Tiling a fireplace surround

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Ian Gills, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    I am remodeling my brick (wood-buring) fireplace and have just tiled the hearth and surround. It has taken a long time but looks great.

    One question. I have used ordinary tile adhesive and grout. Will these be OK? I am assuming the hearth and brick surround does not get that hot.

    Any experience with this?
  2. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Brooklyn NY
    Hopefully you when you say you used regular tile adhesive, you're talking about a good quality thinset(powder that has to be mixed with water) as opposed to premixed mastic.

    The brick is very thirsty and will absorb the water out of the thinset too fast causing it not to cure properly. It's always a good idea to spray the bricks with water prior to applying the thinset.

    If you go to tileyourworld.com those guys there know everything there is to know about tile.

    I think it's better if you ask the question before you do the project.
  3. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Lets see some pics!
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    Most mastics contain some organic materials which won't like heat. Thinset (at least dryset) is basically concrete and sand, so heat isn't as big a problem (really high heat is, though). I think you would have been better off with thinset.

    Depending on the size of the tile, mastic is not recommended, either. If it is premixed, regardless of what it says on the label, it is NOT thinset. Once you mix true thinset with water, you start the chemical reaction to cure the cement in it. Mastic will re-emulsify if you get it wet long enough and needs to dry rather than cure to provide the strength.

    www.johnbridge.com is my preference on tiling help.
  5. Howard Emerson

    Howard Emerson I teach guitar:You call that a job?

    Huntington Station, NY
    Hi Ian,
    I did a complete remake of my fireplace and mantle, using tile below and retaining the old brick above.

    I used the 1/4" Hardee Backer board over the brick first. I attached it with thin-set and masonry screws, and made sure it was flat. Setting tile to the face of the brick would have been more work than I could stand, or kneel, as the case would have been.

    You may have some movement down the road having used regular tile mastic, and it will probably manifest itself in the grout lines cracking. A lot depends on how hot and how often you use the fireplace.

    Here's some poorly lit 'after' shots of mine showing the full-length mantle and cabinets I made as well.


    Attached Files:

  6. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Thanks very much to everyone and for the pics too.

    I am glad you mentioned backer board. I though about doing this, and see the advantages (especially when it comes to removing it someday), but got scared off at the last minute thinking about how I would line everything up, so went straight on to the brick.

    I am actually cheating a little in that I am tiling the "easy bits" (top of the hearth but not the sides of it; some of the header etc.) and crafting some nice wood surround out of oak and cherry for the more complex areas. Hence my tile work is only partial.

    Unfortunately my cheat has started to backfire a little though. The tiling took less time that it does to fashion the wood!

    I did not realize tiling was so easy when I started. And wet saws are amazing.

    I'll post some pics when it is all finished. I am still doing the woodwork.:eek:
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2008
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