tile since we would be stepping all over them. The process was pretty straight-forward.
I laid the tiles out in the order and direction I wanted them. Then Josh measured and cut them to size using a wet saw we borrowed from a friend.
Next I laid down a line of painter’s tape along the carpet to protect it from any thin-set messiness.
Oh, and see that piece with weird shapes at the top of the last photo? (Are those parallelograms?) That’s the light colored version of the edging we used on the face of the firebox HERE. It’s called a Schluter Systems Reno-TK Reducer (aka floor-trim-thingy) and this time we used it on the floor like you’re supposed to. Josh cut it to length with a hacksaw then I just squished it down into the thinset before I put the tile down.
Speaking of thinset, we used THIS based on a recommendation from the friendly folks at Lowe’s. It’s pre-mixed, ready to use, and super easy.
After the edging, tiles, and spacers were down we let it dry for 24 hours.
Then we grouted using this in a bone color and let that dry 24 hours.
Then, finally, it was time to start working on the wall!
We started at the bottom because any time you’re tiling a vertical surface you have to think about gravity first. Your bottom row needs something to sit on so it doesn’t slide down into a pile on the floor.
You can see we used a sheet of plastic to protect our newly-installed travertine and some cheap wooden shims to create a small gap between the floor and wall tile. I have no logic or point of reference to explain why we added that gap. I just felt like we should. Sometimes that’s the only reason I have.
One of the advantages of this particular stone tile is there are no grout lines and no spacers. So installation really was as simple as smearing some thin-set on the wall (the same stuff we used for the floor), raking through it with a notched trowel, and squishing the tile into place. Josh did the cutting, again with a wet saw, and I did the sticking. After the bottom section was done we tackled the left side.
See those shims sticking out? Every few tiles I would check for level and if things looked off I used a shim to fill the space and get us back on track. Yes, it created some gaps but I’ll get to that later.
Next was the right side and a custom-built piece for the top section.
So what the heck is it? Remember before when I said you have to think about gravity first? Well that weird looking “table” is what we used to keep our top section of tile from falling to the floor. Worked a little something like this.
I will confess that we didn’t put enough support in the middle of the “table” so if you look really, really closely at our finished tile job you’ll see we’re a tiny bit saggy in the middle. Such is the imperfect DIY life.
I want to take a minute to point out how quickly and easily the actual tile installation went. More importantly, to point out the immense importance of good prep work. If we hadn’t spent all that time shimming the cement board, making the overhang even, etc., this whole thing would have been a slow, frustrating disaster. As much as I hate it, prep work makes all the difference in the world. Don’t skimp or rush. It’s just not worth it in the end. Now back to the fireplace.
Remember those gaps I told you I would revisit? Here’s a shot of one.
All I did was fill those spaces with some grout left over from the floor tile and they were practically invisible. (I can’t take credit for the idea. A friend of mine recently used a similar stone on her fireplace and told me how she filled the spaces. Thanks Nicole.)
Since the stone was so uneven and rough I decided to tape off the area first to minimize the mess.
Then a shot of grout from my caulk gun which I smoothed out with my finger.
Lastly, remove the tape and clean up the edges with a sponge. Can you find it?
I probably filled a dozen spaces this way. Most of them were smaller than the one I shared but still too big to look natural.
Guess what? It’s done! Well, the tiling is done. Now we’re working on a mantle. Can’t wait to share it next week. Until then, here’s a few more photos of the finished tile.
So excited to have that done. Are you finishing up any big projects? Or are you getting ready to start something new for Spring?