Tiling the Fireplace Surround

September 28, 2020

Filed in: DIY, Living Room

I’ve always been a little intimidated to tile anything. I love the way tile looks, but it seemed kind of complicated. Tiling the fireplace surround seemed like the perfect project to tile for the first time.

Fireplace Progress

My fireplace and built-in wall have been quite the process so far! If you’d like to check out some of my posts leading up to this point, here’s what I’ve done:

Selecting the Tile

I wanted a larger scale marble tile that would end up looking more like a marble slab once it was up. I found some from Lowes that I thought would work great. Bonus: it was less than $1 per tile!

Project Prep

I’ll let you in on a secret: I didn’t actually use thin-set on the tile. I used Musselbound Tile Membrane (affiliate link) instead. I’ve seen a few others use this technique, and I thought I’d give it a try. I wouldn’t use this on a surface that would get wet or on a floor, but for what I was needing it seemed like a good fit.

It basically comes in a roll and both sides are adhesive, one is for attaching to your surface and the other is for attaching the tile. You can apply it directly to primed drywall.

I adhered the musselbound to the area around the fireplace and cut it to size with a razor. I pushed it into place as securely as I could with a grout float.

Cutting the Tile

Next, I laid out the tile to get the pattern I wanted before cutting it.

Once I had it set up just the way I wanted, it was time to break out the wet saw! Since this was my first time tiling, I purchased a wet saw just for this project. I anticipate more tiling projects to come in the future so it seemed like a worthwhile investment.

I decided to go with the Ryobi Wet Saw. (affiliate link) I have quite a few Ryobi tools and I’ve been happy with all of them.

Based on reviews, I bought a separate blade for the saw and used that instead of the one that came with it. It seemed to work well.

I’m so glad I gave tiling a try, because I ended up really enjoying it! Once I got the hang of the wet saw it wasn’t intimidating at all. Since this was larger tile (12×12 inches) I did have to cut half and then flip over to cut the other half of the tile, which wasn’t a big deal.

Once I had cut all the tile, I laid it out again just as I wanted to put it up on the wall.

Placing the Tile

I was finally ready to put the tile in place! This part was pretty simple. I removed the paper from the front of the musselbound and then stuck each tile in place. I pressed them in for about 5 seconds per tile to adhere.

At this point, I was a little worried because it didn’t have that marble slab look I was going for. But it was nothing a little grout and caulk couldn’t fix!

I used this grout (I only needed one small container since there wasn’t much to grout) and this caulk, and what a difference it made! Here it is with the fireplace installed.

It is kind of subtle, but makes a huge difference, especially in person.


I’m so glad I overcame my fear of tiling and tried this out! Tiling the fireplace surround ended up being a lot of fun.



  1. Marilyn J Myers says:

    It looks great Kristen!

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