Fireplaces are the central feature of many living rooms.
Whether the fireplace is in use or kept for decorative purposes, it can be decorated in a number of ways to add style to the room. Brick slips are a great option as it adds an on trend rustic and warm feel to a home.
What are brick slips?
Brick Slips is the brick industry name for tiles that are either cut from full bricks, or made to replicate cut full bricks.
The authentic version is made from clay fired bricks, which are then cut down to around 22mm thick, just thick enough to minimise breakages in cutting, transport and installation. This means you get everything that people love about brickwork- the natural variations, texture and colour with no compromise.
There are other versions that can imitate this-
Pre-moulded brick slips are made from the same material in the same way, but just often lack the same character and texture that a moulded full brick can achieve- these tend to be thinner as the cutting wastage isn’t an issue
Concrete brick slips are also available as imitations, the material means it is usually cheaper, but it also makes it heavier and the dye required fades in sunlight over time. They also have the issue of replicating the texture that natural clay creates in any mould, not just a full brick.
There are also then ceramic tile, polystyrene, foam and wallpaper replica products to try and mimic the look on a low budget.
Are they suitable for a fireplace?
Yes, clay brick is a very heat resistant material, having been fired at over 1000 degrees Celsius.
If you have a log burner, gas or electric stove then there is no problem, you need to make sure however that you’re using an appropriate adhesive for the temperature, and a cement based mortar, rather than a lime based one.
The only situation where brick slips aren’t recommended is with an open fire, this is mainly because they will gather soot and retain it as time goes on.
Brick is a classic fireplace look as many chimney breasts were left with the original brickwork either as the whole chimney breast, or simply the internal fire chamber, and that has lasted into modern interiors.
Different design options
Internal Chamber Only
This is the simplest of all the options to add brick slips to your fireplace, simply tile the internal 3 sides of your chimney breast.
It’s advised to do this before a log burner is in place so installation isn’t awkward. The only real consideration other than the look of the brick and the mortar, is how to finish at the front. You don’t want to expose the edges of the brick slips, as it will lessen the brick look.
Therefore you can create a lip with plasterboard to make sure the brick looks recessed in, or alternatively cover the edges with timber or another material that will make it look natural.
Internal Chamber and Replica Pillars
This option works best where a beam or mantel is going in, or already in place, the pillars either side will then appear to be supporting it.
In order to achieve this look, you will need to use corner tiles to keep the genuine brick look going around from the chamber, and then the side of the chimney breast. These are simply the face and edge of the brick, an L shape cut out meaning once installed no-one will be able to tell that it isn’t a full brick.
Full Chimney Breast
The final option is to simply tile the full chimney breast- this means using corner tiles to come around from the chamber, and around the corners of the chimney breast. The main consideration here is how you negotiate the width, as it may not add up perfectly to full brick size, meaning you may have to cut some bricks down.
The best thing to do is calculate beforehand to make your decision, increasing or decreasing mortar joints by up to 2mm is a great way to help make them fit better without noticeable changes (as long as the joints are all the same width).
Brick slips are a great way to bring authentic character, colour and texture to your fireplace and make it a focal point for the room, without it being overbearing. The Brick Tile Company have plenty of examples from how their customers have created brick fireplaces to give you some inspiration on the colours and textures that work for you.