Split face mosaic on fireplace

split face mosaic fireplace

Last year I sourced split face mosaic for a fireplace / chimney breast for my open plan project and thought that I share with you all the options available on the market in case you are thinking about changing your fireplace surround or you’re building a chimney breast from scratch.  While writing this post, I decided to split it into 2 part series as it would be otherwise one of those never ending stories type of posts. So today I’m focusing on natural stone mosaic.

So what is split face mosaic?
Split face mosaic is created from rustic pieces of natural stone in irregular thicknesses making a three dimensional surface. Because each pixel has different thickness the light creates shades and shadows making the wall very interesting and with a life of its own. It’s rough, but soft at the same time. It’s matt with hints of sparkles here and there.  The mosaic is very modern texture so it’s suitable in modern and contemporary interiors. The pixels are bonded together on a mesh or net in various sizes. More on that below.

Split mosaic options is available in natural stone or man-made stone which is porcelain. Or faux stone.  There is a big difference between natural and man made stone in terms of installation, suitability, maintenance and practicalities.

Research before you head in the shops

So before you even go visiting showrooms you should have a clear idea what you want your fireplace to look like. What material, what are your requirements, what colour, what texture? You should browse the internet, go on Houzz, Pinterest, Homify and other platforms to research what you like. Because the danger is, if you don’t, you might end up with something you don’t like. From my experience showrooms can be very overwhelming. They have 100os of products available to you to look at. Some are on display, others are in brochures. If you don’ know the style, texture or at least the direction of colour (light or dark) then it’s like walking to hairdressers not knowing what haircut you want and ending up walking out with a pixie haircut which you absolutely hate!

To make your life little bit more easier I want to show you the basic options you have when you walk in a showroom or speak to your stone supplier. As I said today, I’m covering natural stones and next week, I will cover porcelain split mosaic.


This is a super hard natural stone which is created by compressing granular rock with high percentage of quartz in it. It might be too technical for you but basically it’s all to do with chemistry which Mother Nature produces. Anyway, Quarzite can be light or dark. Here are some examples.

Split face mosaic quartzite options

So these are your basic colour options. Now you have to decide what size of pixel you want – small/mini or large/maxi. This is the difference.

Split face mosaic quartzite


Split face mosaic quartzite options


Apart from Quarztine, which I used on my project, there are 4 other stones to consider.

Another very hard stone which has a typical riven surface. You might be familiar with black slate that is very common in floor and wall tiles formats, or whole slabs as well. But there is also a lighter version which is only quarried at specific locations.

split face mosaic slate

Again, you have the option to go for mini or maxi pixels. By the way the mini pixels are around 12 H x various widths in mm with between 15 to 20mm thicknesses. They are supplied on a net of approx 550 x 150mm. The maxi pixels are around 37mm H x various widths with 15 to 25mm thicknesses. They usually come on the same size net as the mini.


Basalt is dark, chocolate brown fine grained volcanic rock (cooled from magma either in sea or on land) which has its typical column like pattern. It’s super hard, highly durable and strong material. Apart from mosaic, it can be in tile or slab format too. This picture here shows the split mosaic in square pixels rather than rectangles.

split face mosaic basalt


Now, limestone is another completely different texture. It’s a stone made from compressed rock, stone and fossils. Its texture is slightly grainy and highly uneven. The most common colour options are cream/white, gold and grey depending on its quarry location. For example,  the gold one is quarried in Egypt.

split face mosaic limestoneLimestone can be polished, honed or matt and is also available in tile and slab format. Limestone is popular as a floor tile in kitchens and bathrooms. The split face mosaic is much more interesting though.


And finally, travertine. Travertine is a form of limestone (not that I want to confuse you too much) but it can be found around mineral springs rather than at sea level. So its texture and composition is slightly different. It has a typical fibrous appearance (with holes) and is available in white, tan, cream-colored, and even rusty colour options. It’s quite difficult to recognise if it’s polished finish because the manufacturers fill the holes and then it looks more like limestone.

split face mosaic travertine

So these are the basic 5 natural stone options in split mosaic format. To give you some idea how they look like in interiors, here are some inspirational images to look at.

The last thing I want to mention regarding natural stone is that because of its nature sometimes it needs to be treated and protected. It is a highly porous material and any accidental splashes e.g. while cleaning the floor may stain the stone which is not easily removable. The stone just absorbs it like a sponge. So just bear this  in mind. Your supplier can however recommend appropriate protection which is prevent damaging the stone’s surface.

Have you got split mosaic in your home? Why did you go for it? Let me know. Happy to help and source, if you’re looking to make your fireplace more modern.

Happy Wednesday!

Karolina Barnes Studio


PS. All interior images via Houzz. Cover my own project.