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Unread 04-19-2019, 03:58 PM   #1
justkaren
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Tiling around crooked fireplace insert

We tore out our asymmetrical fireplace surround and drywall mantel a while back. Since then we've hung Durock around the wood-burning fireplace, drywall beyond 12" or so, and ordered tile. I have not tiled before but my in-laws have many times, so they were going to walk us through it.

I bought 12x24 porcelain tile and a Schluter edge to go on the inside closest to the insert as well as the outside. Our intent was to go out about 12" to either side of the insert (so one vertical tile width). I was holding up the tile today and realized the insert is not perfectly level. If it starts lined up with the black edge of the fireplace, by the time it reaches the top it is close to an inch away from the edge. So, if we continue according to plan, we will have some funky gaps to figure out. Obviously if I had consulted an expert first they would have told me not to go with large format tile if you're trying to disguise something like this...

In the photo where the tile is being held against the fireplace the level isn't shown but the tile is level there. I also checked the top of the fireplace insert and it is not level. Really wishing I had checked this early on.

Any ideas on solutions? So far I've come up with:
1. Cut the tile into smaller pieces so it's less noticeable
2. Scrap this tile altogether and get something on mesh
3. ....

We are handy and not averse to challenge but I also take pride in what we do and I would prefer not to tile way out of level. I'm also not averse to calling a pro to do this but I'm not sure what they would do differently to solve this.

ETA: We haven't done the mesh tape on the seams yet, that's coming up this weekend.
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Unread 04-19-2019, 07:48 PM   #2
bellabella
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Is the one side not plumb, both sides not plumb or is the whole thing not level?
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Unread 04-19-2019, 07:54 PM   #3
justkaren
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Jim, the whole thing is not level. We checked the level against both sides and the top.
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Unread 04-20-2019, 07:05 AM   #4
Davy
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There's no disguising that. If leveling the box is not an option, you'll likely have to run the tiles with the box. That's probably the way the old tiles were installed and you may not have ever noticed.
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Unread 04-20-2019, 08:03 AM   #5
rmckee84
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Remove CBU and level the insert...
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Unread 04-20-2019, 08:50 AM   #6
bellabella
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If you look closely at the original install it appears the tile runs with the floor and was cut to fit the box. I agree the fireplace should be leveled to look right.
Is there glass in the fireplace?
One idea is to create a shadowbox trim around the firebox to obscure the edge of the box and make it appear square. You still would still have the base off level.
Hope this all helps.
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Last edited by bellabella; 04-20-2019 at 09:52 AM.
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Unread 04-20-2019, 11:40 AM   #7
justkaren
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Thanks for your input! We are going to first see if it can be shimmed, at least a bit, although we think it’s nailed into framing studs. There is glass in the doors. If we can’t shim we will just try to balance the gap I suppose... or cut them to roughly 12x12s as that seemed to work with the previous tile enough so that it wasn’t extremely noticeable.
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