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. Carmen says

    Sherry,
    Have you ever had anyone show concern with painting fireplaces and that being a set back when selling a house? I mentioned the idea of painting our fireplace when we moved into our house, and my real estate agent balked at the idea. What’s up?

    Thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Carmen,

      We’ve actually heard realtors who advise against painting dark paneling and brick while others advise to do all that you can to expand and brighten a space (because lighter, brighter, and bigger-looking rooms sell more easily). We personally decorate our house for us since we’ll be here a while (we have no plan to sell anytime soon). And we think in our case that painting the fireplaces totally updated each room (check out our before gallery to see them without paint) so we actually think the revamped fireplace look will come in handy if and when we end up putting the house on the market. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  2. Jen says

    We have a double sided fireplace between our dining room and living room which is nice, but it is the old school red brick with the goldish looking surround so we want to paint it. My only problem is that the brick extends from the fireplace all the way down to a connecting side wall about 7-8 feet. How would you make it all look connected?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jen,

      I would paint the whole darn thing the same color (both the fireplace and the brick that extends down to the connecting side wall). We actually not only had a brick fireplace wall in our den, but the entire left wall of the room was also brick- so strange! Two walls of the room were bad red brick and the other two walls were dark dated wood paneling. The moment we painted everything it was instantly neutralized and looked so much more current and fresh. Hope it helps!

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  3. Michele says

    Looks absolutely amazing! Would this same technique work for a tiled fireplace? Or would the paint make the tile & grout look cheap & unfinished because the smooth-ish surface of the tile would take on the inevitable texture of paint strokes or roller texture? This would be such a great way to improve our very out-dated brown tile without the cost of having it redone!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Michele,

      Good question! I would suggest doing a little google research and hitting up your local Home Depot or Lowe’s to ask the paint department people, but I’m fairly certain regular latex or oil paint won’t properly adhere to tile due to the super shiny texture (it will peel and flake off over time- ick!). There are newer paints and glazes these days that are actually designed to work on tile (you might want to google “DIY tile reglazing” as that’s actually what it’s called and see what you find). And remember to wear a mask when you use that stuff- it’s super smelly but will probably turn out magnificently! Oh and of course you can also pay a much smaller amount to get someone to professionally reglaze your fireplace tiles (look in the yellow pages for someone who does “tile reglazing”) than it would cost to get the tile gutted and replaced. Hope it helps!

      Happy hunting…

      xo,
      Sherry

  4. says

    Hi! I’m not sure if you’ll see this comment since it’s coming in so late, but I’ve actually bookmarked this tutorial because we are going to paint our nasty stone fireplace. BUT I’m having trouble deciding on a paint color. Did you go stark white or did you choose a white “color” for the brick and mantle? (I know you list your house colors on your site, but I didn’t see anything about the fireplace colors…sorry if I missed it somewhere!) Thanks a bunch!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hi Sarah,

      Good question. It looks pretty close to white, but we actually painted it a very light grey (Glidden’s Ruffled Feather). We did that because we have lots of white accessories (candles, coral, frames, etc) that we like to display on the mantle, and we wanted them to pop ever-so-slightly. Hope that helps!

      -John

  5. Anne says

    Hi, this is a really random question. How did you hang the mirror that is in the first picture. I have had no luck finding information on the best way to hang items on a fireplace. Can you please tell me what you did? Thanks!!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Anne,

      So glad you asked! There’s actually a secret to hanging things on a brick wall or fireplace. Lowe’s and Home Depot sell these clamp type things (they’re small springy thigs made of metal that you can find in the aisle with all the screw and nails and hooks and anchors) that are designed to squeeze between the cracks in bricks (on the grout line) and hold a piece of art or a mirror in place.

      Just check out the aisle with all the hooks and anchors and you’re sure to see them (maybe they’re called “brick hooks”?) and of course you can ask someone who might be able to direct you there faster than looking at every doodad in that area.

