This weekend I packed up my tools and took my big yellow SUV up to Ann Arbor, MI– Home of the Wolverines.
There was a fireplace in need of some serious help. And tile. And a little paint.
The fireplace belongs to MysteryMan’s sister, who bought her first house right about the same time we dug that really big hole in the ground that needed to be filled in with the addition to our house. So we haven’t had a lot of time to help her with all of those first-time-homeowner things, like moving in furniture and painting every wall in the house.
But when True Value asked me to be a part of their DIY Blog Squad, I knew that the fireplace was something I was adding to my DIY Road Trip list. It was generally in good shape, except for the eighties-throwback green marble. Green marble? That was in fashion at some point, right?
Um… why was that in fashion again?
Okay, as a person who once thought that slap bracelets were the height of accessorizing, I shouldn’t be hating on any eighties fashion trends… but that doesn’t mean the green marble didn’t have to go.
Aided and abetted by MysteryMan’s mom (who picked out all of the colors and materials for this project) we headed off to the Stadium Hardware True Value in Ann Arbor for some supplies…
This is my favorite kind of hardware store. Aisles crammed full of goodies, guys who know what they’re talking about (and help without being patronizing), a really friendly home-town atmosphere, and, of course, they’re all Michigan fans.
We needed some tiling supplies, and for a smaller hardware store, this was a good selection.
They had about 10 different colors of pre-mixed grout to choose from, and we found one that went with the tile.
Our shopping list also consisted of:
- Tile adhesive
- Notched trowel
- Tile spacers
- Putty knife
- Grout float
- Painters tape
- Paint, color matched to a paint chip we had for “Moonlight Beach”
In short, everything you need to vanquish an ugly green marble fireplace.
Tiling a Fireplace
Tiling a fireplace is a lot like tiling anything else. Because we were adhering the tile right to the marble, it required finding the right kind of adhesive (I chose one that would adhere to concrete-a similar surface type- and was appropriate for stone/marble tiles.)
For in-depth step-by-step instructions to installing mosaic wall tile, check out this post in my tiling series.
As with any tiling, half the battle is in the layout. Don’t start slapping glue on and sticking your tile just anywhere. These half-inch tiles were a perfect size because they fit right on the lip of the marble. We chose to overlap the face tiles over them, it does leave an unfinished edge of the tiles exposed, but the spacing worked better, and it gave the fireplace a cleaner corner than a grout line would have.
I ended up only needing to “nip” two tiles in half for the entire fireplace but it did require finessing the spacing between tiles a bit to make everything line up correctly.
I chose to leave a larger grout line at the top of the fireplace to accommodate for the fact that the whole thing was out of square. From any level other than kneeling down eye-level with the fireplace, you won’t eve see it.
I’ve mentioned before that mosaic tiles come either with mesh on the back that you leave on the tile when you place it, or with paper on the front, that is removed once the tile is placed. These were the “mesh on the back” kind of tiles. It made it easier to see the spacing as the tiles went in, and clean up any adhesive that smooshed out in the placement… but that mesh is a pain to remove so that it isn’t visible on the corners (of which there were a lot) or to make spacing adjustments.
As you can see, big improvement, even in the early stages.
A team effort…
Just because I was chief-tiler didn’t mean everyone else got to sit back and watch the football game all day. Well, okay, a little bit that’s what it meant… but the tile was looking so good that everyone decided to pitch in to get the wall behind the fireplace painted.
Two coats of paint and a lot of tile later, we’d made some significant progress on this fireplace makeover.
The adhesive wasn’t dry enough to start grouting over the weekend, so you’ll have to wait for the exiting conclusion of this DIY Road Trip… coming soon.
Requisite Disclaimer: True Value was so taken with my holey-jeans, sawdust covered ball cap, and love of my drill, that they asked me to be a part of the DIY Squad, and better yet, they’re paying me for it. They are also sponsoring the materials for the DIY Road Trip projects, but don’t think that means they are buying my affection with lumber and spray paint. As always, I speak my mind – good or bad—and you can expect to hear my unfiltered opinions with occasionally incorrect grammar and excessive punctuation. We keep it real here people.