How to Tile Your Fireplace Mantel

What You'll Need
Drop cloths
Sander and sandpaper for tiling over wood or marble
Grinder for tiling over brick
Dust mask
Thin set with acrylic additive
Grout Sealer
Applicator brush
Vacuum cleaner

A new tile finish can spruce up a fireplace mantel, adding new color and texture to your room’s décor. Tile can be installed over marble, wood or brick and is an easy project for a novice home remodeling enthusiast.

Step 1 - Prepare Area

To prepare your fireplace mantel for its new tile finish, you will need to sand the existing material, whether wood, marble or brick. The sanding will create a lot of dust in the room, so if possible, remove all furnishings from the area. If removal is not possible, cover furniture completely with drop cloths and place cloths over the floor at the base of your fireplace.

Step 2 - Sand Mantel

If you will be covering a wooden or marble fireplace mantel, sand the surface with 30 grit sandpaper. If you are covering brick, use a grinder to remove any dirt and loose material and to roughen the surface of the brick so mortar will adhere. In all cases, vacuum the dust after sanding or grinding, and wipe down the surface with rags.

Step 3 - Test Layout Tile

Verify the layout, pattern and spacing of your tile by placing it over the mantel in the design you plan to use. Doing so will alert you to any changes, cuts or need for more tile before you begin mixing mortar.

Step 4 - Prepare Thin Set Mortar

Thin set is the mortar used to attach the tiles to the fireplace mantel surface. Mix according to manufacturers directions, using the acrylic additive in place of the water for added strength. After mixing, let the mortar rest for about 10 minutes.

Step 5 - Apply Mortar and Lay Tiles

Working from the center of the fireplace mantel out toward the edges, start laying mortar with your trowel, spreading it to ¼ inch thickness on the mantel. Lay the tile, applying your spacers as you work. Press the tile firmly into the mortar. Allow the tiles to set for 24 hours before continuing. Remove the spacers.

Step 6 - Grout

Mix your grout, following package directions, and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to grouting the tile. Use a float to apply the grout evenly, working it into the spaces between the tiles. After grout is applied, wipe the tiles with a damp sponge to remove excess. Allow the grout to cure for 3 days, or per package instructions.

Step 7 - Seal

Use grout sealer to seal your tiles and grout. Apply with an applicator brush and allow to dry completely before using your newly tiled fireplace mantel surface.