December 3, 2019

Ask the Expert

Fireplace tiles; a practical and attractive solution

The fireplace is generally the focal point of the living room. When selecting a material to frame it tiles for fireplace embellishment are a practical and attractive choice. Ideas for fireplace surround are wide and varied, ranging from mosaic to ceramic, porcelain, marble and other natural stone finishes. The use of encaustic fireplace tiles in the UK dates back to the Victorian period when ornate tiles would frame the typical cast iron fireplaces of the time. Back then the common ceramics used for tiling a fireplace were one of the first heat resistant materials. These fire surround tiles were highly decorative and reflected the tastes of that historic era. Nowadays tiles remain a popular choice for fireplaces and provide a wide range of options. Here below we consider some practical issues and advice for selecting fireplace surround tiles.    

What tiles are suitable for a fireplace?

Whether it be an open fire, electric, gas or stove tiles can be a practical and attractive option for both the chimney firebox and surrounds. The main consideration when it comes to cladding the fireplace surround is heat resistance. Because of that options such as fireplace stone tile and fireplace ceramic tile as well as porcelain tile fireplace surrounds are all excellent choices. Their heat absorption properties are based on their density which allows them to withstand great temperature differentials. And not just for fireplace surrounds but also as a decorative backing material for stoves and other heat generating appliances. 

Decorative fireplace tiles

The interior design scheme will determine the most appropriate colour and texture for each option whether it be porcelain, ceramic or stone. White high gloss fire surrounds for a minimalist approach, slate tiles for rustic or more contemporary fireplace designs. Patterned fireplace tiles can provide a more decorative finish that allows great freedom of expression coupled with practical performance. The use of these heat proof tiles for fireplaces means that the heat gets reflected into the space with significant energy savings.  

The do’s and don’ts of fireplace tiles

The tiling around fireplaces is a specialist area. Here below we look at doubts and recommendations regarding how to tile inside a fireplace, how to go about replacing fireplace tiles etc.  

How to clean fireplace tiles?

First remove all the dust with a vacuum cleaner. For the grouting between the tiles use a specialist product and a toothbrush. The tiles themselves should be cleaned with soap and hot water sprayed directly onto the tiles. Use a damp sponge to remove the dirt and soot.

What tiles are suitable for a fireplace? 

Regarding how to tile inside a fireplace a herringbone pattern or shaped tiles are currently very trendy and look great when there’s no fire. To replace fireplace tiles in the future make sure that you keep some spares aside when laying them during construction works.

Do I need special tiles for a fireplace? 

Heat resistant tiles are the only suitable ones to use. Remember that an appropriate adhesive must also be used otherwise there is the danger of falling tiles.

Can you tile inside a fireplace?  

Yes but the chimney firebox must be in good condition. Heat resistant boards or panels can be used to provide a backing for tiles in case of a damaged chimney.

Real fireplace ideas

There is nothing like a real fire, although requiring more work and maintenance the warmth of the flames and specific ambience created is unique. With the right cladding and mantle piece the real fireplace becomes a focal point in the room. Wall tiles around the fireplace can underline its presence by framing and exaggerating its scale. As well as defining a practical hearth area directly in front which is required for safety reasons.


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