How to Improve Your Fireplace

A dated fireplace is dressed up with molding and slate tiles.

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A new slate surround, crown molding and fluted columns give this fireplace a sophisticated look.

Materials and Tools:

12"x12" slate tile
mortar
grout
tile spacers
air compressor and hoses
wet saw
brad nailer
bucket
drill
finish nailer
notched trowel
painting supplies
sponges
safety glasses

Safety Alert: Always wear eye protection and follow proper safety precautions when working with power tools or pneumatic tools.

Before

Steps:

1. Measure the square footage and dimensions of the brick area you wish to cover. Also take measurements of the mantel and decide which areas to "bulk up" with decorative trim.

2. Cover one side of the slate tiles with a matte finish masonry sealer. This will make it easier to clean off unwanted grout and mortar. Trim the slate tiles to size using a wet saw.

3. Mix up your quickset mortar and begin with the facade. Apply a layer of mortar with a notched trowel to both the surface of the brick and backside of the slate tile. Add tile spacers in between tiles to leave room for grout.

4. When the facade is finished, tile the return, making sure to build a wood frame so the tiles are "upside down" and do not fall while they are setting. Let the tile sit overnight and return the next day to grout.

5. After the mortar has cured overnight, remove the spacers and fill the joints with grout. To speed up this step, fill a sandwich bag with grout, cut off one corner and squeeze the grout directly into the joints. Remove any excess grout with a plastic putty knife or wood shim (metal tools will scratch the slate). Wait 20 minutes, then wipe the slate clean with a wet sponge.

6. Add desired decorative trim elements. Prime and paint.

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