Fireplace Tile vs. Other Materials: Pros and Cons You Should Know

Fireplace Tile vs. Other Materials: Pros and Cons You Should Know

Tile can be a wonderful way to add unique design details to your fireplace surround and hearth. Many patterns look great in this space, from a straight lay to herringbone.

When choosing tile for your fireplace, consider its durability and heat resistance. A wide range of material options is available for this space, including ceramic, natural stone and porcelain tiles.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is a versatile and affordable option at showrooms like Artistic Tile. It’s available in various colors and styles and can be glazed to resist water and staining. This makes it a smart choice for areas of the home that may experience occasional moisture, like bathrooms and basements.

Ceramic tiles are a type of clay tile kiln-fired at lower temperatures than porcelain tile, making it less dense and porous. This can make it susceptible to stains, though it does offer superior heat resistance and an impressive rating on the Mohs scale for scratch hardness.

Ceramic tile is typically glazed and offers a range of finishes, from matte to glossy. This versatility means it’s suitable for various applications, including walls, floors and countertops. Unglazed tile has a more natural look and is also durable and economical. The downside is that it’s not as water-resistant as glazed tile and can be susceptible to chipping. It requires professional installation to ensure a high-quality finish.


Travertine is a versatile natural stone in a wide range of earth tones and finishes. This mountain-born limestone is ideal for creating classic and rustic looks.

Choose a tumbled tan or beige travertine for Old World-style spaces to inspire a sense of timeworn grandeur. A heavily textured surface offers excellent grip for outdoor flooring and works well in bathrooms, showers, and as fireplace tile.

You can also choose a brushed or honed finish for a smoother, contemporary look. Polished travertine requires regular maintenance to keep its glossy sheen and stain-resistant qualities since it’s more vulnerable to scratches and spills than other finishes.

drawback of travertine is that, due to its honeycomb structure, it has microscopic pores that can allow liquids to penetrate and stain the stone. This means you must apply a penetrating sealer during installation and then reapply it regularly. This extra work can be frustrating for some homeowners. Like any natural stone, travertine can also have color variations from one batch to the next.


Slate has a timeless appeal and works well in rustic and classic homes. It’s popular for roofing and flooring but also lends an eye-catching design to fireplace walls. It comes in various colors and textures; grout hues can match or contrast. Slate isn’t the cheapest tile choice, but it’s a durable material that can withstand high heat levels.

Consider a rich color to make a statement with your fireplace tiles. The blue of this firebox tile pops against the black mantel and reclaimed wood accents.

Brick may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a traditional fireplace, but today designers have far more options than standard red brick. One option is glazed thin brick, which mimics the appearance of real brick but is thinner and glazed with grout colors. This style of tile is easy to clean, and the sheen it reflects brightens up the hearth area. It’s also compatible with radiant below-the-surface heating systems. This type of tile requires a penetrating sealer to close tiny pores and a barrier sealer to protect the surface.

Porcelain Tile

When you need a durable, stylish option that stands up to moisture and water, porcelain is the tile of choice. Its density makes it less prone to damage and holds up well in wet areas like shower floors, kitchens, and bathrooms.

It’s also great for high-traffic areas because it can withstand heavy furniture without breaking or chipping. It has better durability than ceramic and is a smarter investment for the long haul.

MSI porcelain tiles are rectified, meaning they’re fired to ensure straight edges and uniform sizing (as opposed to ceramic with a higher variance level). This is important because it means you won’t have to deal with any chips, cracks or loose edges.

Porcelain can be pricier than other types of tile but is more affordable than natural stone. However, its dense composition means it can be difficult to work with. This is why it’s recommended that you have a professional install it rather than trying it as a DIY project. It also requires a special setting material typically unavailable to do-it-yourselfers.


While we usually think of tile as a utilitarian design element in wet areas, it can also be a gorgeous addition to the fireplace surround and hearth. With the right color and finish, tiles can add a touch of elegance to an otherwise ordinary fireplace.

Using a variety of tile designs can add even more style to your fireplace. While some designers may choose to cover the entire fireplace with a specific patterned or colored tile, others can get creative and use it on just certain elements. For example, this patterned tile on the step-up of this fireplace ties in shades of blue and white perfectly without overwhelming the rest of the living room decor.

Ceramic tile is a true chameleon, capable of taking on any look. Here, glossy tiles bring out the natural beauty of this fireplace with a sheen we aren’t used to seeing in other materials like wood or brick. For an added touch of luxury, opt for a tile with a high variation glaze, showcasing multiple colors throughout the surface.

Emma Chris

Emma Chris is the founder of Forbes Era. Emma helps businesses to make their online presence by helping them to connect with their potential customers.

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