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Tiling A Fireplace

If you are reading this blog – then my guess is that you know how to use a Drill. We just used cement board and screws to build out this skeleton for us to tile over.You can do this any way that you want to.

Have you heard the expression “The devil is in the details”? MAHN! It’s true when you are putting together your backing for tile! Every seam of this part will affect the way the tile sits on the wall. All of the seams need to be aligned perfectly flat together It’s also important that the boards are straight vertically so that your tile doesn’t sit crooked. The other detail is in the protection prep:

This is not a short task, nor is there any way to do it cleanly so covering the whole room and taping carefully is really important. I used 3mil plastic that I dug out of the dumpster from one of our events last year. I also taped an aisle all the way to the front door because there was a lot of water on the tiles and in the grouting that could have really damaged the floor and/or been tracked around the house on shoes.

We also covered the exterior window so any stray water flipped off the wet-tile cutter kept off the window.

These are the products we had to buy because we have never had to use any of these products.

1. Is a cement mixer attachment for a drill.

2. Are 1/16″ tile spacers

3. Is a sponge for tiling – meaning it only has round edges, no sharp edges

4. Level Square

5. Square Notch Trowel

This is a picture of the items needed for mixing the mortar – a bag of quick set, a drill and a triangle trowel or something else to help mix it up.

Lastly, you need the tile. I was so excited to get the tile up on the wall that I forgot to take a photo of the larger tile. But here is a picture of what the Mosaic tiles looked like when I picked them up.

The first step is to prepare the mortar. My suggestion is to put a little bit of water in the bucket, then pour the mortar into the water and bucket until you can see a little mountain of dry sand. Then start mixing it. You can add water or mortar until the mixture is like pancake batter. Follow the directions on the bag. This bag said to let it sit for 10 minutes before it was used. So now you can let this sit for a little while.

We are lucky to have friends with tools so we borrowed this wet saw from a friend. It had all sorts of gadgets on it that helped cut the tiles straight – so as long as your measurements are right – then cut the tile according to the directions of your saw.

Now it’s time to set the tile. Here is a close up of the cement board we used.

You want to use a damp rag to get the cement board damp to take the mortar.

Then get mortar on a tool that can spread it around.

But not so much that it will fall off before you spread it around.

I smooshed it on to the wall

Then used an upward motion to spread it around so that it didn’t fall to the ground.

The thickness I put the mortar on with depended on how flat the surface was. Since I want the tiles to ultimately sit flat against each other I had to adjust in some areas and add more mortar in others.

Since my tiles were so big, I could only mortar one tile’s worth at a time; otherwise by time I got around to setting the second tile in the mortar – it had already dried.

After the mortar is smoothed around, use a trowel to give the mortar depth. I used an upward movement again for this so the mortar didn’t fall on the ground.

Here is what it looked like after using the trowel. It’s thick enough that it keeps shape but thin enough that it’s still slowly falling away. Pancake Batter is the best way to describe the right texture.

Then I put spacers between the tiles to ensure accurate distance from one tile to another.

Then use both hands to place the tile and smoosh it around to make sure the tile really sets in the mortar. For the first couple tiles I set – I heard a recommendation to take the tiles completely off the mortar and check it for coverage. I did this a couple times – which added time but I’m super sure that no tiles will fall off the wall now!

For the tiles that were hanging totally upside down we used styrofoam and old flooring to keep them in place for 24 hours. This was pretty creative use of materials. if you can think of a better way – then by all means! This was our rinky dink way of keeping the tiles in place!

Getting Closer!!!

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