The fireplace is often the centrepiece of your living room, a feature of the house that sets the mood and provides character to your home. Adding tile is a great option to enhance the beauty and functionality of the fireplace. But it is important to know what should and shouldn’t be done in order to ensure that your project is successful in the long run.
Heat resistant tiles including stone, porcelain, ceramic and brick can be used for the hearth or surround of the fireplace. But sticker, plastic or vinyl tiles should not be used due to potential flammability. You should never tile the inside of the fire place, also known as the firebox, due to the extreme temperatures they will be exposed to.
Beyond knowing what type of tiles can be used for a fireplace, it is also important to know where the tile can actually be placed. Even with heat resistant materials such as ceramic and porcelain, there are still some areas of the fireplace that are not suited for tile placement.
All fireplaces are traditionally made up of three distinct parts. These are the hearth, the firebox, and the surround. Tile can not be placed in the firebox — this is the section inside the fireplace where the fire actually is — because it is not meant for areas that exceed 80 degrees Celsius.
The hearth and the surround, on the other hand, are places where tile works great. The hearth refers to the section of the fireplace that exists below and on the front of the firebox. These areas require materials (such as tile) to be present in order to protect your floors from the heat and ashes let off by the fire. The surround is also a good place for tile to be placed because it has enough distance from the actual fire which reduces the temperature to levels that are appropriate for the tile. These two areas of the fireplace can have tile utilized to function as heat resistant materials that provide a great look to your home.
There are a huge number of styles and types of tiles available. It doesn’t matter what look you are trying to achieve; the fact remains that some tiles are better suited to fireplaces than others. This comes down to what they are made from. Some popular tile materials are ceramic, porcelain, stone, brick, metal, glass, vinyl, and even sticker tiles!
The best options for a fireplace in terms of tile are those that are heat-resistant and will be able to add to the aesthetic nature of the home without causing any sort of safety concern. A good tip to identify a good material is by looking for tile that is intended to be used in backsplashes. These are places which are often located near high heat areas — such as the stove in your kitchen — which means they have been constructed specifically with this characteristic in mind.
|Soft Stone (eg. Marble, Limestone)||✓||✓||✘|
|Hard Stone (eg. Granite, Quartz)||✓||✓||✘|
Even knowing that you need a tile that is heat resistant in order to work well for your fireplace, there are still benefits and downsides about different materials that may impact what you end up deciding to go with. Here is some more information about specific tile materials and what they could offer if added to your fireplace.
Hard stone, such as quartz and granite, has gained a reputation for being a material that is easy to maintain while also being durable and heat resistant. Because of this, it is frequently used for the purpose of fireplaces. Also, hard stone provides other benefits such as being easy to clean making it an all around good option.
Soft stone (such as marble and limestone) is a great choice if you are looking for an aesthetic look that comes across as natural and earthy. The neutral tones can complement pretty much any color scheme which is another plus. Many people who choose stone tiles for their fireplace often do so to replace brick hearths that are traditionally around fireplaces.
You also won’t have to worry about any problems with heat due to the resistance and durability of these materials.
Usually, porcelain is the material of tile that is most commonly recommended for use around fireplaces. There are a range of different grades with porcelain which provides versatility and increases the amount of choices you have. If you end up choosing this material, it is better to use a glazed porcelain tile because it is more durable and creates a sleeker look.
Similar to porcelain, ceramic is often a popular choice for fireplace tile because it provides a lot of durability and heat resistance. In fact, ceramic has been utilized for the purpose of fireplace hearths for centuries. Depending on the design of the ceramic you choose, the resulting look can be intricate and unique, adding a beautiful flair to your home.
For those looking to keep the traditional look of a fireplace while still changing it up a bit, brick-look tile is a great option. This style can be used to freshen up the surround or hearth of your fireplace in a way that is classic and familiar. As long as it is a genuine brick tile, and not a plastic replica of a brick tile.
If you’re looking for a sleek, modern look, glass tile is likely the best option for you. The reflection of the glass can enhance the ambiance of the firelight. This can make your home feel more cozy when using the fireplace while still having an option that can withstand high temperatures. Standard glass tiles are fine for the fire surround, but should not be used on the hearth.
You might be thinking that a tempered glass / toughened is a good option if you want glass on a hearth. This really depends on your fireplace. If you have an open fire this is not a good idea. While tempered glass is a lot stronger than standard glass, it still is a conductor of heat and so you would need to ensure that you have a heat proof barrier between the glass and the floor. If a burning log falls out, it can take only 23 minutes for the burning log to heat the floor up more than 90 degrees and also has the chance that the glass would crack. Before installing any type of glass on the hearth, research into your local council regulations.
Like glass, metal is really strong which is why it is such a popular choice for both backsplashes and fireplaces surrounds. This material often gives off a more rustic look when compared with glass or ceramic. Also, there are different designs of the metal you can choose from to truly customize the area surrounding your fireplace.
As metal is a conductor of heat, if you are considering using metal as a fire place hearth, you need to have a heat proof barrier between the metal and the floor underneath. And also consider safety, as the floor can get hot in front of the fire, you or your little ones don’t want to be burning your feet. Before installing metal on the hearth, research into your local council regulations.
Some people think that sticker tiles or vinyl tiles are the perfect way to renovate the look of your fireplace without having to spend as much time or effort. The material replicates the style of real tile which gives you multiple options to pick from. But you need to consult with your local council regulations if you are considering to use potentially flammable material around your fire.
If you want to use sticker tiles, it might be something you can add to your fireplace mantel piece which is that little bit further away from the fire box. You don’t want to create a safety risk for your family and / or undermine your house insurance. If you decide to use sticker tiles, make sure that you purchase ones that are both heat and humidity resistant. Also, NEVER consider using them for the hearth or firebox.
So as you can see not all tiles should be used around your fireplace. But if you choose the right type, then using tile for your home’s fireplace is a perfect way to enhance its look while ensuring that it can function without any problems. When first starting a project such as this, many have worries about what they can and can’t do when it comes to placing tile around the fireplace. Appropriate concerns such as what forms of tile can uphold against the high heat of the fire are often brought up. Fortunately, there are many safe options such as stone and ceramic tile that allow for this to happen with ease.
We hope you found this article useful, please let us know in the comments what kind of projects you have been up to and how you have used staples to complete them! If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of our other articles such as ‘Rendering in the Rain – How to prevent and fix issues‘ or ‘What Mask is Best for Glasses’
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