We decided that before moving into our new home the old moldy carpet needed to be replaced. Naturally that meant that the original hearth from 1972 was also going to have to be ripped up and re-tiled before we installed 600 square feet of laminate. In my dream world I’d spend countless hours and dollars coming up with the most amazing mosaic hearth but I was short on time and cash which meant I had to quickly muster up an easy to install, inexpensive and pretty hearth with only $150 bucks!
My design theory was to take the cheapest 12×12 tiles I could find and use a tile cutter to create different sized shapes in order to make it look “interesting.” Unfortunately beige was the cheapest color tile I could find and if you’ve read my Beige House blog post you’ll know why this color is so offensive to me. Still I attempted to work with the beige tiles and after a few different layouts and broken tiles only to find that nothing could help the fact that nothing could help the blandeous beige.
With budget on the brain I went back to the hardware store with fingers crossed that I’d find some intriguing clearance tiles. Luck was on my side that day because I found these great back splash tile 12×12 sheets for 8 bucks each! The mix of natural stone and glossy onyx was a perfect compliment to my neutral base color. A great bonus was the fact that each tiny square was attached to mesh, making it a breeze to cut out and install.
Material and Tool Costs (for 12 square feet of hearth)
$45 15 porcelain 12×12 tiles (I really only needed 11)
$20 for a tile cutter
$16 for 2 sheets of little tiles on mesh (Mine were on sale)
$20 for a bucket of Pre-Mixed Floor Patch (we got the big bucket because the rest of the floor needed patching too.)
$15 bucket of Thin-Set
$10 1qt pre-mixed grout
$0 for float, trowel, trough (borrowed from friend)
$0 for air-compressor and air hammer (borrowed from a friend)
Add 8 bucks for spacers if you are the measuring type. I used my little tiles as the spacers.
You will also want:
- Chalk line
- Knee pads
- Protective goggles
How I did it
1) Knocked out old tile and chiseled out old mastic. I couldn’t imagine doing it without the air hamer. Next time I’d wear ear protection.
2) Filled in holes and leveled out area with quick set concrete (Father In Law did this). Let dry for 4 hours. Now this is also the step where you’d screw in hearth board but I opted not to since it would have added too much height.
3) Did a few dry runs with the layout and ended up cutting my 12 x 12 tiles in half to disperse the beige. I also custom cut a few squares to get around some awkward spaces.
4) Slopped down thin-set in 1 foot sections and only put down the large tiles using one small tile for spacing in-between large tiles.
5) Once large tiles were secure and spaced properly I added a layer of mastic in-between the large tiles (to add to the height since the little tiles were thinner than the larger tiles) and inserted strips of my little tiles.
6) Filled in single little tiles where needed.
7) Waited 24 hours for mastic to set.
8) Added grout and whala!
So if you are looking for a unique and inexpensive way to DIY your hearth this might be for you. The demo and prep were the hardest parts and required the most tools/energy which is why I put this project into the moderate to somewhat difficult category. My biggest suggestion is to not be afraid to integrate tiles commonly associated with kitchens or bathrooms. Just use them sparingly as accent pieces.
Check out how Cliff installed the laminate floors here. Have fun and craft on!