We are a young couple remodeling our first house...one outdated / ugly thing at a time. This blog documents our remodel projects and ideas.
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12.20.2010

New Surround-ings

I can now add another "I've done that" to my DIY list of accomplishments. What am I talking about? Tiling the fireplace surround. I was a little hesitant at first since this was my first time tiling and also because it is a wall, which I read was more difficult to tile than a floor. But fear not, it wasn't hard.

Of course I'm going to tell you how I tackled tiling the surround, but I am not going to advertise this as a how-to. Why? Because it was my first time tiling and it was more trial and error than how-to. I do suggest researching some expert tutorials and asking the pros questions before you just dive in head first. I used this DIY tile forum and it really helped boost my confidence and the finished project. My only words of advice for tiling - make sure the first row of tiles is level. I got off easy on this since I was starting from the concrete floor.

Let's get started with the tiling project. First, the needed weapons tools:
Or you can get the all-in-one bucket if the trowel  and spacers are the right size for you. The size of the tile will determine the size of the notches on the trowel and spacers size. If you are unsure, the thinset has directions and a chart to help you pick the right trowel. My tile is a brick mosaic pattern on a mesh sheet so the spacing was already determined. 

The first step in tiling is to get the right amount of thinset mortar onto the wall. To do this, use the flat end of the trowel to spread some thinset around on a section of the wall, trying to maintain an even coat. Then place the notched side of the trowel at a 45 degree angle to the wall. Using a little bit of pressure, go back over the thinet to make ridges.
Once the thinset is on the wall, press the tile into the thinset making sure it is level and flush with any surrounding tile. Add spacers to make sure the neighboring tiles don't crowd each other. Now you can rock-and-roll up the wall, continuing the thinset, tile, spacer system.
If you notice extra thinset squeezing up between the tile, try using less thinset. The more grout lines (mosaic tile), the less thinset you will need to use. If you still notice the oozing thinset, clean it up as you go along with a paper towel or rag. Trust me, it is much easier to clean it before it dries. If you wait until it dries, you will have to use a grout cleaning tool to remove it from the grout lines before you can grout.
I also found out that it was much easier to cut the mosaic tile with a manual tile cutter instead of a tile saw. The tile cutter is really simple to use and dummy proof. To cut tiles, line up your cut line on the tile with the lines on the tile cutter. Press down on the handle and then move it forward and back a few times to make the little wheel score a line on the tile - listen for the screeching noise to know if the tile is being scored. Then apply a little pressure with the pad thingy to snap the tile cleanly in two. Easy.

After a few hours of work, I have tiled the new fireplace surround and added another project to my know-how list. I don't know why I was a little leery to begin with because with the right tools and a little research, tiling is easy! The fireplace is now ready for grout and then a new mantle. Oh, and don't worry about the uneven edges of the tile on the outside of the surround because the mantle will cover those.
If you are thinking of tiling your fireplace surround, I say go for it! It was not hard and now I can tell everyone - I did that!

Be sure to check the built-in demo post and the fireplace demo post to see the before pics.

27 comments:

DANA said...

Hello! I found you at Cottage Instincts and I am loving your blog! I wanted to invite you to enter my $50 American Express giveaway and my link party that are both going on this week! Keep up the great blogging and happy holidays! -Dana

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paige said...

I found your blog on the picket fence contest, and came across your tiling project. I have plans to do this after Christmas on my own fireplace, and I am thankful I came across your tutorial. it was very helpful! I can't wait to do my own fireplace after seeing yours! thanks so much! Merry Christmas!

Remodel This House said...

@Paige - You can do it! If you have any questions, let me know and I will try to help.
(And I love your name!)
~Bethany

Valerie said...

Thanks for the tutorial. You make it seem so easy.

the cape on the corner said...

looks great-what an accomplishment! i just may have to snag this idea when we do our fireplace!

Kristin said...

Great Job! I also just did my first tiling job on our fireplace surround - http://marleymanor.blogspot.com/2010/11/fireplace-remodel.html

Thanks for sharing, found you on Blue Cricket today.

Jena @ Involving Color said...

Looks great! I'd love to redo our fireplace surround one day and change up our 80's red brick. Thanks for the inspiration! I just came across your blog from Thrifty Decor Chick and am your newest follower :)

Kelly said...

It looks great! I'm looking to do the same thing at my house. Have you had any issues once you have a fire in the fireplace? Did the heat mess with the grout or tiles at all? It seems like an easy enough project to tackle on my own, but I don't want to risk any fire hazards.

Remodel This House said...

Kelly - no problems at all with a fire. We have gas logs and the tile doesn't even get warm.
~Bethany

Inspire Me Heather said...

You did a great job on your fireplace! I linked this to my tile post today too - it's a good tutorial!

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