Six steps to tiling your fireplace
by Carri Carlson, Array Kitchen & Bath
and Josh Blanc, Clay Squared to Infinity
1. Research Your Project
Besides being the heart of the home, a fireplace is a major architectural feature that often defines the room. When selecting handmade tile for your fireplace, there are many things to consider. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or modifying an existing design, take time to research the project to help guide your vision.
2. Identify Fireplace Codes
Unlike other tile projects, such as kitchen backsplashes and bathroom installations, fireplace facades have codes regulating what can be applied to the face and hearth. Handmade ceramic tile is a non-combustible material, and can therefore be used on both the hearth and face, up to the fireplace opening. If you’re planning to use materials other than tile in these areas, be sure to check the current International Residential Code (IRC), or contact your local city government for information.
3. Consider the Materials
Handmade ceramic tiles are one of the best products to use for your fireplace surround or hearth. Non-combustible and completely fireproof at any temperature, they do not burn or emit toxic gases, smoke or fumes. Ceramic handmade tiles also provide protection for structural surfaces.
4. Contact a Professional
Professional architects and interior designers understand the elements of space, color and design. Typically the cost of an architect or designer is about 15% of the project budget, but spending more up front can save you money in the end.
5. Determine Your Style
Given the architectural significance of a fireplace, there are three basic styles from which to choose: historic, regional or homeowner’s choice. To follow historic design, determine the period of your home: Victorian, Colonial, Tudor, Arts and Crafts, Cape Cod, Mid Century, Modern or Contemporary. Arts and Crafts or Bungalow fireplaces, for example, are associated with brick or stone faces and handmade ceramic tile. No matter what the historical influence, a fireplace design should reflect the homeowners’ personalities. What colors, shapes and patters do you like? Is there a theme throughout your home that can extend to the hearth? Look at books, magazines and online to generate inspiration for your design.
6. Design and Install
If you design your fireplace yourself and have settled on a concept, start playing with the tile. Listen to what the tiles say, and trust your creative instincts during this process. Procure enough tile for the project, and either begin, or contract a tile setter to do the work. Enjoy your new fireplace as an inspirational focal point of your home.