Disclosure: This blog post is in collaboration with London Encaustic who provided the tiles for this project.
Well here we are. A blog post that has been a little over a year in the making and I had started to wonder whether this project may have been jinxed. Sometimes though things are really worth waiting for aren’t they? And Covid-19 has probably taught us all to be more patient. Finally though one of the last projects in the living room is now complete and so here is hopefully a helpful guide on how to tile a fireplace.
First though a little look back at the evolution!
When we moved in, we inherited a *lovely* gas fireplace. Not particularly modern, it was a case of turn the gas tap on to the left of the fireplace, light a match and throw it in, hoping for the best. Not really my idea of a good time.
We endured one very cold winter and then in 2015 decided one of our renovation investments that year was to install a log burner. The fireplace was excavated and the log burner was installed, a little bit of a rough and ready finish inside the fireplace itself that I eventually painted white to match the existing walls, after reading hours and hours of unhelpful advice on the internet suggesting you can’t paint inside a fireplace because it will scorch. Wrong.
A minimal Christmas came and went and I realised the error of my “I don’t want a mantel” ways. Nothing to decorate! So then we found a company who made custom beams and job done. The living room was replastered and painted and the fireplace was finished, or so I thought.
Instagram is a dangerous place because you see lots of pretty things, like beautiful fireplaces that have TILES inside them, and so my fireplace went from being finished to feeling like something was missing. And once it feels that way, it’s kind of impossible to forget about it.
Thankfully the wonderful team at London Encaustic were on hand to help my tiled fireplace dreams come true, but my goodness its been a bit of a journey!
How To Tile A Fireplace – The Tiles
When you’re thinking about how to tile a fireplace, the first consideration is what tiles to use. If it’s simply for decorative purposes then it doesn’t matter too much. If you have a log burner then it goes without saying the tiles need to be heat proof and not all tiles are.
Encaustic or cement tiles are ideal for this. They’re typically thicker and heavier than standard tiles you might use in a bathroom or kitchen and London Encaustic have THE most beautiful designs. I’d already seen Cate St Hill use them in her fireplace and absolutely loved the design of the Valdelagrana tile but thought that black and white might be a bit too stark.
London Encaustic to the rescue though as they offer a colour match service. I’d decided to pick out the pink from the flowers of our alcove wallpaper and emailed them a picture of some spare wallpaper. They sent me back a range of pinks that were available and I chose one and off they went to be made. Their range is handmade in Spain so you do need to allow a lead time of several weeks for the tiles to be made and then delivered.
How To Tile A Fireplace – Delivery
A quick word here on delivery costs: I’d already done some research and knew that encaustic tiles tend to come with quite a high delivery charge (as a disclosure, London Encaustic provided the tiles but I paid for delivery). Even without a colour match service, encaustic tiles typically tend to be made to order and so you can pay anywhere upwards of £80 for delivery, depending how many you need.
The order for tiles went in at the end of 2019 and they were delivered a couple of months later, ready for tiling. Until of course a global pandemic hit! I knew that this was a job I wouldn’t be capable of myself to the level of perfection I wanted (and now that it’s done I categorically stand by that decision!) but as went into lockdown back in March, it of course meant there was no-one able to come and do the tiling. So we waited and waited. And finally, just a couple of weeks ago the fireplace has now been tiled.
How To Tile A Fireplace – What You’ll Need
- Tile Sealant
- Tile trim
Actually tiling with encaustic tiles is no different to regular tiling but the most important element of the work is sealing the tiles. Cement tiles are highly porous and MUST be thoroughly sealed. Now, most people will say it’s ok to do this once they’ve been grouted, but our tiler is a stickler for a proper job and advised to seal the tiles front and back before he did the work. We used the Unpolished Protector from Topps Tiles, I popped it into a large shallow square container and then laid the tiles in both sides before leaning them upright to dry. It’s a good idea to double dip just to make sure they’re properly sealed.
Then they’re ready for tiling and I take my hat off to those of you who are able to do a good job because it just looked so intricate, especially as our log burner is already in situ.
How you finish the edges that will be front on as you look at the fireplace is up to you. You can leave them as they are, or paint them to match the surrounding walls. Our tiler recommended getting some square edge tile trim which you can get again from Topps Tiles. We chose a brushed chrome finish to match the handle of the log burner and honestly it just frames the tiles so, so well and really sets off the pink and white pattern.
And there we have it – a project that’s been a year in the making but so very worth the wait. I love how the fireplace looks now and it just feels that bit extra.
I hope this post has been helpful if you’re thinking of tiling and giving a bit of information about using encaustic/cement tiles and I can’t recommend London Encaustic enough as a place to start your search.
Disclosure: This blog post is in collaboration with London Encaustic who provided the tiles for this project. All words, opinions and images are my own.