      If you have very thin spaces between each brick, or if there isn’t enough room to jam one of the hanging springs, you can always use a thin drill bit to carefully prepare a hole for a screw or nail to be gently inserted into the grout (always use the grout and not the bricks!) to hang something. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  6. says

    hi there!
    great tutorial – thank you. my house has a stone fireplace. the stones themselves are not too bad but the grout between is thick, gray, ugly, sloppy, and dated. i was thinking about just painting the whole fireplace. a question for you if you could please help me. can i just paint the grout? (and see if i like it. if i don’t then i’d just paint everything). would i just use regular paint? or should i just regrout over the current grout with a colored (white) grout (if there is such a thing).
    any help appreciated! thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jen,

      Yup, you can definitely paint the grout with a small brush and some latex paint, but be sure to keep the paint off the stone as any drips probably can’t be removed (stone is super porous). It’s a great idea because you can step back and see how you like it, and if you’d rather just paint the whole fireplace after giving it a whirl, at least you tried the grout thing first!

      It’s important to note that painting fireplace grout with latex paint will work while painting bathroom grout with latex paint won’t (along with any grout that’s on the floor). But since it’s on the wall and not in a moist environment like a bathroom, the paint should stick to the grout just as it sticks to the grout AND the stone in any other fireplace-painting instance. Hope it helps! Happy painting…

      xo,
      Sherry

  7. Brandi says

    Hi Sherry. I have fallen in love with your site. I too, love all things relating to decorating. I get so excited when I find a fabulous deal! Anyway, love the brick painted….my question is: We have a 70’s stone fireplace. You know–that lovely stone that looks like huge boulders sticking out of the wall. My hubby doesn’t mind it since it’s neutral colors and goes with our wall color, but I was contemplating painting it a deeper shade of our wall color. Is painting a fireplace reserved only for brick?? Thanks for your help :)

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Brandi,

      Some people are probably going to want to stone me with pieces of your fireplace for saying this, but a stone fireplace can look really fabulous when it’s painted. That’s not to say that we don’t like them au naturale (because there are many lovely cottage-rustic ones that look great all muted and grey and tan and fabulous). But if you think it makes your room dark, overwhelming, or cave-man prehistoric, then painting it a shade deeper or even a shade lighter than you wall color is a great idea! It’ll blend seamlessly and still become a soft focal point in the space with tons of character and charm.

      We saw Thom Felicia paint a stone fireplace a deep chocolate brown and it turned out lovely. And of course we’ve seen them in glossy white about a thousand times and swooned every time. Just think long and hard about whether you’ll regret taking a brush to those stones before you do it, but as long as you’re sure you’d like them painted, just pick a color that you like and see how it looks. While it’s super hard to strip the paint and get back to the original stone, it’s easy to paint over it if you think you want something lighter or darker and sometimes the second time’s the charm. Hope it helps! Happy painting…

      xo,
      Sherry

  8. says

    I’m so glad you posted this tutorial. When we bought our last house, the previous owners had painted the brick fireplace MAGENTA – and used high-gloss latex paint! I made the mistake of trying to strip it off, which quickly ended in a gloppy mess. I finally just did a quick sanding job on the glopped areas, primed it all with Kilz, and then used Ralph Lauren’s River Rock paint. At my Dad’s suggestion, I also sprayed the interior of the fireplace with high-temperature black spray paint. The whole project turned out fantastically well, and I highly recommend taking the plunge if you have an unattractive fireplace in your home. Thanks for all the great projects & suggestions – you’re very inspiring.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Alicia,

      It’s all about what you like, what type of stone you have, and what your decorating style is. There’s definitely no hard and fast rule about what will look good (because decorating is so subjective) but if you like a light and airy look and the stone feels heavy and dark it’ll probably look amazing if it’s painted a glossy white. If you have leather sofas and like deep red and gold tones then you probably have more traditional tastes and the look of the stone without paint is something that works better with your style. Hope it helps!

