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Faux tin tile fireplace makeover

Mission accomplished! The antique spinach dip tile on the dining room fireplace has been successfully disguised with removable panels. Apologies, Rookwood fans. But don't despair. If someday you buy this house from us, you can pull off these sheets of embossed thermoplastic and the spinach dip will be yours to enjoy. Yum.

I used Fasade backsplash sheets for this makeover, which I first saw in a rack at Home Depot. They're lightweight, easy to cut, and since this isn't a working fireplace, they're not going to melt. After gleefully hatching my plan, I contacted the manufacturer to see if they'd send complimentary tiles for this experiment in exchange for reporting on the project (success or epic fail). Score! So a huge thank you to Fasade.

Fasade panels come in different sizes for walls, ceilings, and backsplashes in a variety of finishes and designs: modern, traditional, and industrial. I chose from the traditional category to match the look of the mantel, and selected the pattern with the smallest repeat so that more than one square would show along the sides of the fireplace cover. Traditional 6 in Brushed Nickel was my pick (the left-most swatch in the Before photo and the top swatch above).

I measured the swatches and determined that each repeat is a 3" square. I made a quick diagram in Illustrator to see how many 18" x 24" backsplash sheets I'd need, color coding each panel to show where the leftover cutouts could be used. Six sheets would do the job.

Supplies included a cutting mat, utility knife, ruler (this plastic quilting one didn't slide around as much as my metal cork-backed one), tape measure, kitchen scissors for trimming off extra bits, and a Sharpie. I hung the panels with a combination of poster putty and self-adhesive foam tape.

Removal instructions on the mounting tape state that brushing rubber cement onto any left-behind goo will make it easy to rub off the sticky residue with your finger. So I'm confident these will come off without harming the tile.

Each panel is covered with a protective plastic film you remove at the end of the job. I marked my cuts on the film with a Sharpie, and after the film peeled off, no markings showed on the final panels. For each cut, I scored the panel by sliding a utility knife along a ruler a couple times. No need to cut all the way through� just bend the panel back and forth along the score and it will snap apart.

The fireplace required a ridiculous number of cuts in the floor panels to get them to fit around the mantel pillars. I drew a diagram on paper for those and labeled the length and placement of each of the dozen-or-so cuts needed for each piece. They ended up too snug in a couple spots so I trimmed off bits with a scissors until the panels fit.

Tedious but worth it.

Once all the pieces were cut to size, I peeled off the protective films and stuck the panels to the tile. In a couple spots the old tile was sunken in, so I built up those areas with poster putty. I put small pieces of foam adhesive tape in the corners of each panel and one or two along the seams. Fasade panels are designed to overlap one another at the edges, so I made sure to apply the panels in the right order.

So much better! (Hey look, there's the head.) Next project: more wallpaper. Why stop with just an accent wall? We're going to cover the whole room. It's going to be crazy and wonderful. Or crazy and terrible, which is a distinct possibility, but we're going for it. If you think this is a bad idea, don't tell me. I'm sure I've already had every thought that has just flitted through your mind, and then I squelched them in my enthusiasm for making a room that is unlike any dining room I've been in before.

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