A fireplace featuring decorative tiling can be a lovely accent in your home, but once the tiles start to become stained and discolored, it becomes more of an eyesore than a design feature. There isn't much you can do about the situation, since the soot and heat produced by the fire are certain to have an effect over the years. You might be concerned that you will have to rip out the whole mantle surround and put in a new one, but that isn't necessarily the case. Here's a look at how to paint your fireplace tiles to give new life to your hearth at a fraction of the cost and labor.

Your first course of action will be to clean the entire fireplace, which includes the interior too. You will want to ensure that all remnants of soot and ash are removed so they can't float into the paint. As you're washing the tiles, remember to clean the grout too. You can find grout and tile cleaners which can eliminate practically any stain that you can think of. At this point, look for any grout that's starting to disintegrate and fix it. As soon as everything is dry, it's time to move on to the next step.

At this time you will have to sand the tiles so as to abrade the finish, meaning that the paint will be able to adhere to the tile. Don't sand in only one direction; you should alternate between sideways and up and down movements for optimal results. Continue sanding until the tiles have lost all their gloss. Opt for a fine grade of sandpaper. You might prefer to use an electric sander to hurry things up a bit.

At this point, you will put on the primer. Choose a product specifically made for painting surfaces like tiles. This step will stop any stains and residue from making their way to the surface, as well as providing something for the paint to adhere to. It's very easy for primer to be set on fire, so be sure to avoid getting any on the interior of the fireplace, the screen or the fireplace heat exchanger. Put on two coats and let it dry for an entire day. After that, sand it lightly to get it ready for the paint.

You'll need latex paint for this part, preferably semi-gloss because it reflects the firelight nicely and is easier to clean. Brush it on smoothly, making sure to get into all the little nooks and crannies. Let it dry for a couple of hours, followed by a second coat.

Another idea is to use spray paint with a flecked effect that resembles marble or stone. Prior to spraying, make certain to cover up the walls and other adjoining areas. It will appear more authentic if you clean off the paint from the grout to maintain the masonry effect. You may discover, however, that the grout is simply too discolored to be left bare, which means you might have to paint it white.

A further option is to give everything a coat of white paint, then add some texture and color with a sponge dipped in a complementary shade of paint. You will want to opt for a color only slightly darker than the backdrop. Be careful to avoid getting paint on the grout as you're doing this.

To complement your striking new fireplace surround, maybe you should treat yourself to some new fireplace tools and accessories to finish off the look with style.