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Retiling or painting old hearth safely

New Contributor

Retiling or painting old hearth safely



We are about to lay new floating floors in our place and I want to take the opportunity to update our hearth. The house was built in the 40s and I think the hearth is original although I can’t be certain. When we bought the place I had an asbestos survey and they said I should presume the backer board on the hearth is asbestos containing. So I am reluctant to disturb it or remove it. We could paint the old tiles but my concerns are that sanding the tiles and grout to prepare the surface for painting could itself be hazardous (I’ve read online that sometimes tile grout was asbestos containing?)
The paint could also get scratched as it’s on the floor. 

I think we should retile over the existing. Has anyone had experience with this and what was the result? Any other tips on updating old hearths safely would be appreciated. 
I should add - the fireplace isn’t in use and the chimney is capped. 

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: Retiling or painting old hearth safely

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Saltwater. It's wonderful to have you join us, and many thanks for your question about updating your hearth tiles.


As you've mentioned, there's the possibility of the grout containing asbestos. If you don't want to take the chances of disturbing it, I'd recommend you simply coat the tiles with Crommelin 1L Tile On Tile Primer before applying your tile adhesive and new tiles. That way, you won't be taking any risks, which is always best practice when dealing with the possibility of asbestos.


Let me mention @TedBear to see if he has any thoughts.




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Valued Contributor

Re: Retiling or painting old hearth safely

What a nuisance for you @Saltwater ... 

The fact that the tiled area is framed means it should be possible to have the whole section, backing and all, lifted and removed....  but...

that is not a DIY job, due the asbestos risk.  

Have you had a quote to get it removed professionally?

Getting rid of it would save you a lot of concerns for the future and remove the limits on what you can do to redecorate the area.


However if you don't wish to go down that route, then I would go with @MitchellMc 's suggestions regarding coating the surface and tiling over.


This is just my personal opinion, but I think a small brick-look tile and laying pattern would look great in front of the hearth, as if it always belonged there. A brick look would also be acceptable with it sitting higher above the floor level due to the 2 layers of tiles.

Hopefully we will all get to see what ever you decide to do with it.


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