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. FRM says

    Can I ask what you did with the hearth in the living room? Did you paint that too, or replace it with something? I’m moving into a house with a painted fireplace that has a hearth just like the original one on your living-room fireplace, and I’d like to do something to better integrate it with the white fireplace/mantle. Would appreciate any tips you have for that!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey FRM,

      Very timely comment indeed! This afternoon’s post actually talks about it a bit more, but our fireplace hearth is just painted with regular latex paint to match the fireplace brick (it was made up of these gross shattered terra cotta tiles) and then coated with about ten very thin coats of water-based polyurethane so that it holds up pretty well to foot traffic. It’s definitely more of a quick fix than a long tern solution (although it has lasted almost three years), but we’re hoping to retile it with something fun in the near future!

      xo,
      Sherry

  2. Renee says

    Hello Sherry,

    I am wondering if you painted those dark brown tiles below your fireplace, too? Or you re-tiled that area? I have the same brown old tiles with my fireplace and I am wondering if that’s a good idea to paint them with a different color…?

    Thanks! Love your living room!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Renee,

      We actually did just paint the terrible dark hearth tiles while we had the fireplace paint out. Then we covered them with about a million thin coats of water-based polyurethane to create a slightly more durable surface. Of course this would never work with bathroom tile or any surface that is high-traffic, but since most people don’t walk on the fireplace hearth (except for Burger who’s only 8lbs) it has held up pretty well over the last three years. It’s certainly not the “proper” way to deal with tile (or a long-term solution) but it has tided us over until we can replace them with something white and lovely (like river rocks or marble or even glass mosaic tiles). Can’t wait for that!

      xo,
      Sherry

  3. cathy says

    good evening. i love what you have done with your home. i am interested in the fireplace. you have inspired me to paint mine. with that said, i do have a question. are your fireplaces working or not working? i was advised at lowe’s i would need to use heat resistant paint if i use the fireplace. my husband and i want to convert our fireplace to gas logs. thank you for your assistance. please advise.

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Cathy,

      Our painted fireplace in the den is a gas log fireplace and we use it literally every day in the winter and the regular latex paint has held up perfectly. If you’re painting the firebox (the inside of the fireplace) using heat resistant paint is definitely advised, but we’ve had no problems with our regular latex paint on the brick surround. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  4. McKenzie says

    Hi,

    We currently live in an apartment with a hideous fireplace-dark wood mantel with brown and flower tiles. Is there any way to cover a fireplace temporarily? We would love to paint it white, however, I’m not so sure the landlord would go for this. Any ideas you have would be great!!

    Thank you.
    McKenzie

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey McKenzie,

      Your best bet is to get a piece of plywood and cut it to cover those tiles and paint it white for a crisp little temporary paint makeover (since you can’t do anything too permanent and scare the landlord). Adding lots of lighter accents on top of the dark wood mantel (a large white framed mirror, white vases, etc) will also lighten things up in a flash. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  5. Megan says

    Hi!!! LOVE your blog and I keep referring back to it lately as I am choosing paint colors for our new-to-us old house. I looked at your paint color/furnishings tour and wasn’t totally clear on what color(s) you actually painted the brick fireplaces. I want to paint ours but not sure if I should do it a plain white or a cream (this room will have a light beige on the walls). Thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Megan,

      The brick fireplace wall in the den is Glidden’s Water Chestnut while the brick fireplace in the living room is Glidden’s Ruffled Feathers (which is no longer available in a swatch but can be looked up on the computer by the Home Depot guys). It’s basically a very soft gray so the white mantel and mirror pop a bit. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  6. Bridget says

    Hi, i love how you have transformed your fire place. We’ve been in our 1950s beach shack 12 months now and the fire place is still looking pretty offensive. I’ve wanted to paint it white all along, my only reluctance being that there is an ugly old gas heater in the fire place which might look all the more prominent against a white backdrop. The heater is fully functioning so we can’t remove it/cover it up. Any tips?? thanks for your help.

    • says

      Hey Bridget,

      Hmm, can you spray the gas heater with heat-resistant spray paint to make it blend in? Of course you should check with an expert or call someone before taking the project on to ensure that you won’t hurt the heater, but people spray paint the inside of their fireboxes and their radiators with heat-resistant spray paint all the time and it can really help them blend in. You could spray your whole firebox/gas heater black so it will just appear to be in shadow and paint the fireplace white and even snag a little fireplace screen to further obscure the gas heater. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  7. Wanita Rylander says

    I am going to paint the fireplace and the hearth has old brick on it that doesn’t match. I am planning on taking that out. The fireplace is wood burning but I want to convert it to a gas. There is a gas line right next to the fireplace how hard would it be for a plumber to move the gas line into the fire box and place a fake wood burning gas heater inside.

