Favorite Fireplace Tile Ideas

Posted by William Buyok on

Who doesn't like to snuggle up to a warm fire? Few things are more comforting than a cozy fireplace with hand-crafted tiles. With cold days and long nights, the hearth becomes the center of the home for family and friends. Make your fireplace the focal point of the room with hand-painted ceramic or cement tiles. Here are our favorite fireplace tile ideas.


Our list of favorite fireplace tile ideas includes both cement tile and ceramic tile. Additionally, we'll highlight a few tips that will help you achieve the best design for your fireplace using tiles you love. One thing to remember is that tile will not only dramatically alter the look of a fireplace; but, they will improve a room's look and character at a modest cost. Most fireplaces need just a few tiles, so its one place you can splurge. Go ahead get something you really love, and rest-assured you won't break the bank.






A fireplace using hand painted Spanish Tile
A fireplace using hand-painted Spanish Tile

With so many different types of tile out there, it's always best to start by understanding what you like and what style would work for your home. Define your style and your home's style before deciding what tile to use. Just because you love a tile doesn't mean it will work with the design and flow of your home.

Design Tip: Define Your Style

Do you like plain, solid-color tiles or patterned tiles? Are you working with a rustic or contemporary design? Answer these questions, and you're off to a great start. You can add decorative tile as accents or create a pattern with plain tile using two or three different colors. Decide what style suits your tastes and the style of your house.

Hand Painted Spanish Tile Accents used for Fireplace
Detail of hand-painted Spanish tile accents used for this fireplace

Choose patterns consistent with your home's architectural details and consider size, color and texture. You want tiles that enhance, embrace or complement the design theme. The rough, uneven surface of our handmade Rustic Pavers and Arabesque tiles, for example, impart a provincial feel that works great for houses with a Spanish, Southwest or Spanish Colonial design. 

Hand painted Spanish tiles create a rustic look
Hand-painted tiles, with their variation in color, create a rustic look that pairs well with the textured fireplace

However, they wouldn't look as nice with the clean lines of a mid-century modern. For a more contemporary look, consider a bold color on square-edged tiles without any pattern like our Malibu Field and Rustic Terracotta. Muted border patterns in neutral colors and clean lines also work well for more contemporary homes. Our hand-painted Yucatan field tile will evoke an Arts & Crafts feel when the right glaze color is used. For a more formal effect, look for tiles with a smooth surface and precise, square edges and flat surfaces. Use lighter glazed tiles to brighten the area. Relief tiles are a great way to add texture.

A cement tile border pattern with muted, neutral colors work well with this contemporary home.
A cement tile border pattern with muted, neutral colors work well with this contemporary home


Next, decide on a color scheme, or more precisely, work with the room's existing color scheme, provided you are happy with it. Then start looking for tiles! Make sure to give the design aspects of the project proper attention. Take into account the scale, pattern, and texture of the tile.

This handmade Yuna cement tile border frames the firebox


Yuna Cement Tile Fireplace
Detail of Cement Tile Border Pattern Framing Fireplace

It may sound obvious, but make sure your fireplace tile design works by framing the fire box. The pattern or colors should help provide interest and draw attention to a space that will be warm and comfortable - a place that makes you happy and want to share with friends and family.

Design Tip: Frame the Firebox with Tiles

You can frame the fire box with a decorative border tile, patterned cement tiles or liner tiles. For plain tile installations, use molding, different color tile, or a different format. For instance, if you are tiling the fireplace in 6"x6" tiles, try using a 3"x3" tiles around the box. 

Take a look at the designs below. Notice each one of them frames the firebox even if other design elements like a tiled mural or panel are used. Some designs use a cement tile border pattern for the frame. Others use a decorative liner or listello tile. Sometimes only a few decorative tile are used used; but, plain tiles provide the detail and outline the firebox.

Fireplace with Spanish Andalucia
Andalucia 6x6 and 3x6 tiles frame the firebox of this colorful design


Spanish Tile Fireplace
Large Spanish Tile Fireplace is framed with decorative hand-painted tile.


Scale your tiles to the size of the room and fireplace for balance. Tile size and pattern will drastically alter the fireplaces appearance. The tiles size needs to be in scale with the size of the firebox, mantle, hearth and the room. The pattern on the tile, the tile layout (or how it is set), color and texture will create an atmosphere - make sure it fits! Large quarter design patterns common in cement tiles are often not a good choice for existing designs because not enough of the pattern can be seen. Quite simply, the pattern doesn't fit.

Design Tip: Consider Scale. Sometimes patterns just don't fit on a fireplace.

Frequently, folks love a certain tile pattern and want to use it for their fireplace. After ordering samples, they will give me a call and say it just didn't work. I'll ask, "Did you try it in a smaller format?" In general, fireplaces aren't very big and can't accommodate large patterns. Sure enough, the design works when the tile is the right scale for the fireplace. When working with patterned or decorative tile, it's a good idea to look at patterns that are available in different formats, like our Malibu, Barcelona, Spanish and Portuguese ceramic tile lines.

Delft Blue Tiled Fireplace
A large fireplace is required to accommodate patterned tile

Don't despair if patterns don't work, even after using smaller, scaled versions of the tile. You can always add interest by placing a favorite tile on either side of the mantle or create a medallion using four tiles.


Day 31: Logs on the fire
Two dragonfly tiles on each side of the firebox are made more impressive by plain tiles outlining the firebox


A medallion using Celtic tiles provides subtle interest.
A medallion using Celtic ceramic tiles provides subtle interest and the look weathered, carved stone

If you want to tile your fireplace, keep these three tips in mind and you should be on your way to creating a design that you will love!

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