The fireplace is often the aesthetic centerpiece of a room. Aside from providing heat and a welcoming glow to the room, it can command attention for its design. One way to make a fireplace attractive is to tile the wall above it. An arched design is often suitable as it offers a softer appearance than straight edges. Having prepped the fireplace with backing and tile mortar, it takes just a few steps to tile an arched design over the top.
Marking out the Arch
1. Make the outline for the arch using a starting midpoint and two endpoints that indicate where the curve of the arch will finish. This enables you to custom-fit the arch to the size and profile of your facade. Mark the midpoint of the arch above the center of the fireplace's opening with the pencil. You can choose how high you want the apex of the arch, depending on the proportions of your fireplace and its surrounding decoration. Come down on the edges of the fireplace's facade to a point approximately 8 to 12 inches lower than the level of the midpoint mark, and use the pencil to mark the endpoints. The endpoint of the curve is where the curve ends and from there a vertical line continues downward to the base of the fireplace. Precisely where you have your endpoints in relation to the midpoint will depend upon how steep you wish your arch to be.
2. Draw the outline of the arch from the midpoint to one of the endpoints with the pencil.
3. Lay a large sheet of transfer paper over this half of the arch, and trace the outline of the arch onto the paper.
4. Use the scissors to cut out the arch shape from the midpoint to the endpoint.
5. Flip the transfer paper over, and align the midpoint of the paper to the midpoint of the arch, but with the curve of the arch on the other side. Trace the outline of the arch on the other side of the fireplace. This ensures that each side of the arch is symmetrical with its opposite side.
Adding the Tiles
6. Select 5-inch or smaller tiles to work with. The colors and pattern of the tile are a personal choice, but take into account the decor of the room.
7. Begin at the midpoint above the fireplace. Orient the first tile so that, head-on, it looks like a diamond, with its corners pointed north, south, east and west. Use the mortar to affix this tile in place.
8. Install the next tiles, one on each side of the middle tile, just below the east and west corners of the first tile, using mortar.
9. Install the rest of the tiles following the arched outline around the fireplace, on both sides, using the same tessellation approach, placing the tiles so that the long edges are flush with each other but do not overlap, creating a symmetrical pattern. Use the tile cutters to cut tiles to fit along the outside edge of the arch shape. Install the last tiles vertically downward until they reach the base of the fireplace. If necessary, use the tile cutters to shape the last pieces so they fit snugly above the base.
10. Allow the mortar to dry, then finish the tile design with grout. If you want the pattern of the tile you've chosen to be emphasized, then use a darker grout. If you want the tile emphasized, use a lighter color. Apply the grout with the putty knife or rubber grout float. Once the grout has started to set but is still not solid - about five minutes - use a damp sponge to wipe away any grout that has gotten onto the tiles. You may also wish to add a wall-textured finish, like stucco, to your tiles.