A Guide To Properly Painting a Brick Fireplace
Fireplaces are a wonderful style element in a space. They can act as a focal point to tie the room’s design together and add a sense of warmth and comfort to a space. However, fireplaces are such a permanent part of the home’s architecture, so it can be difficult to work around them. But there are a few ways to update your fireplace, and a can of paint is one of them.
But painting a fireplace is different than painting your walls or furniture and can prove challenging if you are inexperienced. Fortunately, we have compiled a guide to properly painting a brick fireplace to help you accomplish this task.
Why Paint Your Fireplace?
Easy Way To Update Your Space
As we mentioned, fireplaces can be a difficult-to-navigate challenge. The open brick can either bring a rustic charm to a space or leave it feeling severely dated. While it is possible to remove the fireplace, it can be incredibly labor-intensive and potentially compromise the house’s structural integrity. Painting the fireplace, when done correctly, will give a modern, charming look to a living room or den.
Make a Space Appear Bigger
Fireplaces can play tricks on the eyes. Depending on the size and color of it, as well as how you utilize the space around it, it can make a room feel bigger or smaller and more crowded. This is especially true of large or warm color fireplaces. By changing the color, you can potentially change how guests perceive the space in your room.
Supplies for Painting a Fireplace
No painting project starts with picking up a brush. It starts with cleaning the surface, and cleaning brick surfaces takes a little more effort. For this cleaning job, you’ll need:
- A wire cleaning brush
- Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
- A shop-vac or other industrial vacuum cleaner
- A sponge
Also, be sure you have safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself while cleaning, as well as a drop cloth to protect the rest of the house.
If you’ve done any painting in the past, you know there are times when primer is necessary and times when it’s not. Painting a fireplace is definitely in the former category. Skipping primer, even when the fireplace has been previously painted, can lead to the paint fading and spotting over time. This is because fireplace bricks are especially prone to allowing moisture in.
If you look among our collection of zero VOC* primers, you will notice we have a special masonry primer. This type of primer is designed especially for porous, non-waterproof surfaces like fireplaces to help with paint adhesion in the long run.
The Right Paint
With the right primer, our water-based, zero VOC paints should work just fine on your fireplace bricks as long as they don’t get too hot. But as you decide which paint to use, you may want to keep these ideas in mind.
Fireplaces, especially ones you use regularly, tend to be prone to dust and ash, so your first instinct may be to reach for the more durable, high-sheen paints such as gloss. However, high-gloss paints reflect light brightly and put every imperfection on display. When applied to a fireplace, this can distract the eye from the fireplace itself. Opt for a medium-sheen paint such as eggshell or semi-gloss for the best results.
There is a whole world of color options for fireplace paint, depending on the style you want for your house. Here are a few popular options:
- White or whitewashed
- Dark blue
Some people who don’t want to stray too far from the original brick colors of the fireplace may decide to paint their fireplaces red. This helps capture the color while still giving the brick an updated-looking finish.
Protip: Mantle Color
Remember, we don’t view color in a vacuum. The colors that are beside it directly impact how we perceive it, and in your fireplace’s case, the closest colors to it may be the wooden mantle that’s fixed above it. When choosing fireplace colors, remember to consider how the paint color will look beside your mantle’s color, or paint the mantle as well.
Brush and Rollers
When it comes to choosing a paint roller for your project, the more textured the surface, the thicker you want your roller cover to be. Since brick is one of the most textured surfaces you’ll come up against, look for a foam roller cover that is at least 1¼ to 1½ inches thick. Your brush’s job is to cover the cracks between the bricks, so you will need a smaller artist’s brush. Synthetic bristles work best for water-based paints.
Painting the Fireplace
Cleaning the Surface
As we mentioned, surface preparation is half the battle when it comes to painting. And with a surface as prone to dust as a fireplace, this is especially important. That’s why we use a wire brush to knock off the dust and debris and then a sponge and TSP. TSP acts as a degreaser and cleaner for the toughest areas in our home. After you’re done, use the shop-vac to pick up dirt and debris that may be on the floor.
Once the brick has completely dried, it’s time to apply the primer. Start with the paintbrush and paint along the mortar between the bricks. Then, use the roller to apply an even coat of primer to the rest of the fireplace. Because brick is porous, it will absorb what you put on it, so you will likely need to apply two coats of primer for the best results. Make sure the primer has completely dried before adding an additional coat.
From here, you can apply paint to the fireplace following the same steps you used when applying the primer. When painting, make sure your focus is on the exterior of the fireplace and not inside the firebox. Only heat-resistant paints will be able to stand this area.
At ECOS Paints, we believe in helping you meet all the biggest design challenges. Whether the question is “Can I paint my bedroom?” or “Can I paint a brick fireplace?” we have the paint to help you get the job done.
*Zero VOC - Conforms to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at 11, 12, & 14 days for classroom and office use).