How to Paint a Brick Fireplace

If you follow me on Facebook then you’ve probably seen the pictures of my freshly-painted fireplace, one of the seemingly million steps in our progress toward an updated living room, kitchen, and powder room. As promised, I’m sharing the process I used to transform our dated red brick fireplace to a modern painted surface. Please notice that I said I’m sharing my process, which is not the only process and may or may not be the best process. I’m not a home improvement professional, so I can only tell you what I did in the spirit of a friend chatting over coffee. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

Update: In case you’re considering a tile project, I shared some of my DIY tile adventures here. I also made my own chalk paint and painted frames for some of my daughter’s art. The how-tos are available here.

Learn How to Paint a Brick Fireplace with A Chat Over Coffee

Learn How to Paint a Brick Fireplace with A Chat Over Coffee

I’m assuming your fireplace is structurally sound. If it isn’t, you’ll need to remedy that before you paint, and that’s outside of the scope of what we’re discussing today. Don’t hesitate to get a professional involved if needed!

Also, do not get any of these products inside of the fire box of the fireplace because these products are not intended to withstand flame. These instructions are for painting the surrounding brick and hearth. My fireplace also has an insert with a blower, so I painted the decorative metal facing with an appropriate high heat paint. If you need work done inside the fire box or chimney you should hire a chimney sweep or other licensed professional.

At the risk of stating the obvious, you should not attempt to paint a fireplace when you have a fire going. The fire should be totally out and the fireplace (and insert, if you have one) cooled to room temperature before you begin.

I ordered a lot of supplies through Ebates so I could get a cash back rebate. You can sign up here (My referral link, thank you!), then go through the Ebates site to get to your home improvement store site. Order the desired products from your home improvement store web site and select in-store pickup to avoid shipping fees. Depending upon the store you choose, you should receive an email and/or text message from the store in an hour or two telling you that your order is ready. Once you’ve picked up your order you should receive an email from Ebates in the next day or so telling you how much cash back you’ve earned. Ebates cash back rebates are paid quarterly. I LOVE Ebates!

You can do it! Learn how to paint a brick fireplace with A Chat Over Coffee.

You can do it! Learn how to paint a brick fireplace with A Chat Over Coffee.

 

Step One: Clean the fireplace surface really, really, really well.

What You’ll Need:

  • A shop vac (or at least a heavy duty vacuum cleaner)
  • Drop cloths
  • TSP (tri sodium phosphate) or TSP alternative crystals
  • A bucket
  • Water
  • A scrubbing brush with wire bristles
  • Rags

What To Do:

  1. Go over your (structurally sound) fireplace really, really well with the shop vac. You don’t want any dirt, wood chips, bits of loose material, or anything else to get stuck in your paint. Get the shop vac out of the way before you start the water-based cleaning.
  2. Use drop cloths to protect floors or other surfaces that you don’t want to splatter.
  3. Mix the TSP (or TSP alternative) solution in the bucket according to the package directions. I used this TSP alternative.
  4. Scrub every single inch of the brick with the TSP solution and a wire bristled brush. I used a brush we already had on hand and it had a metal scraper on one end. If you have to buy a brush, I suggest getting one like this without the scraper because it will make it easier to get into the corners.
  5. Rinse the brick thoroughly with water, using a rag to wipe everything down really well.
  6. Rinse the brick thoroughly again with water, using a rag to wipe everything down really well. You don’t want any product left on the brick when you get ready to apply the primer.
  7. Let the brick get completely, totally, absolutely dry. I’ll confess that I cheated and used space heaters to hurry the drying process along.
  8. Use the shop vac once again to make sure there are absolutely no bits of loose material left on the brick where they may be trapped in the primer.

