Should I paint or tile this hearth or what?

purrusNovember 29, 2009

Hi everyone!

I'm new to this particular forum and am looking for some ideas. I think I want to put small slate tiles atop the black brick that's on this hearth. The problem is that I'm not sure how to handle the bullnose area that would have to go over the edge of the step at the bottom...I've never done that before and I've never seen slate in that shape. How would one handle that transition?

Also, I'd want to keep the same fireplace doors--would tiling mean I'd have to get a new door because the old one wouldn't fit?

Of course, if it wouldn't look right at all to use slate tile, would you suggest painting it?


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I think the slate would look good, I personally don't like painted brick. Besides you would have to use some type of high temperature paint on the hearth. The picture is a bit fuzzy so it's hard to see what the clearance is from the brick to the bottom of the doors. The slate won't add more than 1/2 to 5/8" so if you have that clearance you're okay. Otherwise you have an issue - not easy to trim metal doors like that neatly and it's quite a job to remove all the brick. As far as the front transition, I've never seen bullnose slate tiles, but maybe you can find them. You can't successfully miter the slate tiles or make a built up edge like with granite as their thickness isn't uniform so as to create a neat joint. One way to do it is to install the hearth top tiles so that they overlap the front edge enough so that the vertical front tiles fit under them. I think this looks good, the only downside being that it will be apparent that the top isn't very thick. Just some thoughts, hope it helps. BTW, make sure you use fortified thinset mortar to install the tiles and don't use the premixed kind that comes in a bucket.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 8:11PM
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I'm just the opposite. I don't like the looks of tiled fireplaces except where the tile is used as an accent around the hearth opening.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 8:25AM
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Well, painting is obviously the more budget-friendly thing to do, and if I decide to change it later I can always tile over it, right?

Thanks to you both for your opinions...I guess I'll paint in the short term and live with it and see how I like it.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 2:44PM
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As an alternative to paint you might also want to look into staining the brick. I am about to use a lime whitewash over our brickwork downstairs to get a sort of super white slightly textured look, (think a picture of houses on Greek Islands) but whitewash can also be tinted with mineral pigments. There are mineral based paints and stains as well. I've included a link to a neat brick staining company and you could do a search for silicate mineral paints to see some other examples.

Mineral paints become part of the brick itself and so the heat from the fireplace is virtually a non-issue. Lots of colors as well. It is fairly expensive but lasts virtually forever.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dyebrick brick stain

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 7:57AM
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Yes you can tile over it later. However, make sure you use a high temperature paint and if you use a glossy paint you may have trouble getting tile to adhere without sandblasting.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2009 at 8:00PM
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