How to tile a fireplace

Learn how to tile your fireplace and create a practical base for a woodburning stove with this advice from Sian Astley

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Essential kit

Before you start to tile, make sure you have the right tools. You’ll need:

  • Your chosen tiles (see below)
  • A self-levelling compound
  • Primer
  • Tile cutter
  • Adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Tiler’s trowel
  • Grout
  • Soft grouting float
  • Long spirit level
  • Short spirit level
  • Blade
  • Tile spacers, if needed
  • Sponge
  • Clean water
  • Protective eyewear
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Tape measure
  • Piece of cardboard


Related articles: How to create a working fireplace | The ultimate guide to choosing a woodburner


5. Get rid of dust

Brush your hearth to get rid of any dust, which could create a build up and prevent a smooth finish.

6. Prime the surface

Apply a tiling primer to improve adhesion between the surface and tile adhesive. Wait for this to dry.


7. Get ready to tile

Prepare your adhesive first, according to the manufacturer instructions. Measure a centre line in the fireplace and use a pencil to draw a mark at the front and back of the wall and floor, ensuring the line comes above where the tiles will sit, so you can see it throughout the tiling process.

Start applying the adhesive at the back of the area using a trowel to transfer it from the bucket and spread evenly using a tiler’s trowel to around 2-3cms thick. Use the grooved edge of the tiler’s trowel to make ridges in the adhesive, which will help the tiles to stick.

8. Begin tiling

Lay the central tile first and work away from it. Do a small area at a time to ensure accuracy. Place each tile onto the small area prepared with the adhesive, placing tile spacers in between each if the tiles are not already on a mesh background.

Use your spirit levels to continuously check that each tile is level with the next and gently push each tile into the adhesive, being careful not to push the adhesive up through the gaps too much.

9. Clean the area

Use a sponge and clean water to gently wash each tiled area as you finish it, waiting a few minutes until the tiles have begun to stick, to remove any adhesive on the tile surface. It’s good practice to change the water regularly to ensure it is clean.

10. Continue tiling

Carry on applying the tiles, checking levels and cleaning the surface until the whole area is covered and apply the upstands and skirting tiles last.


11. Check grout lines

When tiling, the adhesive ill creep up the grout lines, which can create a speckled finish once the grout is applied. Use a blade to gently prize away any adhesive in the gaps. Wipe down the surface with a sponge and clean water.



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