Step Two: Apply Primer

What You’ll Need:

  • Drop cloths
  • Masonry primer
  • A 3” paint brush (or your favorite size)
  • A 4” paint roller with extra roller covers (3/8” nap) and a paint tray
  • Painter’s tape

What To Do:

  1. Prepare the work area by using drop cloths to cover floors or other surfaces that you don’t want accidentally splattered. Jay & I will be replacing our floors, so that wasn’t a problem, but I did use drop cloths to protect the boxes of new flooring we have stacked near the fireplace. I also pulled up the old carpet around the fireplace and rolled it out of the way so I could prime and paint all the way down to the bottom of the brick.
  2. Use painter’s tape to mask off the edges of areas you don’t want to prime. I had to mask off the mantle, walls, and the metal facing of the fireplace insert.

    rolling on primer

    Use a 4″ paint roller to apply primer to the surface of the brick. Use a paint brush to get the spots the roller won’t reach. | A Chat Over Coffee

  3. Using the 4” paint roller, apply masonry primer (I used this one. Ask at the paint counter if you need a suggestion.) to as much of the surface of the brick as you possibly can. Use the paint brush to prime the brick and mortar surfaces you can’t prime with the roller. Take your time. You’ll have to look at each surface from several angles to make sure you didn’t miss any spots. Don’t get in too much of a hurry with this step and don’t skip spots because the quality of your final finish will depend on properly applied primer. I only applied one coat but I used decent quality primer and was very, very particular about it.
  4. Remove the tape while the primer is still wet so you don’t pull off dried primer with the tape.

Step Three: Paint the Brick

What You’ll Need:

  • Drop cloths
  • Paint (I used Glidden Duo indoor latex paint in eggshell finish color matched to Dutch Boy 442-3DB Sultry Gray.)
  • A 3” paint brush (or your favorite size)
  • A 4” paint roller with extra roller covers (3/8” nap) and a paint tray
  • Painter’s tape

What To Do:

  1. Make sure your primer is dry before you begin painting!
  2. If you haven’t already put down drop cloths to cover floors or other surfaces you don’t want to paint, now is the time to do it.
  3. Use painter’s tape to mask off the edges of areas you don’t want to paint. I had to mask off the mantle, walls, and the metal facing of the fireplace insert. Yes, I actually pulled off the tape while the primer was still wet and reapplied fresh tape before I started painting. I did this to keep the tape from pulling off any of my new wall paint and to keep dry primer from pulling off when I removed the tape. It took a few extra minutes but was worth it.

    rolling on paint

    My paint looked very different wet than it did dry. The top two rows are partly dried, the bottom row is wet, and the mortar is still the color of the primer. | A Chat Over Coffee

  4. Use the 4” paint roller to paint as much of the surface of the brick as you possibly can. You’ll probably find that the paint goes on much more smoothly than the primer because properly applied primer is supposed to make that happen. Use the paint brush to paint the surfaces the roller won’t reach. Take your time, look at the surface from several angles, and make sure you don’t skip spots. I only needed one coat but I purchased quality paint and was very, very particular about how I applied it.
  5. Remove the tape while the paint is still wet so you don’t pull off dried paint with the tape. I didn’t use a sealer after painting the brick but I did use decent quality paint. I’ve been sitting on the hearth and the surface seems to be holding up so far.

    fireplace after

    How to Paint a Brick Fireplace with A Chat Over Coffee | The walls are painted with Glidden Premium interior latex in eggshell finish color matched to Dutch Boy 442-2DB Centuryed Gray. The fireplace brick is painted with Glidden Duo interior latex in eggshell finish color matched to Dutch Boy 442-3DB Sultry Gray. The facing of the insert is painted with Rust-Oleum High Heat enamel in BBQ Black.

Step Four (optional): Paint the Front of the Fireplace Insert

What You’ll Need:

What To Do:

