1. The Presence of the Fireplace
Besides being the heart of the home, the fireplace is considered one of the home’s major interior architectural features and can set both the mood and the style of the room. With that in mind, there are many things to consider when selecting handmade tile for your fireplace. Whether starting from scratch or modifying an existing fireplace, taking the time to learn about fireplaces both past and present will give you the guidance to determine what style will best fit your home and you.
2. Fireplace Codes
Unlike other areas of the home where tile is installed such as kitchen backsplashes and bathrooms, fireplaces have codes as to what can be applied to the front face, hearth and where. Handmade ceramic tile is a non-combustible material and therefore may be used on both the hearth and fireplace face, right up to the opening. If you are planning to use other materials with the tile in these locations, please make sure to check the current International Residential Codes (IRC) or your city hall for additional codes.
3. Fire Resistant Qualities of Ceramic Tile
Handmade ceramic tiles are one of the best products to use for your fireplace surround or hearth. At both these locations there is a certain area that must be non-combustible. Ceramic tile is completely fireproof at any temperature. It will not burn or feed the fire. It will not give off toxic gases, smoke or fumes during a fire. Ceramic handmade tile also provides protection for structural surfaces during fires.
4. Do I Need a Designer or Architect to Design my Fireplace?
Designers and architects are people who understand space, design and color. They typically cost 15% of a project but when you have large projects their insights and knowledge can save you more than their fees.
If you don’t have one and feel you need some help, Josh will help you find your vision and pull it together. Josh has been working with tile since 1995 and is the designer and maker for the handmade tiles at Clay Squared to Infinity.
5. Determining your Fireplace Style
Given the architectural importance of the fireplace, there are 3 distinct categories from which to reference your style. They are historic, regional and the homeowner’s own expression of creativity. In the historic category you would be looking at the style of the home. Some styles to consider are: Victorian, Colonial, Tudor, Arts and Crafts, Cape Cod, Mid Century, Modern or Contemporary. As for regional, in the Midwest we have been known for rustic (woods, lakes, the outdoors). Farmhouse styles from the turn of the century lean towards clean wood and glazed tile giving a look of straight-forward sensibility. Arts and Crafts or Bungalow fireplaces are known for their brick or stone faces and most popular of all, handmade ceramic tile. Finally, the style of your fireplace can also be a forum for expressing your own personality. Are there colors, shapes or patterns that you relate to? Is there a theme throughout your home that can be applied to your fireplace that makes a statement of things to come throughout the home?
To help you determine which direction you want to go with your fireplace design we recommend looking at books, magazines and websites. Clay Squared has a small library of historic and contemporary books to get ideas. Check out your local bookstore. We also recommend utilizing the Handmade Tile Association website (http://www.handmadetileassociation.org).
6. Time to Design
Now that you’ve determined your style, start playing with the tile. Listen to what the tiles have to say. Your intuition is an integral part of the design process. Come into the showroom and at no cost check out tile samples to help you determine color and size. If you are out of the area we can send you 5 samples for $12.75, includes shipping.
7. Placing your Order
If you can figure out how much tile you need, great. If you have a tile setter installing the tile, they can figure out the amounts and sizes for you. If you need help, we are happy to do it. We recommend you bring in a drawing with as many dimensions as possible and digital pictures, if there is an existing structure.