What You Need to Know
So much revolves around the fireplace. It is a mood setter and focal center of the living room. It needs to be equally tough and beautiful—and tile is a great option for your fireplace. But not so fast. Tile will only be successful on your fireplace if you know its capabilities and requirements.
Where You Can Put Tile for the Fireplace
There are three parts to the fireplace: the firebox, the surround, and the hearth. The firebox is where the actual fire will be and it must be lined with the appropriate materials that will meet building codes. Tile is not recommended for applications that will exceed 175⁰F (80⁰C) so it’s not an option for the firebox.
The surround is the front facing portion of the fireplace. It is the part that is most visible. It needs to be durable enough to handle the heat and look good while doing it. Tile is perfect for the fireplace surround.
The hearth is the section of the fireplace below and in front of the firebox. It is a horizontal surface and may be a raised hearth or the floor immediately in front of the fireplace. Tile is also a great option here. In fact, it’s a necessity if the rest of your room has carpet or wood floors. It protects the area in front of the fireplace which might be subjected to sparks, embers, and other debris.
There are many different types of tile, so which can you use? Most wall tile is suitable for the fireplace. But just to make sure, check to see if they are recommended for high-temperature application. Another trick is to select a tile that is recommended as a backsplash tile. Most backsplash tile is made to withstand higher temperatures because it is often placed around stoves and other intense areas of the kitchen.
Here are more details about specific materials and their heat resistance.Ceramic
Ceramic has been used on fireplace surrounds and hearths for hundreds of years. Decorative tiles were especially popular in the late 19th century. Ceramic withstands heat well and is durable enough to withstand the demands of the fireplace. You may want to select a thicker tile for the fireplace for extra durability.
Try Daltile’s La Marque™ for a classic glazed ceramic decorative tile look on your surround. Castle Metals™ also has a rustic, old world feel for a classic fireplace design.
Porcelain is also a great pick for the fireplace. It is fired at a higher temperature giving it a slightly different look than can be achieved with ceramic unless it is glazed. It stands up to high temperatures just as well as ceramic and often has more options available because of its popularity.
Glass & Metal
Glass is a stunning choice for the fireplace. Its light reflecting qualities enhance the beauty of the firelight and it takes on a romantic yet contemporary flair.
Metallic tiles add a little rustic appeal to your fireplace surround and come in designs that are just as decorative as classic ceramic tiles.
Try Daltile’s City Lights™, which has an iridescent quality, for some extra fireplace glamour. Ion Metals™ has an aged metal effect that gives you a contemporary but classic look. Check out the accents and deco tiles to create an interesting pattern.
Stone is another excellent choice for the fireplace. It gives a natural look to your fireside and is a good replacement for traditional brick hearths and surrounds. Stone performs well when exposed to high-temperatures and is extremely durable.
You can also use stone-look tile that looks every bit as great as stone but is made of porcelain. It is available in extra-large sizes so you can add a bit of a modern sensibility to your fireplace.
Special Considerations for Tile on the Fireplace
Installing tile on your fireplace may require a practiced hand. There are special building codes to meet and installation techniques to observe.
Federal building codes regulate the installation of tile on fireplaces. There are also state and local building codes so check codes in your area before making any final decisions.
Installers usually recommend thin set mortar and a narrow grout joint. Daltile recommends using non-sand and non-acid grout for the fireplace. MAPEI Kerapoxy Design is recommended for best results.