    • says

      Hey Wanita,

      Unfortunately we have no experience moving a gas line into a firebox but we would guess that it will probably run you a few hundred dollars. Definitely get a few different estimates to hunt down the best deal- and of course go with someone licensed and insured to keep things safe!

      xo,
      s

  8. Missye says

    Our brick fireplace is already painted white but looks horrible. I would like for it to be crisp and white but not sure how to proceed. Should I just paint over the existing paint or should I try to remove it? Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Missye,

      I would definitely paint right over the existing paint as long as it’s not cracked or peeling. If it is, sand it a bit and them prime with oil-based primer and then apply two coats of latex paint. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  9. Sam says

    I have dark (mahogony) trim in my house and kind of maroon paint. The fireplace is central and we would like to paint it. Any Suggestions on how to achieve a lighter look such as color choice?

    Thanks in advance,

    Kristine and Sam

    • says

      How about a light sandy tan or even a warm caramel color? Layered with the dark trim and maroon paint it will feel airier without sticking out too much like stark white paint would. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

    • says

      It’s Wishes by Glidden which unfortunately has been discontinued but if you ask for it by name the people at the counter (at Home Depot) can pull up the formula on thier computer and whip some up for you. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  10. Laura Chapuis says

    Hi, your house looks wonderful. After showing my husband your before and after fireplace, I think I may finally have convinced him we need to paint ours white as well. I wondered if you had any trouble keeping it clean? With all the crevices between the brick, does the white show dirt much more than the brick?

    Thanks!

    Laura

    • says

      Hey Laura,

      It’s been three years since we painted our fireplaces and we’ve not once had to scrub them down to brighten them up- they’re zero maintenance! Oh and the cracks between the brick are just as clean as the day they were coated with paint. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  11. Katie says

    Hey! love, love, love the fireplace! We have a free standing fireplace that separates the living room and dining room and I think I’m finally brave enough to paint it. I love what yall did on top of the brick on the one fireplace…will you let us in on your secret to that look? Kinda looks like wooden slats?
    Thanks!

  12. Jennifer says

    My husband and I are getting ready to paint our fireplace and wonder if you’d mind sharing the colors you used for the walls and fireplace. We like the combo.
    Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!
    sincerely,
    Jennifer

    • says

      Hey Katie, if you’re referring to the fireplace in the living room, that’s actually just how the brick was laid (we didn’t add anything except paint). Instead of the traditional, offset “running” pattern our brick was laid on top of one another with wide deep-set grout lines for a very even, linear and modern look.

      And Jennifer, the living room walls are Sand White and the brick is Ruffled Feathers (a light gray so white objects will contrast against it). In the den, the fireplace wall is Water Chestnut and the other walls are Wishes. All color are Glidden and you can check out a full breakdown of our home’s paint scheme here under the FAQ tab above if you’re wondering about colors anywhere else.

      Hope that helps!

      -John

  13. Jen says

    I love the fireplaces in your home. The entire back of our home is one long, narrow space with a kitchen, open to the eat in/dining area and then open to a family room. They all are the exact same width with no dividing walls, and the effect is very tunnel-like. The end wall in the family room is entirely covered in brick, with a heavy dark wood mantle and a brick fireplace. If we painted the brick a creamy color, would it make the tunnel effect even worse? All walls are a creamy color with a slight yellow tint (Sherwin Williams Crisp Linen), and white trim. Thanks for your input. I love your decorating style.

    • says

      We would definitely paint them for a much more open and expansive look. But it’s your call in the end, you gotta love the idea to take the chance. Good luck!

      xo,
      s

  14. darlene says

    hi … i’m going to paint our brick fireplace a light cream/white-ish (it’s the same color as the ceiling and trim) to go with the light green walls … my question is that our fireplace is a working fireplace with a wood stove insert — we use it daily (and nightly) throughout the fall, winter and spring … do i need a special type heat-resistant paint?

    thanks so much ….

    • says

      You shouldn’t need any special paint for your fireplace brick, but if you’re planning to paint the doors or any sort if metal surround we recommend high heat spray paint (just remove them, spray, and put them back on). Hope it heps!

      xo,
      s