A room with a fireplace and mantel should be the focal point of your home, but if it’s drab and outdated, chances are, it’s not much of an eye-catcher. Luckily, if you have time and love to DIY, painting a brick fireplace could be the perfect weekend project to change the look and feel of your room.
However, don’t start painting right away. Painting brick is very different than other DIY projects, such as painting walls. Applying paint to brick takes certain steps to create a fresh look you’ll enjoy, without any headaches. Here’s how to paint a brick fireplace.
Is Painting Brick Right for You?
Painting a brick fireplace can make for a great, modern update to any room. However, homeowners should evaluate the pros and cons of painting brick. Once brick is painted, the change is permanent and the natural brick look is gone. Though there is a process to remove paint from brick, the chemicals that are used rarely return the brick back to its original state.
To paint brick, the material must be in good condition. Cracked or chipped brick will not allow the paint to go on smoothly. If you’re brick fireplace is in bad condition, consider a repair before painting.
The benefits, however, may outweigh the drawbacks for your home. If your fireplace is in good condition and you’re ready to update your home, painting will save you a significant amount of money compared to replacing your fireplace. You also have the option of more colors for either a bright, modern look or keeping it neutral. DIYers ready to take on this project should note that this process will take several days to complete, due to the length of time it takes for brick to dry.
Choose the Right Paint
The quality and kind of paint is important when it comes to painting your brick fireplace. Choose a latex paint in a flat, semi-gloss or gloss finish. If the fireplace is still in use, you’ll need to purchase heat-resistant paint, especially important if you plan on painting the firebox as well. Though painting the inside of a functioning fireplace is possible, it’s not recommended as the paint is not likely to last.
If you’re unsure of what paint to use, contact a pro.
- Spray bottle
- Trisodium phosphate cleaner
- Gloves & goggles
- Stiff-bristled scrub brush
- Brick primer
- Paint roller
- Paint tray
- Two paint brushes, one stiff brush for the brick and one smaller for the mortar
- High-Quality Paint, double the amount you’d use on typical wall space
- Painter's tape
Clean the Brick Fireplace
The most important part in painting your fireplace starts with giving it a good cleaning first. The paint will not stick to dirty brick. Oftentimes, older brick will have efflorescence on it as well. This is the white, powdery salt deposit that occurs on brick after many years. This is not harmful, but will need to be thoroughly removed before painting.
Start with a mix of one-part vinegar and one-part water in your spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the brick and begin scrubbing. You’ll want to clean thoroughly over and around all of the brick. If you see that dirt and residue are still on the brick after the first scrub, try using the stronger trisodium phosphate cleaner. When using this cleaner, be sure to wear gloves and goggles, as this solution can be harmful to your skin.
Prepare the Brick
Examine the brick and note any areas that are chipped or where mortar is damaged. It’s highly recommended to repair the brick before continuing to paint. It’s very important to let the bricks dry before applying any paint. Even though they may feel dry to the touch, the insides of the brick could still contain moisture. To speed up the drying process, turn on a fan to circulate air in the room. Use painter's tape to mask off any areas you don’t wish to paint before priming.
A great paint job always starts with primer. You’ll want to have a primer that specifically is designed for brick and masonry, which you can find on the label. As you start priming, you’ll find that the brick will soak up the paint. Use a roller and brush to apply the primer to the area. You should plan to do more than one coat. When you’ve finished priming, wait for it to dry completely before moving on to your paint.
Paint the Fireplace
Pour your paint of choice into the tray and begin to cover the brick surface. Start with a roller from top to bottom to evenly cover the surface. This will be a good starting point, but if the brick is not smooth, you’ll need to fill in mortar and other details the roller may have missed. Expect to do at least two coats of paint. Allow the paint to fully dry before applying the second coat and before removing any painter's tape. This will take longer to dry because of all the crevasses in the brick. When you’re done, admire your new painted fireplace!
Painting your fireplace can truly make a space feel like a whole new room. A fresh coat of paint can give on old fireplace new life with a whole new purpose. For fireplaces not in use, try placing a few candles in the firebox to give it the same illusion without the hassle. Or, create shelving to display small collectibles or books. Whatever you decide, your painted fireplace is sure to be the talking point of your room.
Do you want a mantel to compliment your painted fireplace? Read How To Build A Mantel and see how you can create the perfect piece.