How To Paint A Brick Fireplace

After mucho requests for a fireplace tutorial, we’re here to deliver the goods. As you can see, we’re no strangers to a painted brick fireplace…

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…or two.

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In fact, painting the fireplace in the living room and the den was one of the first things we did when we moved in. Dingy brick can really suck the life out of a room if you’re not careful. Especially the ugly dark red kind that we had when we moved in- and especially when paired with lighter furnishings and wall colors (which just happen to be things that we adore).

Natural brick certainly has a place in many homes (and also in our hearts, it just didn’t work for our light and airy aesthetic- and our brick was especially maroon). So here’s what we did to bring some soft beauty to both of our brick fireplaces in a flash and on the cheap. Gotta love a makeover you can accomplish in an afternoon (no power tools required).

Step 1- Wipe down your bricks with a moist (not sopping wet!) rag to remove any cobwebs or soot.

Step 2- If your bricks are especially soot stained, you’ll want to prime them with oil based primer to ensure that no soot stains bleed through your paint job. Neither of our fireplaces had this problem so we skipped right to step three.

Step 3- Use a nappy roller meant for textured surfaces to apply two to three coats of flat or semi-gloss latex paint (the finish is up to you). You also may need to rely on a paint brush to get into those deep grout crevices. Brick is an especially porous material (which explains why your fireplace may call for three coats) so be sure to have more paint on hand than you’d usually rely on for such a small surface area (our den fireplace took over a gallon of paint, and the one in our living room took nearly half a gallon).

Step 4- Do the happy dance cause you’re done. Easy, right? If you can paint a wall you can definitely paint a brick fireplace.

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Good luck with your big fireplace transformation! Oh and why not take before and after pictures for us while you’re at it? Don’t be surprised if your newly painted fireplace inspires you to continue the makeover with new art above the mantel or a few fresh accessories. Homes are never really finished anyway, are they?

Looking for more ways to spruce up your fireplace? A woven basket full of firewood (we love birch for its crisp look) will add even more inviting ambaince.

Comments

  1. Priscilla says

    We have the traditional brick fireplace too with the glass frame. Just curious – how did you guys paint the glass frame? Did you use the same paint?

    And since we’re on the topic of fireplaces, did you guys put the mantel up yourselves? If so, can you let me in on how you installed it?

    Sorry for all the questions!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Priscilla,

      We actually did paint the glass-framed metal fireplace doors with the same latex paint as the brick, although we would only suggest doing that if you don’t use your fireplace (the living room fireplace with the doors is wood burning and since we our gas one in the den all the time, we don’t generate enough heat from the living room one to make regular paint on the glass-framed doors a problem). Basically if you burn candles in your glass-doored fireplace like we do, you’re great with latex paint on the metal frame. If you burn wood, then you’ll want to remove the glass-framed doors (they easily unscrew inside the fireplace) and bring ’em outside and spray them with heat resistant spray paint made especially for jobs like these. Even if you go with white spray paint and it doesn’t match the white paint on your fireplace exactly, it should still look great because it’s a different material so your eyes won’t expect bricks and metal to be the exact same shade of white anyway.

      As for the mantel, that was already there. Although I’m sure if you googled “DIY mantel hanging” or “how to hang a mantel” you’ll find lots of helpful stuff. Happy hunting!

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  2. Katie says

    Thank you guys, I am so grateful for this diy tutorial! Now let me get back to your post, I haven’t even read it yet.

  3. says

    Your floors looks soo good in these pictures! I can’t wait until we refinished our downstairs so we can have floors that *hopefully* look as nice as yours!

  4. says

    When we moved into our house we had a ton of soot on our fireplace, too. Scrubbing alone didn’t work, but oddly enough, a Mr Clean Magic Eraser did the trick. We have ceramic tiles, but it should work on brick as long as the texture of the brick doesn’t shred the eraser.

    Also, we painted the metal part on our fireplace doors too. Most of the surround was already black but on the doors and lining the frame we had brass. I taped off the doors and surrounding area and just used a black spray paint to refinish it. I didn’t sand it or anything. We’ve had wood burning fires going in it off and on for the last three weeks and it’s still as nice and beautifully black as the day I painted. Make sure to use a high quality spray paint–makes all the difference–and I’d suggest one of the spray paint handles/triggers/nozzles for even coating. That way your paint job has no brush strokes and it looks original.

  5. Gord says

    We painted our brick fireplace. We actually used a brick primer which actually sealed the porous brick first. We were so thankful we did that. One coat of that primer and only one coat of latex over that and it covered very well. I’d recommend that over putting layer after layer of latex on. Talk to your paint store – they’ll advise on which primer to use.

    • Vikky says

      YES! I was just going to comment “Seal the brick first, please.” There are two good reasons for doing this:
      1-If you seal the brick first, it’s easier to paint
      AND
      2-If you seal the brick first, then it’s reversible without having to spend thousands of dollars on sandblasting. Please think of the next DIYer! Some of us LIKE brick!

  6. Julie says

    I’m getting ready to paint my family room & the fireplace. I’m wondering if you have any recommendations about when to paint the fp the same color as the walls and when to paint a contrast color (as in your first pic). Also, we just installed a gas insert – is there any precaution you need to take re: heat/paint? Thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Julie,

      We actually have a gas insert in our den fireplace and there’s be no issue with the paint holding up with the heat of the fire (of course we didn’t paint the inside of the firebox, which remained dark brick). Over two years later ours is as perfect as the day we painted (and we regularly use our gas fireplace all winter long).

      As for when to paint the fireplace a contrasting color, and when to keep it the same color as the walls, we’d generally always recommend doing something to set the fireplace off and make it a focal wall. Our den fireplace, although it appears to be the same color as the walls, is actually a shade darker which subtly draws your eye to that wall as soon as you enter the room (and away from the TV). By contrast, the fireplace in the living room is a few shades lighter than our tan walls, which also makes it the center of attention in the space. The only time we’d suggest keeping the fireplace the same color as the walls is if it’s off centered or oddly placed and you’d like it to blend into the room as opposed to become the feature. Hope it helps! Happy painting…

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  7. says

    I found your website because of the new DIY magazine – I’m on a home improvement binge since I’m not working currently. I was on a mission to find out what color you used in your kitchen, and I love that you have a map of your house with the paint colors – brilliant!

    I’m going to be poking around a lot, but thanks for such a wonderful website.

  8. Julie says

    Thanks Sherry – actually our f/p IS off center and kind of in a wierd spot. So, we may actually paint it the same color as the walls as it really isn’t the focal point of the room. :-)

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Fawn,

      They’re from CB2 for something like $4 each (called the “teardrop vase”). Such a steal. Happy shopping…

      xo,
      Sherry

  9. Fawn says

    Wow, great response time. Thanks, but I am not sure what CB2 is. If they sell something so cute for such a great price I hope they have one in my neck of the woods.

    So what is CB 2?

  10. Jen says

    Hey. This has nothing to do with the fireplace, but please tell me about the shelves in the first photo. I’m looking for some like that in a natural finish (ready for staining). Where could I get them? Thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jen,

      The three white floating shelves in the dining area are actually Ikea’s lack shelves. They come in two different lengths and many different finishes so I’m sure you’ll find something that works perfectly! Just go to ikea.com and search “lack shelf” to see all the options!

      xo,
      Sherry