PHASE I: Slate Tiles (cont.)
Once the ends of the bricks are tiled, spread mortar onto the brick facing and set those slate tiles into place. Again, use the mallet to tap the slate firmly into the mortar (step 2).

After applying slate to the left and right sides of the firebox opening, trowel mortar onto the brick face above the opening.

Before setting the horizontal row of tiles on the brick above the opening, erect a support shelf to prevent the tiles from sliding down. Cut a 1x3 to fit across the width of the opening, then wedge it in place with two vertical 1x3s and two shims. Now back-butter the slate tiles and set them into the mortar over the opening (step 3).

Let the mortar cure overnight, then remove the spacers and fill the joints with grout. To speed up this step, I filled a sandwich bag with grout, snipped off one corner and squeezed the grout directly into the joints (step 4).

Remove any excess grout with a plastic putty knife or wood shim (a metal tool will scratch the slate). Wait 20 minutes, then wipe the slate clean with a wet sponge (step 5).

After 45 minutes, buff the slate with a dry cotton cloth.
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