Do I need to grout antique subway fireplace tiles?
I am redoing my fireplaces in my 1935 Bungalow. I found a bunch of mismatched antique fireplace tile and came up with two layouts for the two fireplaces:
Oops..this forum won't let me post links, so I can't send pictures here. Ah well.
I have a guy who is installing the tile for me, and he's suggesting that I not use any grout at all. He's worried about what grout color to choose because of my mixture of dark and light tiles. He says he thinks that putting in any grout will spoil the effect of the antique tiles. He says he wants to just butt the tiles up against each other and not grout.
Certainly in fireplaces I've looked at from that era the grout lines are very small, and I like that look. But are they really ever laid without any grout at all? I'm also worried that he suggested this after laying the first hearth. I'm worried that the spacing of the tiles in that hearth allowed for some grout (very thin lines, though), and that I won't be happy if I don't put any grout at all in there. My gut tells me that not grouting is a shortcut rather than a design decision, but I'm a novice so I'm not sure.
To me, it all pivots on what's behind that tile. If it's the same brick that the fireplace is made of, then I don't see a problem leaving small gaps between the tiles.
Also, to my way of thinking, for that fireplace to remain functional, you're going to have to set the tiles with a thin set that's meant for the high temperatures you'd see in a fireplace.
I think your best bet is to bring this question to the Tile Contractor's Association of America:
Tile Contractors' Association of America
I'd contact them directly or any of their members who manufacture thin sets to see if you need a special thin set for tiling a fireplace.
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