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. Elevator_Lady says

    Thanks for posting these beautiful photos of your brick fireplaces. I’ve been wringing my hands for three years trying to decide whether to paint ours. After painting the cheap dark wood paneling a fresh mint green, painting the trim a crisp white, and installing bamboo flooring, I was hoping to leave the brick as-is. However, lightening up the rest of the room only accentuated how dark and ugly the red brick is. I’m going out to buy some paint right now! :)

  2. The Nowarks says

    Thanks for sharing your photos and tips. My husband is remodeling our 1970’s beach cabin. He put in wood flooring and stained cedar wall panels, looks great but our woodstove is an eyesore. We talked about painting the reddish/grey old brick but don’t know what color or if leaving it would keep the old cabin feel.. Everything in the little living room is wood, the floors are darker and the exposed beam cealing, but the cedar walls are lighter wood. Your help would be great! Thanks.

    • says

      I would paint it a mocha or even a chocolate color to keep that warm and cozy cabin feel. You’ll want it to have the same undertones as the wall panels & the floor but be a shade or two darker for definition. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  3. Holly says

    I love my brick, but have been wanting to paint my brass fireplace surround a more neutral color, like a rustic brown. I know I need heat resistant paint, but I’ve been having trouble finding many colors? If I prime with the heat resistant paint, can I then use any other spray paint with my desired color & it’ll be ok. Just looking for a little guidance since I noticed that yours is also painted.
    Thanks!!

    • says

      Hey Holly,

      Good question! We definitely think heat resistant primer can’t hurt, but it’s only half the battle since the paint will also be exposed to the heat so it might not hold up as well. That being said, we painted the metal hood of our fireplace in the den with regular latex paint and it’s held up perfectly (and we use that fireplace nearly every single day in the winter for the past three years). It’s always worth a try and if it doesn’t hold up you can get just strip it and get back on the hunt for heat resistant stuff (which you may be able to find online). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  4. Corrina says

    Love your rooms! Just wondering what the color of the living room walls are? I would love to paint my ugly red brick that color….I think it might match well with my huge black woodstove..the floor around it is neutral cement w/ river rock surrounded by chocolate carpeting…Thanks so much!!!

    • says

      Hey Corrina,

      The living / dining room walls are Glidden’s Sand White, assuming you’re asking about the room with the glass coffee table. If you mean the Den (which has the TV), that’s Glidden’s Wishes – with Water Chestnut on the fireplace wall. You can see all of our paint colors right on this post if you have any other paint questions!

      Hope that helps!

      -john

  5. says

    Hello,
    I love your blog and your fabulous taste!

    I have a dark brick fireplace which actually looks fine in our house– it’s a reproduction colonial and the fireplace is two-sided and in the center of our home between living room and kitchen. For me, the problem is that the glass doors on it are very dated– a sort of antiqued brass that doesn’t go with anything. We don’t have the $600 to drop on two new sets of doors, nor do I want to add to the landfill. I would like to paint the metal around the glass doors with a matte black paint for a wrought-iron look. Is there a paint that is safe to do this with?

    Kristen

    • says

      Hey Kristen,

      Yup, just visit your local hardware store to pick up a can of heat resistant spray paint (hopefully they’ll have some in the matte finish you desire). Then remove the doors, spray them outside or in another well ventilated area and scrape any paint off the glass with a straight razor for a totally finished look. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  6. Janine says

    Thanks in advance! Love your ideas! I’m in the midst of finishing a walk-out basement that has a RED wood stove situated in a corner, and its hearth is black brick. The tile floor is white. What color to paint the wall behind the stove? It’s the required concrete wall. Paint the hearth to match the wall? Keep it black? Thanks.

    • says

      Hmm, I would keep the hearth back (and be certain it’s heat resistant paint) and paint the wall a warm wheaty gold color so it feels warm and rich with the red wood stove. Try Benjamin Moore’s Oak Ridge. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  7. Amy says

    I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to paint our brick fireplace and hearth since we moved into our current house five years ago, and the lovely photos of yours have convinced me that it’s the way to go. I’m having a terrible time choosing a color, though—I don’t know if I should go with white (both built-in bookcases on either side are painted a very white white) or a shade of the yellow on the walls. (see photo here.) It’s a long room, coming off of another room that’s also yellow, so there’s a lot of yellow already, but would that much white be too much, and would I need to paint the mirror and mantle a different color so they wouldn’t get lost? I am clueless, would love to hear any thoughts.

    • says

      Hey Amy,

      You definitely won’t lose either way, so white would be safe and the entire room would look lovely and expansive while going a shade or two darker than the wall color (with the shelf remaining white and white accessories) will still tie everything together and create more of a focal wall. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      Sherry

  8. Bethany says

    Hello! L~O~V~E your site! Thank you for your wonderful ideas! My husband and I just purchased a vacation cottage, and I have been inspired beyond belief by your decorating ideas! My question is, what color did you use for the “trim” in your home? Was it the same color of white throughout, or did it change from room to room?

    Thanks!

  9. Aleene says

    On the TV show “Color Splash” they tinted the fire place
    brick which darkened the color of the brick slightly. Can
    you give me info. on how to accomplish this? I think a tint
    of color may have been used in brick sealer but am not sure.

    Thanks.

