How to install stacked stone tile around fireplace

November 16, 2016

Hey all! I've been working my butt off (I wish literally) on this fireplace tile project in the basement! If you remember I last left you with the new mantel and hearth
DIY electric fireplace wall

Those tiles were just leaned up against there so I started with that bottom part -- because it was the easiest. :) 

I've been working on it on and off on this for the past couple of weeks and finally hit it hard again yesterday. I was so hoping to get it done but I ran out of steam. Today is the day! I'm determined! 

This is the stone we're using, from Lowe's: 
desert quartz ledgestone Lowe's

I've had to visit three different locations to find enough to use because some batches are more pinky toned than others. I prefer the more natural tones so I've had to mix and match boxes. The great thing about this stone is it looks fantastic no matter what! 

This is the adhesive I used, from Home Depot: 
easy to use adhesive for tiling

This stuff is awesome and SO much easier than mixing thinset. You pay a little more but save in time and mess. It's nice that this is ready to go and you don't have to worry about getting the mixture just right. 

You'll need a trowel -- but make sure you get one with "teeth" that are the right size for your tile. Mine was the 1/4 by 1/4 size and the adhesive container tells you which one to use: 
the right trowel for your tiling job

After installing a few tiles and realizing not all of them are shaped exactly the same (most are), I started laying them out on the floor to make sure they all fit together OK:
how to install stacked stone

Some tiles are shorter on one end and won't work, and I had to take a couple tiles down because of that, so this part is important. 

Tiling itself is actually quite an easy process, especially with this tile. It just takes TIME. You start by spreading your adhesive on the wall: 
using a trowel to tile

Fill in the general size of the tile on the wall -- I've learned over the years that it doesn't have to be caked on. You're wasting the adhesive if you go crazy with it: 
how to tile a wall

The reason for this is, you'll add more to the back of the tile. I have found that I waste less if I spread it on with the straight side of the trowel first: 
spreading adhesive on tile

Like frosting! ;) This stuff is so easy to work with. 

And then I'll use my towel and put the notches into it: 
how to add adhesive to tile

The design of the trowel gives some more grip to the adhesive. 

And then you just put it on the wall: 
stacked stone from Lowe's

I wiggle it around a little and then leave it. You'll have a few minutes to easily work with it but it grips right away -- no worries about them falling off. I've tiled many times onto drywall and it holds up great -- you do not need special drywall or backing unless you're doing a wet location. 

As far as the install goes, straight lines go fast and easy with this tile. They fit together fairly well so you can go pretty quick. Areas like the sides of the fireplace took more time and work because I had to do a lot more cutting. You can see that sometimes I started on the left side, sometimes on the right, so the seams don't always match up: 
how to install stacked stone

The beauty of this tile is it does not have to be perfect! It is very forgiving because the design is so irregular and natural. 

To fill in spots I would measure the width I needed and then mark my cut line with a pen or pencil: 
cutting stacked stone

I borrowed a tile saw for this project -- I find this tool to be one of the easiest to use. You check your line with the saw while it's off, then turn it on (make sure water is running) and then run it through slowly: 
how to use a tile saw

Things to consider: 
1. Think about where you want to start. I started in the middle for my long runs but this tile is so forgiving it's not necessarily needed. 
2. Always wear eye protection when using the tile saw!
3. I didn't have many problems cutting this tile but you do have to watch where your cut will be -- if it's going to leave a little sliver of a piece it will most likely get torn up by the saw. Tiny cuts are very hard to do with a saw like this so make your measurements accordingly. 
4. Keep all of your scrap tile till you are done -- you never know where you can use a small piece that may be too hard to cut. 
5. You do not need to grout with this tile, which saves a ton of time! There are a few spots where you can see the wall between the pieces (if you look really hard), so I may fill in a few spots with some tile caulk. 

You will have smaller sections to fill in and I've saved most of these for last, since I know I'll have scrap I can use:
stacked ledgestone from Lowe's

Also, I originally planned to cut the tiles at the ends at an angle so they would fit against the wall. It was going to take SO MUCH longer to do that though, so I went with a straight edge and I'm so thankful I did. It would be so difficult to get mitered edges to match up perfectly. 

I will share the full reveal when I finish the tile, do the final coats of poly on the wood and after I decorate it! I can't wait! But here's an idea of how this looks installed: 
desert quartz ledgestone

It has such a warm, cozy feel and we're so excited about this area! Can't wait to see it decorated for Christmas!: 
stacked stone around fireplace

Have you used this tile in your home? Many of you shared photos of your projects on my Facebook page and I love it every time I see it used! 

Here's an image to pin if you are interested in tiling sometime in the future:
how to tile tutorial

And you can see how I tiled a smaller area with marble tile in our family room here: 
gray fireplace with marble surround

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  1. Looking good! I know it will be amazing when you do the big reveal. Can hardly wait! :)

  2. It is going to look amazing Sarah! We used this same stone on our fireplace and hearth makeover! I love it so much. Can't wait to see your reveal, you always do amazing work. ~Sonya

  3. Funny story...last night my husband and I were browsing the internet, trying to decide what to do with our fireplace this weekend. I had been pouring over Google images and Pinterest forever and finally thought, "I should just search on Sarah's page and see what her fireplace looks like. I always love her house." Popped over, and this was your most recent post! Ha! I hope Lowes is a sponsor because we're heading there today to buy this tile, so I can be a copycat. ;)



  4. You make it so easy to follow! Love it!


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