The nicotine stained, faux pink veined marble on our fireplace had to go. It was the last trace of 90s “model home” in the main living area. Once we completed our open concept kitchen renovation, the fireplace seemed to mock us with its ugliness.
Luckily though, it has good bones. We like the trim and mantel, and figured tiling directly on top of the faux marble would be an easy way to update the look. We decided the small 1”x1” square mosaic tiles mounted on mesh would be the simplest to install since we could just cut the mesh pieces to size with scissors. No need to bother with a tile saw!
Our budget for this project was $100, and we ended up spending $104 since we splurged on a new trowel. The mosaic glass tiles we found at Home Depot, called Ivory Iridescent Glass, were only $4.99/sf which was a really good deal. Most of the comparable mesh mounted tiles we saw ran between $10-15/sf.
In addition to the tile sheets, we purchased ceramic tile adhesive, non-sanded grout (for up to 1/8” spacing), a grout trowel, and a sponge. (We already had a bucket and a grout float.)
The Bear was thrilled to open the tile packages, using her big girl scissors, while we laid out the bottom row of tile.
For the first tile, we made sure to line up the upper right corner cut out of the tile with the bottom left corner of the fireplace box. We had to cheat the tile away from the outside edge slightly to line it up. If we hadn’t done this though, we would have had to cut the tiles with a wet saw. Later, we will fill in any gaps around the perimeter with while caulk (the same color as the trim) so it shouldn’t be noticeable.
With the bottom row of tiles ready, Rocksteady spread the tile adhesive.
I quickly applied the tile sheets across the bottom row, while Rocksteady spread adhesive up the left side. I made sure to press lightly so the adhesive didn’t come up through the cracks too much.
We used a small spatula to spread the adhesive all the way to the edges. Using leftover cut tiles, we filled in the last few inches of the row.
We tiled up both sides first, instead of working clockwise. That way, the top row will line up with both sides and be level across the top.
We were lucky that the tiles fell even with the top of the fireplace cutout! After finishing the top row, we let the adhesive dry for a few hours before grouting.
Next, Rocksteady mixed the grout, and I taped the cardboard backing from the tile packages on the floor to protect the floor tile from spills.
We spread the grout over the tiles, working quickly so we could sponge up the excess. It’s easy to remove the grout from the tile surface when it is wet, but much more difficult once it dries. (I should know. When we first bought the house, we scraped the popcorn ceilings and refinished the surfaces with drywall mud where needed. We were too lazy, too frazzled, too excited? to cover the floors first. We ended up with about a gallon of drywall mud in golf ball sized drops dried across our kitchen, foyer, and bar area tiles. It took weeks to scrape, scrub, beg the dried mud up! Although that had nothing on the “toddlers let loose on brownie pan, adults let loose on beer pong” party disaster…)
It took a few passes of grouting and wiping to fill the cracks completely. Once the tile was all grouted, we stood back to enjoy the view.
We still need to add caulk the outer edges where the tile didn’t quite reach. Too bad it’s 90 degrees here. I’m in the mood for a fire tonight!