[UPDATE: After reading the question and answers, please see this blog that shows how the fireplace renovation was completed.]
I am getting ready to begin tiling part of my fireplace. The current finish is a wooden mantle surrounding a masonry façade that runs to the outside edge of the firebox.
This is the current appearance.
I plan to place ceramic tiles over the masonry portion of the façade. I will probably use stoneware tiles (in an arts and crafts style), either 4x4 or 8x8 for the bulk of the field, possibly with decorative tiles in the corners. (I realize I will have to cut tile, use other sizes, use border tiles, or adjust the moldings to deal with the slightly wider upper field.) I will also check with the manufacturer/supplier to ensure that they are suitable for fireplace installation.
The surface of the masonry façade appears to be a cement-like finish that has been trowelled to look like brick. Here is a close-up.
The surface seems very solid ith no areas breaking away except for minimal chipping in a few places at the very edge. The surface also seems to be painted. There is no significant flaking or loose paint. See below.
I am not sure what is below the cement-like surface. I suspect brick, but am not certain. The fireplace was built around 1905 and possible renovated in 1999, but I am not certain.
My questions are about installation:
1. Do I have to remove the cement surface before tiling?
2. Do I have to strip the paint?
3. What mortar, mastic, adhesive or thinset should be used to hold the tiles?
Obviously, I would like to minimize the prep work but want a strong adhesion.