A fireplace is often a centerpiece in a home’s main gathering area, just inside the front door. This one was no different. Also like many older homes in East Nashville, the hearth tile had some cracks and consisted of older basic white 3″ x 6″ subway tile. The homeowners wanted to dress it up a little to match their style.
A hearth is a great place to get creative with tile. There isn’t that much tile involved so the cost of the tile is minimal, meaning you can splurge if you want and get something really unique. When I arrived at this project to lay the new tile for the hearth, the homeowner had already laid out the tiles which had a worn look with a variety of designs resembling a stencil or an aged quilt. The pattern wasn’t obvious, but the effect was dramatic.
Though there was a crack through the old tile, the old hearth was completely solid with the tiles still holding on well. If you start chipping away at a hearth like this, you’ll likely find that the tiles are completely joined to the thick mortar bed beneath. If you must take it out, you’ll probably end up completely removing the supporting mortar bed and starting again from scratch. To avoid this expense and mess, I was able to lay the new tile directly over the old using a ‘Flexbond” thinset mortar meant for this application.
Adding a layer of tile resulted in needing to add some oak trim around the tile to finish the edges. Whenever I have tile meeting some other surface like an oak threshold or trim, I caulk the joint with a grout-caulk matched to whatever grout I’m using. The trick to keeping this neat is to use blue painter’s tape to mask both sides before you caulk. As soon as you’ve smoothed the caulk with your finger you can remove the tape and be amazed at the perfectly straight and clean edges.