Tiling a Fireplace:

Turn your fireplace into a showpiece with this easy D.I.Y. guide! These step by step instructions will help you with preparation and installation.


Preparing the Fireplace for Tile

  1. Begin by removing any existing tile or mouldings. If you're working with a gas fireplace or surface with electrical, it's advised to shut the power and/or gas off. For existing tiles, start by chipping out the grout with your chisel and hammer set. Then begin pulling off the tiles by forcing the chisel behind the tile and using your hammer to knock the tiles off. If you simply have moulding, use the teeth on your hammer to pull the current moulding off.
  2. There are times where the drywall will be too damage and will have to be replaced. In this case, use 1/2" concrete board. For all wood burning fireplaces, you are required to have metal studs for a frame and 1/2" concrete board surrounding. This helps prevent house fires and is required by the Ontario Building code. If you're working with a gas or electric fireplace, consider removing the frame temporarily for a professional installation.
  3. Make sure the surface is level and all exposed holes are patched. Sand out any major imperfections and clean the surface of dirt.

Preparing the Fireplace for Tile

  1. Begin to mix the appropriate mortar for your installation in your mixing bucket according to the manufacturers' instructions. It is advised to ware a dust mask, goggles and gloves when working with mortar as it is caustic. With a porcelain or ceramic tile it is recommended to use polymer modified grey mortar and with a natural stone, polymer modified white mortar. With small format mosaics or glass, always use a white fast set glue or polymer modified mortar. Use the notched trowel, generally a 1/2" or 3/8" square notch for larger tiles and 3/16" V-Notch for mosaics, and spread the adhesive on a 2-3 square foot surface at a time. Hold the trowel at a 45 degree angle with the teeth of the trowel touching the surface. Simply drag the adhesive across and be sure to cross back over your previous application to smooth out any air bubbles.
  2. Apply a small amount of adhesive to the back of the tiles using the same technique as on the floor, but with half the amount of product. Lay the tile(s) on the surface into the adhesive and apply pressure to create a bond. Apply your next tile in the same fashion with spacers in between the tiles. Remove any excess mortar from the tile face and grout joins as you go and check to ensure each tile is level. Repeat this process across the floor. When you approach cuts, unlike with floor tiles, it is best to cut them as you go along each row while working your way up.
  3. To create cuts, measure the surface and create a mark on the tile you intend on cutting. Use your tile cutter, preferably a wet saw, to cut along the marked line. It is advised to wear goggles when cutting any tile.
  4. Once the surface is dry, begin applying the grout. Mix the grout according to the instructions, or until it has reached a peanut butter consistency, in your mixing bucket. Apply to the dry tile surface using the grout float in a cross sweeping pattern, held at a 45 degree. The grout should be pushed over the tile joints in 2-3 directions to ensure they are appropriately filled in.
  5. Begin removing the excess grout 5-10 minutes after application. You'll be aware of the appropriate time because the grout will begin to show a white haze. Fill a clean bucket with water and use your grout sponge remove the grout by washing the floor. Be sure not to use too much water or wash in a spiral motion. For the best effect, pull the grout downward in a dragging motion. This may have to be repeated once or twice with glossy or textured tiles.
  6. Use a clean, dry cloth to buff the entire surface clean of any dry particles.
  7. Seal any necessary surfaces, such as grout or natural stone tiles, 3-5 days after applying the grout.
  8. Install the fireplace trim over the newly installed tiles.

Tool Box

  • Notched Trowel
  • Grout Float
  • Measuring Tape
  • Grout Sponge
  • Level
  • Tile Cutter
  • Mixing Bucket
  • Drill
  • Mixing Bit
  • Spacers
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles
  • Margin trowel
  • Chalk Line
  • Hammer and Chisel


  • It is recommended to ware safety goggles and gloves while removing tiles, drywall and/or moulding.
  • Always double check your measurements before creating any cuts!
  • Put a drop sheet or plastic bag in the floor below where you are installing. This will protect the surface and provide an easy clean up.
  • Make sure the first row of tiles is level and straight. Continue to check as each row is installed.