How to finish a fireplace hearth

Written by kelly nuttall
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During the winter months, the fireplace hearth may be one of the dirtiest areas of the entire home. Finishing the fireplace hearth will provide at least three benefits: it will be easier to clean the stone or tile, the stone or tile will not become discoloured by soot and ash, and the fireplace hearth will look more attractive after a few coats of finish have been applied. It is very important to work with a very clean surface. Stone finishes will lock in any dirt and ash left on the hearth's surface.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Vacuum
  • Sponge
  • Water
  • Penetrating grout, tile, and stone sealer
  • Glossy or matt grout, tile and stone sealer
  • Small kitchen sponge

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  1. 1

    Vacuum the surface of the hearth with either a Shop-Vac or a household vacuum. The surface of the hearth needs to be clean and free of dust, dirt, ash, soot and any other contaminants that will adversely affect the finish layer.

  2. 2

    Wipe off the surface of the hearth with a damp sponge to remove any residual contaminants that the vacuum did not pick up. If the surface of the hearth is rough or uneven, do what you can with a damp sponge. Allow the surface to dry thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Apply a penetrating grout, tile, and stone sealer to the surface of the hearth. If glazed tile was used to construct the hearth, only the grout lines need to be sealed. If the hearth was constructed using quarried stone tiles, the grout and the tile surface must be treated with sealer. If thick stone pavers such as flagstone or similar materials were used, the whole stone surface must also be sealed. Sealer should be applied with a small kitchen sponge if the surface is uneven. Use a brush bottle to apply the sealer to the grout lines. Allow the penetrating sealer to dry for three to four hours.

  4. 4

    Apply clear glossy or matt tile or masonry sealer to the hearth after the penetrating sealer is dry. Glossy and matt finishes are thicker and seal the surface of the hearth in much the same way that polyurethane works to seal wood. The active finish layer sits on the surface of the hearth creating a strong, heavy finish layer that will make vacuuming and clean-up easier. When the hearth finish layer is clean and dry, the finish will either be glossy or matt, depending on the product used.

Tips and warnings

  • Only matt and glossy finishes are available for purchase. Combining glossy and matt finishes will allow you to create satin and semigloss finishes for your hearth.

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