Fixing & painting tile in front of a fireplace

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Old 11-19-10, 02:41 PM
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Question Fixing & painting tile in front of a fireplace

Just moved into a 52 year old home in good repair for the most part. I’m only moderately handy (with little tile experience) and somewhat limited on funds so I have to chose the “cheap, quick and half decent” home repair option when possible.

The floor tiles extending from the front to 18 inches out from the fireplace are 6” by 6” inch brick colored ceramics installed when the house was built. The center three tiles have a single long crack in a continuous line similar to the crack shown on a single tile in this video. The cracks have been there for many years (the house was in the family) so I’m guessing whatever settling that takes place has already taken place. Is this a reasonable guess?

Rather than replace the difficult to find tiles I plan on using the repair technique shown in the video above. Since there still may be some settling should I use more pliant filler and if so what should I use?

There was another video showing how to paint tiles but it simply looked too easy and the comments weren’t favorable. I seached this forum keying on “paint” and “ceramic” and “tile”. Here’s the summary of what I learned along with a few questions:

1. Painting tile is not recommended for counters or high traffic areas; this isn’t a problem here.

2. The surface must be cleaned with TSP then roughed up using silicon carbide sandpaper.

3. An oil based primer such as Zinsser Bullseye 1 2 3 is best.

4. The top coat is going to be the same brick color. What kind of paint is best for the top coat? Is heat a problem? The fireplace is used about ten times a year (using the store bought easy light log) and gives off only moderate heat behind glass doors.

5. The video recommends a sealer over the paint. Is this a good idea? If so any recomendations?

Comments and help appreciated.
 
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Old 11-19-10, 02:50 PM
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Tile's one of the more straight forward DIY jobs there is and not going to cost all that much, I'd replace them all
 
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Old 11-20-10, 05:18 AM
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I agree with Mitch! you will be a lot better off replacing the tile!

#1 - it might not be a high traffic area but the hearth is till likely to get some abuse every time you use the fireplace.

#2 - yes, but TSP needs to be rinsed well

#3 - a pigmented shellac like zinnser's BIN would be better

#4 - if you must paint tile it's better use a tile paint. Heat might not be a problem although it would be best to find out how hot the tiles get next to the opening.

#5 - a clear sealer might help but it won't eliminate scratches. The scratches would be in the clear coat so they might not be as noticeable.

The money you spend on painting the tile will go along ways toward buying the supplies you need to retile. As already stated - it's best to replace the tile!
 
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Old 11-20-10, 06:50 AM
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If you need a third opinion......well, you're only talking about 24 tiles, according to your measurements. You have more than one broken tile, so there's your starting point. It is a good weekend diy project, and we're always here.
 
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Old 11-22-10, 07:28 AM
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Thanks for the advice. Replacing now sounds like the best idea so I'll go with that.

PS Sorry I didn't get back sooner. I thought I had "email notification of replies" set up right but I'll check (I get emails from my posts in another forum not related to DIY).
 
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Old 02-07-11, 12:08 PM
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I ripped out the tile before doing the hardwood floor work (along with painting, electrical etc.) mentioned in this thread. Fortunately we have a den for living and a basement for storage so it's OK to proceed slowly!

The floor had settled somewhat as you move away from the wall - the tiles were flush at the fireplace entrance but showed their complete edges 18" out. After chipping away the old thin-set (or the 1958 version of thin-set) I also ended up chipping away some of the concrete base (I used a small sledge and pry-bar, later a regular hammer and chisel to get the remaining thin-set). The concrete base was and is cracked in spots (including underneath the crack I was going to paint) and still so high (especially in the middle and 18 inches out) that the tiles would not be flush with the front of the floor if I re-installed.

Here are some pictures:

Area showing rough concrete with sample (junk) six by six tile

Another view

The floor looks better without the dust. Note that quite a bit of the original concrete came up with the thin-set yet in the middle near the front the concrete is still too high.

Here's the whole fireplace.

My guess is that I'm going to have to remove some or all of the concrete. The concrete is about four to eight inches thick (looking up at the well in between the floor joists from the basement). Is this a DIY job and if so what is the right tool for this? Home Depot rents these:

Electric Breaker

Demolition Hammer

They both look a little scary but a hand sledge was killing my shoulder. My SO wants to hire a contractor but I still wonder if this best done myself. I have no tiling experience and no plans to do any more tiling so any experience gained would be somewhat wasted.

Comments and help appreciated.
 
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Old 02-07-11, 02:10 PM
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What do you intend to do with the hearth? finished product?

If you are going to retile, I would think you could leave the concrete in place. If it's dusty, it would probably need a bonding agent to make the new thinset adhere well.
 
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Old 02-07-11, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
What do you intend to do with the hearth? finished product?
Keep in mind that the floor refinishing, painting and electrical work was the important part of the job; a similar tile without the cracks mentioned in the OP might be acceptable, even if it doesn't blend in any better than before. I tore out the hearth tile first since it made floor sanding a lot easier and only now realize I may have problems leveling new tile.

Best/easiest choice might be to re-tile with decent quality six by six inch tiles (the original size). My understanding is ceramic or porcelain is best; am I correct?. Since we only need 30 or 33 tiles we could afford to get good ones.


If you are going to retile, I would think you could leave the concrete in place. If it's dusty, it would probably need a bonding agent to make the new thinset adhere well.
Let's assume I re-tile over the existing concrete and accept it's going to come out a bit high eighteen inches out.

I also have to fill in low spots (especially near the right back corner were I was too aggressive with the sledge). Can thinset (applied a day or two before the tile) be used to fill the low areas or do I need another type of concrete/cement mix?

After cleaning the existing cement I'll look for bonding agent. At the big box store I saw a bottle of bonding agent (for about $23) meant (per the label) to help thinset adhere to a plywood base. Is this the right stuff? I'd ask the clerks but they don't seem to know what to use for anything in my experience.

Thanks for your help so far.
 
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Old 02-07-11, 04:06 PM
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BTW, this thread (found while trying to Google thinset bonding agent) has so much conflicting advice and horror stories I've become increasingly apprehensive.
 
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