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How to Install a Tile Fireplace Surround

These step-by-step instructions demonstrate how to install a ceramic-tile fireplace surround in your home.

More in Remodeling

wipe powdery haze off tile with damp sponge
  • Time

    Weekend

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Prepare the Area

Decide on a pattern to use and lay it out on a flat surface (Image 1).

Put down a drop cloth to protect the floor. Also apply blue painter's tape along the edge of the project to protect the walls (Image 2).

Remove any molding around the firebox if it won't be part of the design.
Use sandpaper to take the sheen off the wall.

Step 2: Use the Tiles to Draw Layout Lines

Use a level and a straightedge to draw layout lines on the wall. Find a fixed location to start in, then work your way outward.

start tiling at fixed lcation and work outward

Step 3: Apply the Mastic Adhesive

Use a notched trowel to apply mastic. For best results, hold the trowel at about a 45-degree angle. Mastic can also be applied to the back of individual tiles. It sets up quickly, so apply it a little at a time.

use notched trowel to apply mastic

Step 4: Cut the Tiles

Use a tile cutter to cut the pieces to size; start the installation at the top, and work downward so that the cut tiles will be against the floor.

cut pieces of tile to size with tile cutter

Step 5: Apply the Grout and Clean the Tiles

Check the adhesive label for drying time before grouting. Most adhesives dry within 24 hours.

After the adhesive dries, use a screwdriver or other sharp tool to clean out the excess adhesive from the grout lines.

Apply the grout with a rubber grout float. Use the edge of the float to force the grout into the joints. Start at the top of the project and work down.

After the grout dries, it will leave a powdery haze on the surface of the tile. Wipe this off with a damp sponge and a bucket of clean water.

Be sure to add a bead of heat-resistant caulk around the firebox.

apply grout with a rubber grout float

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