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Unread 10-05-2006, 08:36 AM   #1
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Installing Slate surround around fireplace

Ok, so the wife went out and got a surround she liked for the Zero clearance gas Fireplace we put in.....random shaped slate pieces for the wall......and then she got some matching 12" sq pieces for the hearth...The pieces range in depth from 3/8 to 9/16. There was 5/8 in rock per code around the fireplace. I screwed on 1/4" Hardibacker on the wall to place the slate on.....do I need to know anythng before beginning the process.....Should I wash and seal these before placing them? Do they need to be sealed? What should I grout with? Is there a special technique I should follow when grouting these? And one last ?, the stuff she purchased for the wall (special order) did not have corner pieces available. Is there some tricks so I can go around the corner and not have edges of slate show and make it look like one piece? And I do not want to have a continuous grout corner......there has to be a trick you pro's know. Help? Wall or hearth first? and do I start at the ceiling or Hearth for the wall?
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Unread 10-05-2006, 11:47 AM   #2
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Hi and welcome. We're all rookies here, so give us a first name.

I do the wall first so that I don't have to work over the finished hearth. I don't think there are any special tricks with the slate. Make sure the backs are free of dust and figure out how to support the pieces while they set, maybe use small nails driven into the backer board.
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Unread 10-05-2006, 01:32 PM   #3
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Any tricks I can use for ouside corners? The slate design she purchased does not have special pieces for outsidecorners. Just trying to hide the grey edge of the slate piece.
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Unread 10-05-2006, 02:16 PM   #4
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i did the same thing with slate to a house i just sold. i didn't do anything special for the outside edges. it was just grouted nicely. i thought it looked great.
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Unread 10-05-2006, 02:50 PM   #5
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I didn't use slate, just regular porcelain tile, but I'll be building a mantle over and support columns beside the tile, which will hide the edges.

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Unread 10-05-2006, 04:13 PM   #6
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If you sand it, I think you'd end up with the same basic color as the top surface. Try it on an edge. Not sure how fine you'd need to go, depends somewhat on your preferences.
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Unread 10-05-2006, 08:07 PM   #7
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You can also partially back-miter the ends where they meet. This works for various angles and grout helps to "round" out the corner.
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Unread 10-05-2006, 09:27 PM   #8
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Do the hearth first and let set up for at least 24 hrs. You want the legs or pieces on side of opening to sit on top of the hearth. If you lay out your pieces from the top of opening down, cut first piece on hearth and install directly on top of hearth. This way you have the support of the hearth to build on and can space your pieces above with plastic wedges or spacers. Make sure to keep legs plumb and flush to eachother. When you get to top, use a 2x4 support with legs supported on hearth coverd by 1/2" plywood. To go around corner, instead of mitering pieces, since slate is such a rough material just box the joint (cover edge of one tile with the other as if it were a bullnose). YES, seal slate before grouting with whatever product you intend to use for the final sealing. This way the grout gets sealed along with it. Did stone and tile fireplaces like this for years.
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Unread 10-06-2006, 12:57 AM   #9
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Are you talking about the corners at the top left and right of the fireplace or are you talking about this field of tile returning into the wall? Can you put up a pic of this? What about a mantle? Is that a consideration?

Otherwise the crow is right on. Slate is supposed to be rough and uneven, IMO.

And I am curious as to what code requirement (unless you are in a multi-residence building) would neccesitate 5/8" rock. All fireplaces I have installed (over 100) have 1/2" space from the plane of the nailing flange to the face of the unit.
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