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How To Retile A Fireplace

By Lawrence Macmillan August 15, 2021

While fireplaces are often a focal point of any room, it is often possible for these fireplaces to become dated. Especially if the fireplace in your home is very traditional.

While some people choose to decorate their home in a way that complements the traditional decor of their home, more modern decorating styles are becoming a lot more popular. A lot of traditional fireplaces really do not go with modern styles of decoration, so you might decide that you want to make over your fireplace. 

One of the easiest ways to make over your fireplace is to retile it. Especially if your existing fireplace is built with tiles. But, if you don’t know how to do this, then getting started can be tricky. So, if you want to find out how to retile a fireplace, then you are in the right place. Read this guide to find out how.

Why would you want to re-tile your Fireplace?

We’ve already mentioned one reason why you might want to re-tile your fireplace, but there are actually lots of different things that might lead you to re-tile your fireplace. It could be to modernize your fireplace, or to match your decor, but you might also choose to re-tile your fireplace for more practical reasons. 

One of these practical reasons could be that your existing fireplace is damaged. Tiles are fairly hardy, but they can also be very fragile, especially if they are old. So, if you have an original fireplace in your home, there is probably a good chance that it has been damaged.

If only one or two tiles have been damaged, then you might not worry. But, if multiple tiles have cracked or broken, then you might choose to retile it simply because the original tiles are beyond repair. 

So, now that we’ve looked at some different reasons why you might choose to re-tile your fireplace, let’s take a look at what you need to do. 

Things you Need

Before you begin retiling your fireplace, you will need to gather a whole load of materials. To make the process easier, preparation is key, so before you do anything, you should gather the following things:

  • Putty knife
  • Wire brush
  • Multipurpose thin set mortar 
  • 60-grit sandpaper
  • Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
  • Bonding agent 
  • Roller and Brush
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Drill and paddle bit
  • Grout trowel

You will also need:

  • Spacers
  • Tiles (in your chosen color/pattern/size)
  • Grout (in your chosen color)

Once you have chosen your tiles and grout, and have gathered all the necessary materials and tools that you need, you are ready to begin retiling your fireplace. To find out how to do this, keep on reading. 

How to Retile a Fireplace: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Retile a Fireplace: A Step-by-Step Guide

You are now ready to begin retiling your fireplace. To do this, simply follow this step-by-step guide to make the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible. 

Step One: Clean Up your Fireplace

First, you need to prepare your existing fireplace for retiling. This is very important if the existing tiles on your fireplace are damaged or cracked. If the existing tiles are in perfect condition, then you might be able to tile directly on top. But, if there is any damage to them, you should remove the original tiles. 

You should do this by taking your putty knife and slotting it behind any loose tiles. With a gentle amount of prying, you should be able to loosen these tiles to the point where they pull away from the fireplace.

Once you have removed the tiles, you should take your wire brush and begin to scrub at the walls of the interior of your fireplace. This will remove any excess filler or grout from the inside of the fireplace, leaving you with a blank canvas. 

If you find any holes on the inside of your fireplace, then you should fill the damage using your multipurpose thin set mortar, and the putty knife. If you have to fill any holes, you should not proceed for at least 24 hours to ensure that the mortar has set completely. 

Step Two: Sand the Fireplace

You should then take your 60-grit sandpaper and begin roughing the surface of the interior of your fireplace. Tiles will not stick to slick or slippery surfaces, so roughing it up will provide a better base for your tiles. After that, take your TSP and dilute it with water, before giving the inside of your fireplace a good clean. Always follow the dilution instructions on the box. 

Step Three: Prepare the Existing Tiles

If you are retiling on top of existing tiles, then you will need to prepare the surface even further. You should take your bonding agent and apply this to the existing tiles.

You can do this using a roller and a brush to ensure that the existing tiles are completely saturated with the agent. Follow the instructions on the box of your bonding agent before you begin installing your new tiles. 

Step Four: Start Tiling

While the bonding agent is drying slightly, you should draw level and square lines on the surround of your fireplace. This will ensure that the tiles you add are completely square, and it will allow you to prepare for any necessary cuts in the design. You can then begin tiling, starting from the bottom and working up. 

Step Five: Continue Tiling

Once you have applied the first row of tiles to your fireplace, you should then move onto the next level. You may need to use spacers at this point to ensure that the design remains level.

As you work up the fireplace, you might find that you need to use more spacers to keep the design level. Finally, mix your grout and fill in the gaps between the tiles with the grout using the grout trowel. Then your fireplace will be retiled and ready to use as soon as everything has set. 

Summary

In short, this has been a complete guide to retiling your fireplace, including all the tools that you need and a step-by-step method to follow. So, if you want to transform your fireplace, then you are in the right place. 


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