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  9. says

    Hi there- I just discovered your site from the nest magazine, and I have wasted WAY too much time poking around. You have another fan! =) But anyway, your painted fireplaces look awesome. I’m considering doing the same but my husband is not for it (yet). ;) I was wondering what you’d suggest- It’s in our second living room, and is on the only whole wall in the room- one has windows, and the other two have door frames- and it takes up the WHOLE wall. The rest of the room has paneling up to the chairrail, and is currently painted two different colors (http://themcgfamily.blogspot.com/2009/03/little-more-taste-of-home.html The last three pictures show what I’m talking about). I am completely at a loss as to how to pull this room together. Paint the brick or not? Paint the walls the same color on top and bottom? Paint it the same color as the brick? Paint those wierd cutouts?! We’re looking to turn it into a sitting/reading/conversation room. We want it to be homey and comfortable. Any suggestions!?
    Thank you!
    Kristen

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Kristen,

      I checked out your living room and I definitely think that fireplace would look amazing with some white or even some rich creamy paint on it. But you definitely have to get the hubby in on the deal first. It’s something that’s pretty hard to reverse, so you certainly want his blessing. As for the walls, I would select a favorite color swatch (maybe in the neutral tan range) and paint the walls under the chair rail a color on the swatch and then go up one square and paint the walls above the chair rail that slightly lighter color. It will still be in the same color family, so they’ll really feel cohesive (the top part will just be a wee bit lighter, so it will add visual interest without being super drastic and visually cutting the room apart).

      For example, if the fireplace were to get the cream paint treatment (with your hubby’s ok), then you could paint the part of the wall under the chair rail a nice mocha tan tone and the chair rail could also go cream (along with the rest of the trim to match the fireplace) and the part of the wall above the rail could be painted a lighter sandy tan (from the same paint swatch that you got the mocha color). Hope it helps!

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  10. says

    Great suggestions! And thank you so much for the prompt response. Once the hubby gets home, I’ll show him your painted fireplace and how great it looks, and see what he thinks. :) Thank you again! I definitely like your idea!

  11. Joanie says

    HI –
    just a quick comment on the tile grout painting for floors…..
    In our last house we had inherited an off white tile with white grout – the contrast made the tile always look “dirty” vs off white – ugh!) in the kitchen/mudroom/dining room.
    I purchased a small container of porch paint ($16) and painted the grout with a small brush – I did it in sections after my kids were in bed. I choose a medium beige/sand color and wow what a difference it made to the off-white tile to look clean! it held up for the 5 yrs we lived there with two kids and two large dogs.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Joanie,

      WOW! What a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing. We’ll definitely remember to keep that tip in our back pocket for anyone with the same problem. Mucho thanks for taking the time to drop us a note!

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  12. Grace says

    Sherry,
    Love, Love your website! I’m redoing a home that has a horrible red brick fireplace flanked with paneled wood bookshelves. I plan on painting the bookshelves with “whitewash” by Devoe it’s an off/white color and I do want the fireplace to stand out slightly by was going to paint it the same color as the bookshelves. But after reading your previous posts, should I paint the fp a slightly darker color?
    grace

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Grace,

      I would actually go with your initial instinct and paint the fireplace the same color as the bookcases that flank it for a larger, more expansive, and super cohesive effect. Happy painting!

      xoxo,
      Sherry

  13. Jenny says

    Hi Sherry,

    I recently discovered your site, and very thankful I did. I will be moving into my new house in a few weeks and already have DIY projects brewing in my head. The first is a family room in which 2 walls are brick like your den. Can you give any advice/tips you discovered while painting the den? Will it basically be the same as your fireplace explanation just applied to a greater space? There is one wall that is not brick, more of an off white tone. Did you use different paint on the brick vs the other wall? Last question…what color is the paint you used? Thanks a million!

    Jenny

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jenny,

      So glad you found our site too! As for painting the den, on the paneling we actually used oil-based primer followed by two coats of flat latex paint (in Wishes by Glidden). For the brick walls we didn’t use any primer but went straight to applying two coats of latex paint (the wall to the left of the fireplace is also Wishes by Glidden and the fireplace wall is a bit deeper- Water Chestnut by Glidden- since it’s the focal wall). Hope it helps! Happy painting…

      xoxo,
      Sherry