There aren’t many tile projects that can be accomplished in one day, but this was the exception.  The homeowner is getting a house ready to sell and the old greenish marble-looking tiles from the 80’s weren’t cutting it for her.  Instead, she wanted something simple and attractive that would compliment the rest of their home.

It wasn’t a lot of tile, so I thought I’d try to finish it in one day and save me an extra trip.  The trick to this is to use fast setting thinset mortar.  (Here are some examples from TEC.) The old tiles came out very easily so I was soon cutting the new tiles to install.  When using the quick setting mortar I try to cut as many tiles as possible ahead of time so I can install them as quick as possible before the mortar starts to thicken up on me.  It works well if you don’t have a large area to do.

Note:  Fast-setting mortars are used more often in commercial applications where speed is often a priority so the business can be back in business.

Various brands of mortar have different set up times, but generally you can grout in just a few hours.  So, get the tile down, go do some errands, then come back and grout at the end of the day.  It also works great when tiling at an home’s entrance when there’s only a small area involved.  Getting it done quickly means that I get out of there quicker and my clients can use their home quicker as well.

It’s not for very many situations, but in cases like this fireplace surround, fast-setting mortar is the perfect solution to get it done quickly.

TILE TIP:  For fireplaces like this one, it helps to consider the dimensions of the firebox and mantle in relation to the dimensions of the tile you are using.  For example, if your firebox is 20″ across, 2″ or even 10″ tiles may work great, but using 12″ tiles may leave a small awkward piece on either side.  Sometimes, this is hard to avoid, but a little extra thought when picking out your tile will make the finished project remarkable.