I've installed a Heatilator zero-clearance wood burning fireplace and now am
doing the finish work on the surrround. I'd like to place tile up to or almost
up to the firebox opening, and have seen plenty of manufacturer "gallery"
photos showing this being done. The problem (for me) is that the fireplace has
a 3 inch black painted sheet metal border on the sides, and a 6 inch border
above the top of the firebox. Somehow I need to attach tile over this surface.
A Google search doesn't yield any consensus-- one person says to place the tile
right on the metal with latex modified thinset, another says some sort of
epoxy, a third says attach 1/4" Hardibacker over the metal (but then you have
an edge or return to deal with). The manufacturer's rep (whom I don't really
trust) casually says that you can just place thinset on the metal and lay the
tile as usual.
Opinions? Advice? TIA.
Few people will know exactly what to do in this case because it's
non-standard, so send email to the factory. Statistically speaking, a second
factory rep saying the same thing as the first would change the
low-confidence answer into a very high confidence answer.
You want to tile over the sheet metal, right?
Why not just drill the sheet metal and use what ever sticky stuff you decide
to use. What ever it is it will need to be heat resistant. Big time. That is
what the sheet metal is for to keep the hot fire box away from the building
materials. I installed a zero clearance years a go. I just pulled the fire
box assembly out the thickness of my Z brick that I was using and finished
it off that way. I strongly doubt that the pictures you saw ever on an
operational fire place, Pretty is as pretty does.
If the metal gets hot when you operate the fireplace I'd worry about
expansion. Steel will expand much more than tile and even if thinset
would adhere to the smooth metal the sheer forces generated by the
expanding tile would likely cause a failure. I'd use an intermediate
layer of Hardiboard, or at least a compliant adhesive like silicone that
could take the heat.
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