    • says

      Hey Aleene,

      Just drop in on your local hardware store and ask the paint professionals what they would recommend for tinting or staining brick. We’re sure there are many products that will work for you and they should know all about them. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  10. Laura says

    Hi Sherry-

    I just bought a great Pottery Barn candelabra off of craigslist to use in our family room/den fireplace, because my husband and I aren’t fans of burning wood fires and the mess they leave behind! Anyway, ironically I saw that you have one too in your living room. Our fireplace used to have a big, ugly cast iron wood burning stove insert, which we then sold on craiglist. Now we’re left with the empty fireplace with no doors or screen. Again, going to craigslist to get one, but they are all shiny brass. This won’t go with our modern decor at all. Your doors look brass in the before shots. What did you do to paint them? Finally, we have a brick raised hearth, mantle and then the brass doors. Would you paint them all the same color?

    Thanks!

    Laura

    • says

      Hey Laura,

      As long as you’re not going to use your fireplace often to create fiery blazes, you can just use regular old latex paint to coat the doors in two or three thin layers which should stick like glue (metal actually takes paint really well). We did that three years ago and ours are still going strong. If you will be using your fireplace more often you might want to seek out “heat resistant” spray paint (try Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace, True Value, or even online) so it’s a bit more tolerant of high-heat situations (you can remove the doors, spray them outside, scrape any overspray on the glass with a razor, and hang them back up when they’re all done). Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  11. Joan says

    I love the idea of painting a brick fireplace and will be painting ours soon. Currently our fireplace is white brick but we have light smoky white walls with the fireplace along the accent wall which is a dark grayish plum color. Any ideas on what color we should paint the fireplace? Also the hearth is a big slab of gray cement. Can we paint it using latex paint? What color would you suggest? Thanks so much!!

    • says

      Hey Joan,

      Yup cement should soak up any old latex paint really well. As for what color to paint the fireplace, you could go with a darker smoky gray, crisp white, or even a rich chocolate tone for something more moody and lodge-chic. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  12. margaret quick says

    I can’t believe anyone would want to paint their fireplace white. Ours is white and I hate it. The end of our den is the fireplace with a length wide hearth (or bench) 12″ from the floor to the top and 15 feet long. It is the most useless space I have ever seen. All it does is collect stuff. We are taking to a guy about painting it but I am not sure what color I want all I know is I hate what we have now and I don’t want to make the same mistake. Plus the biggest problem we have is there are four air vents that are a real eyesore that need to be covered. He said he would do our fireplace for $570, does that sound reasonable. Sorry to say we are not handy people. Any suggestion would be appreciated.

    • says

      Well you might not want our advice since we’re people who love a white painted fireplace (and painted both of the brick ones in our house) but we also love them in rich neutral tones like mocha, glossy chocolate, and deep gray so that’s an idea. We’re also not sure if that price you mentioned is a good price since we don’t know if that’s just his fee for painting it and covering the vents or completely refacing it. If it’s the former it seems extremely steep but if he will completely reface your fireplace it sounds about right. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  13. KathyR says

    Sherry,
    I love your house!!! Is there any way you can help me? We are hopelessly stuck in our house with the colours. And I think we need to paint the fireplace (until we figure out to do with it). We haven’t done so yet (been here 2 years), because the previous owners cleaned the brick (the house is 47 years old). and I am scared to paint. But the bricks are really ugly organgey, and there is a mahogony mantle, and the bricks go floor to ceiling. There is a dark big tile bench thingy, that is supended mid-air on the fireplace as well. The trouble is, there are far too many colours in the living room. On either side of the fireplace is mahogony wood panels (hand made, not sheets of it), the floor is a dark laminate, and the left side is a huge massive window with gold drapes. They can’t be replaced at this moment, until we replace the window to get a more efficient one, so that helps keep the heat in. We did paint the walls a sagey green, but now that has to be repainted. Just doesn’t go at all. We were thinking of a greyish colour, or a taupey colour. REally not sure.
    Would love to have your input on that, or if I can send you a photo to take a quick look at, that would be great! :) Anyhow, any suggestion on the paint colour of the fireplace? I’m ready to jump in and paint it now.
    Thanks so much for listening,
    Kathy
    PS: Sorry for being too long.

    • says

      Hey Kathy,

      We love the idea of a grayish color or a taupey color in there. It’ll temper all the warm wood tones and create a cool yet cozy vibe that feels lighter and airier than the existing orange brick. Here’s a post with all of our favorite paint colors in it so you can go through it and bring home any swatches in the taupey/grayish color categories and hold them up and see which ones look the best with the other tones in the room. In a space like that with lots of materials and colors going on, you definitely want to just bring home a lot of paint swatches and see which ones work best. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s

  14. Jen says

    Hey guys! LOVE LOVE LOVE Your site!!! Quick question…. are the shelves on your fireplaces the same color as the fireplace or different? If so, what specific colors did you use for the shlelves and fireplaces?

  15. Jen says

    Another quick question….. what color is all of your wood work (baseboards, crown molding etc)? did you paint it all or did you buy it pre painted? If you painted, what specific color is it?

    • says

      Hey Jen,

      All of our trim is Benjamin Moore’s Decorators White in semi-gloss. We love it! As for the fireplace shelves, they’re also painted in the Decorators White to work with the crisp tone on the trim and molding and baseboards. And as for the color of the fireplaces, the one in the living room is Ruffled Feathers by Glidden and the one in the den is Water Chestnut also by Glidden. Hope it helps!

      xo,
      s