The Simple 6 Step Process for How to Tile a Fireplace

how to tile a fireplace

If your living room is beginning to feel out of date, a new coat of paint and some tile on the fireplace can make it look like a brand new place. Tile is a relatively cost-effective way to give your space a boost. It can give your home a high-end feel without the high-end price tag.

The good news is, it's a pretty simple project for any do-it-yourselfer to tackle. If you want to tile your fireplace, let this tutorial show you the way.

1. Plan Your Design

The first step in any project is to develop a plan. For a tiling project, you will want to plan the lay out of your tile on paper before you buy it. This will help you to decide what materials to get.

When developing your plan, make sure to take proper measurements of the fireplace. Also, consider the color of your living room and what sort of tile you want to get.

Use an online design app like Houzz to get inspiration and customize your ideas.

2. Cover Surfaces

Tiling can be a messy affair and a living room is not likely to be too forgiving of the mess. No matter where the fireplace you are tiling is located, it is a good idea to take some precautions. Lay down some plastic sheeting or a tarp to catch spills and debris.

Use painter's tape to cover edges around the fireplace to protect them. You may also want to remove the mantle if it can be removed. If not, consider taping some plastic over it, as well.

3. Lay Out Your Design

Now is a good time to lay out your tile. Make a cardboard template the exact size and measurements of your fireplace. This will give you an exact design of how to tile your fireplace. That way you can just remove a tile from the template and know exactly where to place it.

This also gives you a chance to make sure you have your design right or even to change your mind before you commit. Once the tiles have been set and the mortar is dry, changing your mind will be a lot more difficult. This is your last chance to make design decisions.

guide on how to tile a fireplace

4. Cement Board or Mortar

If your firebox or area surrounding is anything other than brick, you should install some cement board on which to lay the tile. This will provide a strong, smooth surface for setting tile. Use ¼ inch cement board and apply it to the surface with masonry screws. You will need a masonry bit for your drill.

If you are applying tile to a brick surface then you should use thin set mortar with a latex additive. When properly mixed, it should be the consistency of peanut butter. Do not use an organic mastic as it may fail to hold tiles which are too close to the fire.

When you spread the mortar, make sure it fills in all of the crevices evenly creating a smooth surface on which to install the tile. You should let the mortar set overnight before applying the tile.

5. Apply the Tiles

Mix up some more mortar to use as adhesive. Only make up as much as you will use in 45 minutes, so that it doesn't set before you can use it. You should set spacers in between your tiles.

Start from the bottom of the fireplace and work your way up, so that the tiles are not tempted to slide downward. If your pattern requires symmetry, make sure to measure the fireplace carefully and mark where the middle is so you can set your pattern evenly.

You might need to cut corner or edge pieces of tile down to size. We recommend using a high quality tile saw for these cuts, as this is the most accurate way to cut through tile. However, you can also use a tile cutter if needed.

how to tile a fireplace

6. Grouting

It may take as long as 24 hours for the tile to set and fully adhere to the fireplace's surface. You should check the manufacturer's instructions for the exact time.  Mix the grout according to the directions with the packaging and apply it over the tiles. Use a grout float held at a 45 degree angle to press the grout in between the tiles.

Wipe your grout float diagonally over the tile. When you are finished, wipe excess grout off the tile using a damp grout sponge. Once the grout has dried, it is a good idea to seal it. Then remove the painter’s tape and plastic you set out to protect the surfaces around your fireplace.

Don't forget to spend some time cleaning your tile once everything has dried. It will have a layer of dust over it, and your tile will shine once you wipe it down.


Adding tile to any surface will immediately give it an upgrade. Tiling your fireplace can bring a bit of chic into the room where it is located. Knowing how to tile a fireplace will come in handy if you decide to tackle any other tiling projects. In the mean time, enjoy your new, beautifully tiled fireplace.

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