A 1990s Fireplace Before and After
This is a story about a quick and easy makeover of our 1990s fireplace. We also made over another 1990s fireplace by removing the tiles and applying antique brick. The story is here.
The other night, I was cleaning the house, finishing up a few projects, full of energy – and suddenly I decided to do what I’d been wanting to do for the longest time. Something that probably was a bad idea, but it had bothered me for a very long time. Everyone had long gone to bed, so it was too late to stop me!
Now most people would think I must be planning something sinister, but no, not me. I just was tired of looking at my green slate fireplace.
How to Make Over Green Slate Tiles on Fireplace
Now I like green slate – I really wanted to put some down in a previous house. It just didn’t suit our old house. The green slate tiles with the extra-wide grey grout looked like something I had done myself. In our small formal living room, the fireplace loomed menacingly with a 6 foot high cedar mantle and an awkward, extra large wood-burning insert – installed and tiled over in 1995. It didn’t look like 1898, and it didn’t look like 2021 either.
An extra large fireplace surround had been built around an extra large wood-burning fireplace insert and covered over in large green slate ceramic tiles.
Coincidentally, that green tile was the same tile installed in a Best Western hotel bathroom floor in Brandon Manitoba. I’m pretty sure the same tile was in the lobby of the Sandman Hotel in Calgary Alberta. The tiles look fine there, just not on my fireplace.
The Robert Bateman painting above didn’t seem to help the fireplace along either – but we needed a large painting there – and a mirror wouldn’t do because it would be so high up.
Can Green Slate Fireplace Tiles be Painted?
I had toyed with the idea of painting the slate, but I wanted the tile’s texture to show through – so I had tested my idea out with various colours of paint on some extra tile. I decided to mix some stone sealer, with various shades of grey mixed with blue and then pink to cancel out the green tones of the tile. I was not inspired.
Thinned Black Paint with Stone Sealer on Slate Tiles
Then I decided to just go for some black paint – again mixed with stone sealer to thin the paint down. I painted the first tile and thought – “good”. I happily painted the rest of the tiles, one at a time – a few tiles through, I noticed that the some of the tiles looked purple. It was too late to go back though.
It was just an illusion likely caused by painting after midnight (DIY delirium!). I finished up the tiles, and dry-brushed a little of the paint mixture over the grout.
I left the mantel as is – but hung an antique print with a rosewood frame above. The rosewood frame makes the cedar toned mantel blend in a little bit.
I am really happy with the quick makeover, and I wish that I had done it sooner. I would rather have a different style of fireplace – but this was a quick and inexpensive (i.e. free!!) project working with what we had on hand. Thinning the paint with stone sealer made the paint less thick and obvious – and allows the texture to still show through – without the green tint.
Can I paint 1990s Green Slate Fireplace Tiles?
People sometimes stop in to EverydayLillie to ask (on Google) can I paint green slate fireplace tiles?
The answer is yes! I used a black acrylic paint thinned with a stone sealer. The paint was opaque enough that it covered the colour, but thin enough that the texture of the tile showed through. I brushed it lightly over the grout. It looks just a little bit different, but awesome.
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