The green faux marble tile around our fireplace was in dire need of an update. We had put it off because we were not sure exactly what we wanted and the fireplace did not work.
On cold weekend last February we decided it was time to figure this out so we started demolition even though we had not fully decided what we wanted in its place. We knew wanted a different mantle so I was not careful in dismantling it. While things were torn apart I thought it was a good time to get the fireplace fixed. I contacted Zoom Fix and for less than $300 we got a thorough cleaned and working fireplace.
We went shopping for tile at a few local home improvement stores and found some we liked well enough, but none really stood out. Next we ventured to a flooring store which had many more options. We saw some 3″ hexagon Carrara marble that grabbed our attention as did the price. Either we needed to adjust our expectations or our budget. We headed home to think it over.
I assumed that buying tile online would be prohibitive due to the shipping costs. However, we were able to find the same tile (or close enough) for significantly less than at the flooring store. And more importantly within our budget. We ordered samples from two different companies and decided to go with these.
For the mantle we settled on a floating mantle shelf and ordered this one from Hayneedle. That seemed like a good idea until it arrived. Damaged.
It simply did not have enough protective packaging. We contacted their customer service and sent it back. A replacement arrived within about 10 days. Also damaged due to not enough protective packaging. I would expect a company sells and ships heavier items would have this perfected. Not Hayneedle. We sent it back again and this time requested a refund. It was time to build my own mantle.
I was able to find some furniture grade 1″ x 8″ x 8′ mahogany boards on sale. Along with other necessary supplies the total cost was about $80 (just over $100 less than the mantle from Hayneedle).
I used a table saw to set the edge for rabbet joint where the top and bottom meet the front and sides. I then removed the excess with a straight cut bit in my router. I cut the miter joint where the front meets the sides with my compound miter saw. I glued and clamped it all together using a few brad nails to hold things in place while the glue set up.
I ripped a 2″ x 6″ to the proper width to serve as a ledger board and mounted it to the wall with 4″ lag screws into the studs. The final step for the mantel was to secure it to the ledger board. I drilled three pilot holes for screws on the top and on the bottom to prevent splitting the mantle since these holes were relatively close to the edge. I used brass or gold colored screws to make them less noticeable. I was a little concerned with how solid this would be. Not to worry. It is sturdy!
Finally, we were ready for the tile. I had never installed tile before. And of course, we chose these complicated hexagon tiles.
We got busy with other projects and activities and kept putting off installing the tile. I finally got around to buying/borrowing the needed tools and supplies and we were ready. I found this really helpful blog post on HOW TO INSTALL A MARBLE HEXAGON TILE BACKSPLASH. However, as I thought through all the cuts I would need to make I began to have second thoughts about doing this myself. When my wife suggested we contact a tile contractor a friend had just used I immediately agreed.
I gave the recommended contractor a call on a Saturday. We traded a few texts and on Monday morning he called to say he had a cancellation and could come later that morning. We agreed on a price for the job on the phone. I talked to my boss about switching some time off I already had scheduled and headed home. Four hours later the tile was set.
About 10 days later the contractor came back to grout the tile which took less than an hour. While I had intended to do this project entirely on my own I am so glad we hired this done. There were numerous things he knew to do from experience such as laying the tiles on the floor first to get the proper spacing from the fireplace. Hiring a professional led to significantly less stress and marital tension. And an outstanding result!