Granite tiles are used frequently in all areas of the home, including on the fireplace surround. The smooth surface and wide variety of colours that granite offers can help ensure the fireplace blends into any home decor.
Fireplace tiling has its own concerns, however, which means that special adhesives must be used. From creating a smooth surface for the granite to using the right colour of adhesive for the right colour of granite, make informed choices each step of the way.
Preparing the Wall
Many fireplace surrounds are already covered in bricks, fieldstone or another rough material. Granite tiles require a smooth, firm surface with which to bond properly, and adding a substrate to the surround can often make it too thick.
To smooth out the surround and make it suitable for the installation of granite tiles, use thin set mortar that is modified with latex adhesive. Some thin sets come already modified, while others require the latex to be added separately. For this step, any thin set that has been modified with latex is suitable.
Adhering the Granite
Granite tiles are extremely heavy. If the tiles will be placed on the vertical sections of the surround as well as on the horizontal hearth, a high-strength latex modified, cement based thin set adhesive is needed. The latex will help grab and hold the tiles while the cement cures.
Dark coloured granites are less porous and less likely to grab the adhesive as light coloured granites. In the case of dark granites use the latex adhesive, but apply support in the form of wooden bracing to the tiles on the walls to prevent their moving while the thin set cures. Position 2x4 boards at an angle moving from the granite to the floor, bracing them at the bottom to hold the tiles in place.
Thin Set Colors
Natural stone is porous to at least some degree, and light coloured granites are significantly more porous than dark coloured stones. To prevent the thin set mortar from staining light coloured granite tiles as they absorbs the thin set and bond, use a light coloured thin set.
Most thin sets are offered in a choice of white or grey. Always use white coloured thin set when working with a light toned or light coloured granite. Granites that are beige, yellow, gold, grey, white and blue all fall into this category. All other colours of granite can be installed with grey thin set.
Thin Set Color for Green Granite
Many granites that contain the colour green also contain the mineral serpentine. Serpentine gets its name in part from the scaly nature of the mineral. Granites that have extremely high quantities of serpentine may spall, or become flaky in a scaly pattern upon absorption of water.
Thin set mortars are mixed with water, which the tiles then absorb. To prevent any spalling, scaling or warping of the green granite tiles, use an epoxy based thin set mortar instead. The brighter the green granite, the more likely it is to spall; this precaution does not need to be taken with granites that contain a small amount of green.
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