  1. Make sure your brick paint is dry before you begin this step!
  2. Use the shop vac to clean the edges of the fire box where it contacts the insert doors so you don’t accidentally get ashes in your paint.
  3. If you haven’t already put down drop cloths to cover floors, the hearth, or other surfaces you don’t want to paint, you are a very brave soul or perhaps a much tidier painter than I am. I need drop cloths.
  4. Use painter’s tape to mask off the edges of areas you don’t want to paint. I had to mask off the edges of my freshly-painted brick and the glass doors of the fireplace insert.
  5. Open the insert doors slightly and keep them open until the fresh paint dries. You don’t want to mar your paint surface or have the doors stick shut.
  6. Use a quality paint brush and quality high heat paint (I used this paint. Ask at your paint counter if you need suggestions.) to paint the metal facing of the fireplace insert. Do not paint inside the fire box! Paint from dry areas into wet and take your time to make sure the surface is smooth and even. I did one full coat and then went back when the paint was dry and touched up some areas. I found the smooth metal surface showed more flaws, so I had to go back over it to get a nice finish.
  7. Remove the tape while the paint is still wet so you don’t pull off dried paint with the tape.
  8. Clean the glass before you take pictures. (I obviously didn’t do this. Sorry!)
You can do it! Learn how to paint a brick fireplace with A Chat Over Coffee.

You can do it! Learn how to paint a brick fireplace with A Chat Over Coffee.

This was a huge, brave thing for me to undertake all by myself, so I am really proud that I did it and that it turned out so well. My daughter informed me that the fireplace looks “classy” now. I’m glad she saw me complete this project and that she approves of the results because I want her to know she is capable of doing things, too.

If you paint your fireplace or another brick surface in your home, please share a picture on my Facebook page or Twitter feed! I’d love to see your results!

Update: Want to see the finished kitchen? Look here!

What will be your next painting project?

This post contains affiliate/referral links. If you click through and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee but your price will not change. Your support helps me cover the costs associated with running this site, so thank you very much!

I moderate comments manually but will get them posted as quickly as possible. Please keep your comments kind and if you must disagree please do so without being disagreeable. Rude or inappropriate comments will obviously not be published.

Update: This post was shared at Pretty Pintastic Party #88, The Art of Home-Making Mondays #89, A Tray of Bliss Five-Star Frou-Frou #33, Best of the Weekend and Features 1.21.16, Roses of Inspiration #46, and Home Matters Linky Party #69.

 

24 responses to “How to Paint a Brick Fireplace

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  3. Looks like you did a nice job. We don’t have a fireplace; we have a wood burning stove in the house though. It’s especially nice this time of year.

    Our next painting project will probably be our old barn. It is the one closest to our house and was built in 1898. We are planning on getting a barn quilt for it and before it is put up we want the barn looking its best. There have been no dairy cows in it for years but the family has maintained it. My daughter now uses it for her dairy goats and some chickens. We’ll paint it ourselves with help from relatives.

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  5. It came out wonderful! Now you have me thinking about our fireplace! Thank you for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! 🙂

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  6. What a fabulous idea and it turned out great! Thanks so much for sharing with Rose of Inspiration. I hope you’re able to join us again tomorrow. Hugs!

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  10. Wow, looks great, I can’t wait paint my 28 year old brick fireplace gray. Your pictures & detail instructions were very helpful.

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  11. That looks great, but I have a question. I’m currently living in a rental with a white painted fireplace. It LOOKS pretty, but I have come to loathe it! The white shows every little bit of anything – you can’t set a cup of tea down on it, there are marker and crayon marks that can’t be removed, etc.

    The paint peels from wear and tear (and with 7 kids, there’s a lot of wear and tear!). It might look better if it was a darker color, but there would still be the issue of the peeling. Did whoever paint my fireplace just do a poor job, or what?

    We’re moving into a house we’re buying soon, and it has a traditional brick fireplace. I realize the painted look is trendy, but I wonder if it stands up to heavy duty use? Thanks for answering!

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    • Good question! My kids are older (high school and university) so we are beyond the crayon years. We ended up moving after we redid the kitchen (called to a new ministry), so I can only say that the surface held up while we were there (months, not years), and that I sat on it and put drinks and metal fireplace tools on it.

      We also put a new, dark floor in that room. The dark floor showed everything and I would absolutely pick a different color if I had it to do over. My father used to work summers for the county parks department and they always used white trucks because they actually showed less dust than black ones.

      My new house has stone fireplaces and we don’t plan to paint them. We just didn’t like the red brick in the other house.

      That’s probably not as complete an answer as you’d hoped for, but it’s my experience. I sure hope it helps! Best wishes for a smooth transition to your new home!

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