Renovated Fire Place


Ever since we moved into our home some 7 years ago, we haven’t particularly liked our fire place.  The tile was so bland and I don’t care for large 12×12 inch tiles on fire places either.  We finally got around to renovating it all a couple weeks before Christmas.

I loved how it turned out and I am so glad we were able to finish it in time for it to be beautifully decorated for Christmas!

I am not going to give detailed steps on this project, but just the main parts.  As far as this project goes, my husband did the mantle all by himself but I helped grout, clean, and seal the tile.  I would say this is a medium sized project.  It only takes an hour or two for each major step, but it does end up taking several days because of drying times, etc.

renovated fire place

  • Maple plywood ($50)
  • Jamocha stain
  • polyurethene
  • sponge brush
  • table saw
  • slate tile ($.97 each at Lowes)
  • Dark brown grout with sand in it premixed ($27 at Lowes)
  • tile float
  • mastic
  • cheesecloth
  • large sponges
  • bucket of hot water
  • trowel
slate tile fireplace

Our fire place BEFORE and before we put in the hardwood floors too!

Game Plan:

1.  My husband built the mantle out of maple plywood and basically created a box to place over the other mantle.  He used plywood because it was cheaper and then cut the plywood at 45 degree angles so you can’t tell it’s not solid wood.

2.  After building the mantle box, he stained it, let it dry, and then applied two coats of polyurethane with a sponge brush, allowing for drying time and sanding between the two coats.

3.  He basically nailed it to the mantle and then we puttied the holes.

4.  We removed the old tile which ended up putting several holes in the wall because the tile wouldn’t come off so my husband eventually used an exacto knife to cut the drywall and that was a much quicker and cleaner way of removing the tile!  The downside was we had to go buy a piece of drywall and install that, however, it was the better of two evils!

renovated fire placerenovated fire place

maple wood modern mantle

5. After the drywall was up, he used a trowel to spread the mastic and put the slate tile on.  This was a bit difficult because the slate tiles are different thicknesses and sizes, but he managed to make it look good!

renovated fire place

renovated fire place

6.  Next we sealed the slate tile so it wouldn’t be stained by the grout.  This is an important step when you’re working with natural stones.  The kind we used came in a bottle and I just sprayed it on.  We did two coats.

7.  The next day we grouted the tile which was not a fun task at all.  The slate tile has lots of cracks and grooves in it which makes lots of places for the grout to get stuck in.  Using floats, we pushed the grout between the tiles and did small sections at a time because it is really hard to get the grout off these tiles.  I highly recommend doing small sections and wish we would have done even smaller sections because some of the grout had already dried by the time we got to it.

8.  To clean off the grout we got two buckets of hot water and with two damp sponges began wiping, wiping, and wiping.  For the next 30 minutes, we wiped!  Definitely the worst part of the whole thing!

9.  My husband used a very fine grit of sandpaper to remove some of the dried grout and then we used cheesecloth to polish and remove the last bits of grout off of the face of the tiles.

10. Lastly, we sealed the grout with the same sealant we used for the tile.

I am so pleased with the results!

new slate tile fireplace


install slate tile fire place


renovated fire place

renovated fire placerenovated fire place

Like the wreath hanging above our mantle?  Here’s my post on how to make the Christmas Wreath.

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