Fireplace Planning

How to plan for tile for your fireplace

1. The Presence of the Fireplace
Besides being the heart of the home, the fireplace is considered one of a home’s major interior architectural features and can set both the mood and the style of the room. With that in mind, there are many things to consider when selecting handmade tile for your fireplace. Whether starting from scratch or modifying an existing fireplace, taking the time to learn about fireplaces, both past and present, will give you the guidance to determine what style will best fit your home and you.

2. Fireplace Codes
Fireplaces have codes that determine what materials can be applied to the both front face and the hearth. Handmade ceramic tile is a non-combustible material and therefore can be used on both the hearth and fireplace face, right up to the opening. If you are planning to use other materials along with handmade tiles in these locations, please be sure to check the current International Residential Codes (IRC) or your city hall to make sure your project is up to code.

3. Fire Resistant Qualities of Ceramic Tile
Handmade ceramic tiles are one of the best products to use for your
fireplace surround or hearth. These two surfaces contain areas that must be non-combustible. Ceramic tile is completely fireproof at any temperature. It will not burn or feed a fire. It does not give off toxic gases, smoke or fumes during a fire. Ceramic handmade tile even provides protection for structural surfaces during fires 

4. Do I Need a Designer or Architect to Design my Fireplace?
Designers and architects are people who understand space, design and color. They typically cost 15% of a project but, when you have large projects, their insights and knowledge can save you more than their fees. If you don’t have a designer and feel you need some help, Clay Squared can help you find your vision and pull it all together. Artist/owner Josh Blanc has been working with tile since 1995 and is the designer and maker of the handmade tiles at Clay Squared to Infinity.

5. Determining your Fireplace Style
Given the architectural importance of the fireplace, there are 3 distinct styles that you can follow: historic, regional or your personal expression of creativity.

6. Time to Design
In the historic category you would be looking at the style of the home. Some styles to consider are: Victorian, Tudor,Colonial, Arts & Crafts, Cape Cod,
Mid-Century, Modern or Contemporary. As for regional, here in the Midwest we are known for rustic styles (woods, lakes and the outdoors). Farmhouses from the turn of the century lean towards clean, unpainted wood and glazed tile, giving a look of straight-forward sensibility. Arts & Crafts and Bungalow fireplaces are known for their brick or stone faces and, most popular of all, handmade ceramic tile. Finally, the style of your
fireplace can also be a forum for expressing your own personality. Ask yourself if there are colors, shapes or patterns that you relate to? Is there a theme throughout your home that can be applied to your fireplace to reinforce that personal statement?

To help you determine which direction you want to go with your fireplace design, we recommend looking at books, magazines and websites. Check out your local bookstore. Clay Squared has a small library of historic and contemporary books to get more ideas. We also recommend utilizing the Handmade Tile Association website (

Our tile showroom has been voted “Best Of” by many magazines and online sites! We offer tiles made on-site, tiles by local makers as well as historic reproductions. Now that you’ve determined your style, start playing with the tile. Listen to what they have to say. Your intuition is an integral part of the design process. Come into the showroom and, at no cost, check out tile samples to help you determine color and size. If you are out of the area you can order one of our sample packs on our website or call us 612-781-6409

7. Placing your Order
If you can figure out how much tile you need, great. If you have a tile setter installing the tile, they can determine the amounts and sizes for you. If you need, we are happy to help. We recommend you bring in a drawing with as many dimensions and details as possible. Digital pictures, if there is an existing structure, are also helpful.