Should You Tile Over Your Brick Hearth?

Fireplaces can be amazing focal points for homes, but they aren’t always in their best shape when you buy. Whether you’ve just bought a home with a dated fireplace, or you wish you could give it a refresh, fireplace renovation is a great idea.

For such sturdy structures, though, how can you change up the look? A brick hearth might look like it’s staying there forever, but it doesn’t have to.

Using tile for your fireplace is a great alternative to brick and stone. Tile can withstand high temperatures and won’t catch on fire, so it’s perfectly safe for fireplace refinishing.

The question remains: Should you tile over a brick hearth? The short answer is yes, but you need to make sure the right method is used.

Correctly Tiling Over a Brick Hearth

Many DIY-ers make the mistake of jumping right into tiling their brick hearth without preparing the space or building the right foundation. While brick and tile can both be sturdy surfaces, not laying them correctly can lead to structural issues and an improper finish. A professional has the know-how and experience to get a beautiful end result.

Prepping the Area

A professional will first prepare the space by removing the mantel and any other attachments. Then, they’ll use a drop cloth to cover the hearth and rub a wire brush across to remove loose mortar. Once all loose material is removed, they’ll go over the area with a white vinegar-soaked rag to rid of any soot.

Once the brick has been thoroughly cleaned, it must dry out for 1-2 days. The professional will make sure that the hearth is completely dry before the project continues.

Laying the Foundation

Once the project is ready to move on, a professional will mix a special type of cement to create a foundation for your tiling. This type of concrete will help tiles stick to a smooth surface without building out the fireplace too much.

A professional will spread this cement thinly across the surface of the fireplace. Taking care to press the cement thoroughly into all the grout lines between the bricks with a flat trowel, they’ll want to remove any signs of depressions on the surface. 

This smooth surface is not always achievable right away, as the first coat could leave indentations where the grout lines were. After the initial coat dries, the professional might choose to add a very thin second coat over it to fill in the remaining lines. 

Adding Your Tiles

Now that there’s a flat and seamless surface, the professional can start applying your tiles. For this step, though, they’ll have to create a different type of concrete.

This time, they’ll use a notched trowel instead of a flat one. They’ll press your tiles into a new latex-modified thinset so that they stick. The difference between a DIY-er and a professional is that the professional will know the exact amount of thinset required to stick the tiles without creating excess.

They’ll also be an expert at making sure the tiles don’t slip down with gravity as they work. Improperly laying tile at this step can lead to some undesirable results. The tile might end up slanted, uneven, and even droopy. You won’t get the clean lines and beautiful patterns that you were hoping for.

Polishing it Off

Once your tiles are set in place, a professional will ask that you leave the fireplace alone as the tiles cure to their foundation. Before it dries, though, they’ll need to use a wet sponge to wash down the surface and remove any adhesive that has bulged through the cracks.

After cleanup, a professional will wait at least 24 hours for it to dry. The next step is to grout, which will create the smooth, polished surface you’ve been dying for. The point of the grout is to fill in the gaps between the tile, but certain types of grout can damage your tile if you don’t know what to buy.

Allow a professional tiler to finish the job so you end up with a beautiful new tiled fireplace!

Should You Tile Over Your Brick Fireplace?

While it’s possible, and even popular, to tile over your brick hearth, should you? To some, covering a brick hearth is a travesty, but to others, it’s an opportunity for an upgraded home interior.

It all comes down to preference, but tiling your brick hearth is a great way to transform your space. Here are some great reasons to tile over your brick hearth!

Alter the Architecture

While brick fireplaces generally look similar, tiling over your fireplace can completely change the effect it has on your home. If you feel that your fireplace is overpowering, using a matching color with the rest of your interior palette can help your fireplace blend into its surroundings. 

If you want your fireplace to be the pop of color in an otherwise bland room, you can use brightly colored or patterned tile that will make it stand out.

If you’d like your fireplace to look taller or wider, using an intentionally shaped tile can alter the perception of your architecture. Using wide tiles going across the hearth horizontally, for example, can make your fireplace look wider.

Achieve Any Style

Many interior styles don’t meld well with traditional brick fireplaces. If you don’t like brick, you could change the look of your brick fireplace by covering it with endless options for tile.

You can transform a brick hearth into almost any style and design you envision with a great tiling job. There are so many different styles of tile to choose from, including those that give the effect of stone and wood. If your style is modern and minimalistic, you can use simple white or black tiles that will make your hearth look sleek and clean.

A Low-Maintenance High Safety Choice

Brick is not generally a material you can clean. You might be able to dust it, but you can’t wipe it down like a countertop. If you replace your brick with tile, you’ll be able to wipe up any mess with one swipe. 

Debris and soot from the fireplace won’t be a nuisance anymore. Instead, you can just wipe it off. You won’t need to seal the tile or worry about any maintenance. 

Further, tiles are great materials for withstanding extreme heat. Even homeowners with an open wood-burning fireplace can use tile as a styling option. The tiles won’t easily crack and chip from wear.

Transform Your Home’s Focal Point

If you’ve been staring at your brick hearth wondering what you could do to improve the space, look no further. Choosing a tile that represents your style and home interior will help your fireplace work for you, not against you.

Ulta Home Improvements offers home improvement without the pain. Contact us to get a free quote on your project!