7 Steps to Planning a Tile Fireplace Surround

If you’re burning with inspiration to get started on your tiled fireplace surround and hearth but don’t know where to start, these 7 simple steps will set you in the right direction. Clay Squared handmade tiles naturally adorn Arts & Crafts era homes, Craftsman bungalows, and Mid Century fireplaces.
Stoves$500 - 4,000
Gas Logs$300 - 700
Stone Mantels$700 - 3,000
Wood Mantels$500 - 2,500
Installation$1,000 - 5,000
Handmade Tiles$300 - 2,500


1. Fireplace Codes

2. Fire Resistance

3. Architectural Presence

4. DIY or Pro

5. Design Style

6. Allow Time

7. Place Order

The Hawthorn fireplace in Jade Moss

The Hawthorn fireplace in Jade Moss

1. Understand Fireplace Codes

Fireplaces have codes that determine what materials can be applied to both the 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.

2. Fire Resistant Qualities of Ceramic Tile

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. It even provides protection for structural surfaces during fires.

3. Consider the Presence of a Fireplace in Your Home

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. 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.

The Hawthorn fireplace in Pesto

The Hawthorn fireplace in Pesto

4. DIY vs. Architect or Designer

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 the budget for a designer and feel you need some help, Clay Squared will 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.

The Davenport fireplace with bordered hearth

The Davenport fireplace with bordered hearth

5. Determine 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. 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 straight-forward look. 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 recommend utilizing Clay Squared, Pinterest, and Houzz websites. When you’re ready, bring in clippings or digital ideas and color schemes you like.

6. Allow Time to Design

Now that your have addressed concerns that might restrict your tile design, you can start playing with the tile! Your intuition can be an integral part of the design process. Contemplate colors and try new combinations; let the mood and personality of your home guide your choices. Come to 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.

Prairie Arts & Crafts fireplace

Prairie Arts & Crafts fireplace

7. Place 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 assistance, we are happy to help.

VISIT or call 612-781-6409 our studio/showroom in NE Minneapolis. We recommend bringing in a drawing with as many dimensions and details as possible. Digital pictures of the room or area are also helpful.

Or, ORDER ONLINE without leaving the comfort of your home.


How to Calculate Square Footage

See Measuring Animation


  1. Create a thumbnail drawing (or if you have an architectural rendering, that will also work). Grid paper can be helpful, but not necessary.
  2. Measure the length and width of each area in inches.
  3. Multiply length x width to determine the total area.
  4. Divide total area by 144 (the total number of inches per square foot) to derive how many square feet you need for each section.
  5. Add 10-15% additional tile to your batch for replacements, cuts, and installation errors.
  6. Determine how many tile are in a square foot:


How Many Tile are in one Square Foot?

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