When it comes to my brick fireplace, I haven’t really ever been a fan. The struggle for the past 3 years of what to do with it, how to style it, has been my biggest design challenge. I finally decided what I wanted to do and I’m ready to make it permanent. Come learn how to tile over painted brick fireplace.
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The biggest question you are probably here today to ask is “Can you tile over a brick fireplace?” The short answer is YES! You absolutely can! You can even tile right onto a painted brick fireplace, which is what I have.
Here’s a picture from when we first moved in. It’s your basic builder grade fireplace. I never liked the brick color or the color of the mantel and surround. The first thing I did was paint the brick white.
Then I painted the surround to match which was fine for a while, but I eventually wanted something warmer so I painted it in Stone Hearth by Benjamin Moore.
ANNNDDDD here’s where we ended up in the present. Next step: Goodbye Brick! Let’s get into the steps of how I put tile over my painted brick fireplace.
How To Tile Over Painted Brick On A Fireplace
The way to tile over brick is to just put the tile directly on the brick with some thinset. Make a flat surface with the thinset. Add another layer with a notched trowel and tile over the brick fireplace. There’s a bit more to that so let’s look at the design plan and the steps.
The Design Plan
In my last post, I made my own faux hand painted tiles inspired by Antique Delft tiles. These are white 4×4 tiles ceramic tiles. My plan for these tiles is to put them along the inside border by the mouth of the fireplace. The tiles will cover most of the brick and then trim will cover the rest.
I’ll paint the rest of the trim to make it look like it was always part of the fireplace. The hearth will get boxed in and have either stone, concrete to look like stone or slate tile on top.
Step 1-Gather Supplies
- Tile of choice (these are the tiles I used)
- Tile Adhesive
- White unsanded grout
- Score and Snap Tile Cutter (Wet Saw with thicker tile or tile sheets)
- Notched trowel
- Rubber Grout Float
- Drop Cloth
Step 2-Clean The Brick
The first thing you want to is clean that brick WELL! Mine is painted, so I don’t have lots of loose bits or mortar, but they could use a good clean. Take a wire brush and run it thoroughly over the brick to clear dust and debris.
Clean the brick around the fireplace with a mixture of water and vinegar. Spray onto the brick with a spray bottle and let it sit. Use a sponge the wipe off the brick. Let Dry.
Step 3-Cover Brick In Thinset
Next step is to cover the brick in thinset. Use a non notched trowel to push the thinset into all the dips and grooves of the brick and the mortar. The idea is to make a flat surface to tile onto. You’ll want to use Latex Modified Thinset over the brick so it can take the heat of a fireplace. Let dry.
Step 4-Start Tiling
Once the thinset is dry, add another layer of thinset, applied with a notched trowel this time. Set your tiles on that. Start from the top and get the top middle row done as straight as possible. This is where the eye is drawn and the most important to get straight and pretty.
Continue adding the other tiles across and down along the edges of the brick until the tile is finished. Let the mortar cure for 24 hours before moving on to the next step.
Pro Tip: Add a wood beam horizontally onto the fireplace across where the bottom of the tile will sit. Make sure it is level. This acts as a rest for the tile while it sets so that it doesn’t slip down after being applied. After that thinset dries, continue tiling down the sides of the fireplace. Let the thinset dry.
Grouting is so satisfying, all the imperfections, just go away and your handiwork starts looking professional. I recommend an unsanded grout. The kind that I had was left over from mixing my own chalk paint. It is in a powder form that is easy to mix as you just add water.
Mix well. You want the consistency of bread dough or peanut butter.
Use a rubber grout float to push the grout into the grout lines between the tiles.
I chose white grout for this since my tiles were white.
Apply the grout at a 45 degree angle and wipe away excess at a 90 degree angle.
Wait 10-20 minutes until wiping away the grout haze with a sponge. You want the sponge to be very lightly damp, NOT TOO WET! If the grout is too wet, it will crack and obviously ruin all your hard work. Don’t do that.
After several hours, using a bit more water on the sponge, wipe the tile again to remove any remaining haze. It may take several more passes. If that’s not working, make a solution of vinegar and warm water to get the stubborn remnants off.
If you are interested to see how this fireplace and the rest of the wall turn out, be sure to join the newsletter for updates as to when that will be available to read.
This was a challenging and unique project to figure out. I hope if you are ever in the same situation of wanting to tile over a painted brick fireplace and need to know how, that this post helps you out to get started or to answer any questions.
This project has elevated my fireplace that I was unhappy with for so long. Remember, if you have a crazy idea, just go for it. We only get one life and there is no need to postpone joy!