10 Stylish Tile Options for Your Fireplace Surround

HGTV heads to the Ann Sacks showroom at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center to check out classic and cutting-edge fireplace surround tile options, from interlocking wood to hand-painted terra cotta.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Tile Styles, Explained

With a wide range of styles, price points and applications available, the tile you choose for your fireplace surround can make or break its intended look. As this wall of styles at the Ann Sacks showroom at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center demonstrates, there's an option, color and material out there to fit any homeowner's taste.

Striated Naxos

Naxos, a white marble from Greece, is a great fit for glamorous fireplace surrounds. Commonly available with striated detail, Naxos adds both texture and subtle pattern, a great alternative to solid marble, which can result in a heavy, overly rich look. When striated marble is applied to a fireplace surround, it's best to minimize grout lines by choosing a shade identical to or similar to the color of the tile.

Handcrafted Crackle Brick

Subway tile has become a versatile modern classic since it fits effortlessly into almost any style of home; however, it's mainly used in wet spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and powder rooms. For a similar look befitting of a fireplace, handcrafted crackle brick is a great choice. Available in sizes identical to or similar to ceramic subway tile, handcrafted ceramic crackle brick has a slightly imperfect look, offering a play on texture and a variation in color. To showcase the rough edges of the tile, use a grout similar to its coloring. When a contrasting grout is used, it will detract from the edges.

Metallic Porcelain

Metallic porcelain tile is excellent for bringing a modern, moody touch to a fireplace. Depending on the tile chosen, metallics are often installed without grout, instead butted up against one another for a seamless look. Since metallic porcelain smudges easily, it requires more cleaning and maintenance than other tiles. If grout is used with metallic tile, it's important to use un-sanded grout since sanded will scratch the surface.

Wood-Look Porcelain

Most woods are not recommended for use around a fireplace surround due to flammability. To bring a similar, fireproof look to a wall, consider wood-look porcelain tile. Available in planks, this adds the look and feel of wood to a fireplace surround without the danger associated with true lumber.

Sculptural Midcentury Ceramic

Midcentury modern architecture is known for geometric shapes, asymmetry and a heavy use of rounded edges. To bring a touch of midcentury style to a fireplace surround, consider sculptural midcentury ceramic. Once applied to a wall, it creates the look and feel of something one of a kind. Higher in cost (commonly offered between $50 and $80 per square foot), this can truly elevate a basic wall of sheet rock to high design stature.

Carrara Marble

A classic hit with designers and architects alike, white Carrara marble is a fit for almost any style of architecture or design. Available in the medium price point, Carrara can take on completely different characteristics depending on how it's finished. Honed Cararra often evokes more of a relaxed feeling, while polished tends to appear more glamorous or formal.

Hand-Painted Terra Cotta

Although terra-cotta tile has been a mainstay for homes in Mexico, the American Southwest, Southern California and South Florida, it's making its way into homes of all styles due to a recent update. Many tile manufacturers are now offering hand-painted terra-cotta tiles featuring modern, traditional, transitional, tribal and Southwestern patterns, which can add artisanal appeal to a fireplace surround. This tile is a great fit for homeowners interested in a casual look, especially since the imperfections and inconsistencies in each tile add to the eclectic, collected look.

Tesserae Mosaic

Mosaic wall tile is typically found in linear patterns, but recently, manufacturers have started offering mosaics with elaborate shapes created in a style known as tesserae. This type of design is made by tightly fitting tiny pieces of stone together to create interesting, complex shapes, such as fish scale or damask. When adding tesserae mosaic to a fireplace surround, keep in mind how different scales of patterns read from far away and close up. In an extra-large great room, a small-scale pattern may simply appear cluttered and busy. Conversely, small fireplace surrounds covered in patterns with large repeats will end up cutting the pattern off, detracting from the intended look. Oftentimes, the best fit for a fireplace surround is a medium-scale pattern.

Dimensional Wood Panels

Similar to tongue-and-groove wood flooring, interlocking dimensional wood panels can add architectural interest to a fireplace surround. Available in a wide range of styles and popular with contemporary and midcentury modern homeowners, most dimensional wood panel systems are finished with a protective varnish that makes it safe for use around a fireplace.

Architectural Relief

Made to bring classic architectural accents to walls, floors and ceilings, architectural relief tiles are an excellent way to make a fireplace appear handmade and high-end. Popularly used in art deco and art nouveau interiors, the tiles are made of stoneware similar to that used for serving food, and they're fired at a higher temperature than other styles of tiles to allow for a range of peaks and valleys in the tile's color and shading. Created in kilns, architectural relief tiles are also known for uneven shadows and surfaces.

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