Fireplace Paint: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
To use or not to use fireplace paint is a question facing many homeowners. Should you transform that red brick or dated tile fireplace by painting it, or ride out the current design trend and wait for your fireplace to come back into fashion? Whatever you decide, you might be waiting a long time for painted fireplaces to become passe.
Of course, we can’t make the decision for you, but what we can do is take you through the ins and outs of fireplace paint. We will help you understand different types of fireplace paints and the process for painting a fireplace.
We will also show you some design ideas for painted fireplaces that may tip you in a certain direction. You will see how it might look to paint your own fireplace to create a fresh and beautiful focal point for your room. In the end, this is a personal decision. Further, it is a decision that will last, so it is important that you have all the facts.
Fireplace Paint: What is it?
There is interior and exterior fireplace paint and it is different from the paint you use for sheetrock walls. The interior of the fireplace is called a firebox and it can be painted. The temperature inside the firebox can reach higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit and normal paints would chip and peel. Find a paint that handles high temperatures and is formulated for metal surfaces.
This paint comes in many shades. A flat black is a good choice as it covers any flaws and soot marks, and it goes with a variety of styles. White or off-white fireboxes have a more modern look.
Fireplace paint for the outside of the fireplace is less specific but works on textured surfaces like brick, stone, and even wood. This is a latex paint that is heat resistant at least to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a good quality paint, but it is not appropriate for the interior of the fireplace, just for the exterior. Fireplace brick or stone can be painted in flat, semi-gloss, or gloss.
Different Types of Fireplace Paints
The type of fireplace paint you get depends on the material that you are painting and the look you want to achieve.
For bricks and stone, it is best to use interior latex masonry paint that has at least a low heat resistance. Engineers designed masonry paint to work on porous and textured surfaces like brick and stone fireplaces. You can get the paints tinted in any color that you want.
If you want a more solid cover, you will need to use a primer for the first coat. This is most important if you are painting over a dark surface like a red brick fireplace. If you want less coverage, like a whitewashed look, use chalk paint or flat latex paint and water it down. This will create an aged effect. However, be aware that chalk paint is less durable than latex paint. Therefore, if you want the paint to last, it is worth adding a sealer on top of the chalk paint.
In order to paint a marble, metal, granite, or tile surround, first, find a primer that has good adhesion for hard, non-porous surfaces. Then proceed with the regular heat-resistant latex paint that is flat, semi-gloss, or gloss. You can also use chalk paint on marble or tile, but like with brick, it will not be as durable unless you use a topcoat, like polyurethane of some kind.
The Most Popular Fireplace Paint
You can buy this heat-resistant paint at most paint suppliers like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams. These groups will have valuable knowledge and advice to help you in this task. They will also have these paints at big-box DIY stores and smaller hardware stores. Some popular recommendations from Amazon are The One Paint and Primer, Giani Brick Transformations, and the Kilz 2 Interior or Exterior Water-Based Primer.
Painting the Fireplace: Pros and Cons
Painted fireplaces are hard to resist as we see them everywhere we turn. However, we want to lay out all the reasons why this decision may or may not be right for you.
- Appearance – Painting the fireplace can give the room a fresh and modern look. It is also a classic look that fits many different styles.
- Inexpensive – All it takes to make this project a reality is some paint, a few tools, and some elbow grease.
- Easy to Clean and Maintain – Painted fireplaces are easier to wipe down than natural textured surfaces.
- Semi Irreversible – Painting brick is a commitment. Once you put the paint on the surround of the fireplace, it is very difficult to remove.
- Lengthy Preparation – While it is not difficult to paint the fireplace, the time necessary to prepare the surface well can be time-consuming.
- Problems with the Masonry– Painting the fireplace can reveal certain underlying problems that exist with the fireplace. For example, if the fireplace needs to be repointed, i.e. mortar lines that need to be refreshed, they are more visible with a painted surface.
Choosing a color for your fireplace
Okay, so you have made the choice to paint your fireplace. Now, what color should you choose? Of course, this does depend on the look you want to achieve, your personal style, and the overall mood of the room. Neutral colors like dark gray or white work well in many settings.
A white brick fireplace can look traditional, classic, or modern. If white paint is too stark, try an off-white or ivory to soften the look. One way to add natural texture to the room with the fireplace masonry rather than making it a focal point, you can paint it with a lighter or darker shade than the walls of the room. Also, you can choose to use a bold color to make the fireplace stand out.
- First is the prep work. Clean the surface of the masonry by using a wire brush to loosen any particles. Make sure to brush the bricks and the mortar between the bricks. Next, vacuum the entire surface well to remove any extra dust and dirt particles that were loosened. Get a clean surface with some soapy water or use a chemical cleaner like trisodium phosphate (TSP). Use a damp cloth, damp rag, or sponge to wash down the bricks and mortar lines. It is important not to cut short this step as any loose dust or debris will flake off and cause the paint to chip or peel. If there are obvious problems with the mortar, repair them with caulk. Allow it to dry before painting.
- Next, gather your materials for painting. You will need a brush that works well on masonries like a small brush with thick bristles, painter’s tape, a drop cloth, paint roller, tray, and heat-resistant paint.
- Use the painter’s tape and drop cloth to cover any area like the floor and trim around the fireplace before you begin.
- Begin with a primer and a small paintbrush. Begin brushing over the mortar lines first. Next, apply primer to the face of the brick fireplace with a roller. Check to see if you have any missed spots. If you want a solid color on your bricks, it is worth having a nice solid primer coat. Some people prefer using a brush for the whole surface as it is easier to brush into all the crevices than to use a roller on it. This depends on your brick fireplace. Let the primer dry before you start painting.
- Last, you can begin to paint color on your bricks. Repeat the same steps as with the primer. Again, if you want a solid look, you will need to apply at least two coats of the same color to the entire fireplace. Let dry and make sure you don’t have any missed spots. If you do, go over the second coat one more time to fill in the light spots.
Painting fireplace surfaces other than brick
We know that there are other types of fireplaces than just brick fireplaces, and these are worth mentioning too. However, many of the steps for painting these fireplaces are similar and we will not go into as much detail.
Stone or Rock Fireplaces – This process is similar to the one used for brick. However, make sure that you clean the stones very well as the craggy surface can harbor more soot, dust, and dirt. Use a wire brush to loosen anything. Next, vacuum and then wash it down with soapy water, and let it dry before proceeding with the primer and paint.
Marble, Granite, or Tile Fireplaces – The important difference in this process is the prep stage. First, clean with a 50/50 mixture of water and denatured alcohol. Spray it on and then wash it down with a sponge or if the surface you are working on has a glossy surface, sand it down with light grit sandpaper. Proceed with a primer that bonds with hard surfaces and then the heat-resistant paint of your choice.
Other Tutorials for Painting a Fireplace
If you want some other ideas for painting your fireplace, check out some of these popular DIYers. They have step-by-step tutorials as well as paint recommendations for you to consider.
Craftivity Designs has wonderful pictures and a guide for transforming a brick fireplace.
The Lizzy Design Blog takes you through a process for painting a tile surround.
Painted Fireplace Ideas
Painting fireplaces is a popular option as it is quick, inexpensive, and can update any space. Both DIYers and designers love this look and we are here to show you some of the most beautiful ideas.
Gray Painted Brick
With the double mantle and the monochromatic paint color, this fireplace has a classic and elegant look. The dark fireplace with the molding taken to the ceiling provides a pleasing contrast with the ivory walls. It is interesting without being overstated.
The interior firebox and the hearth have been left the original color keeping the style more traditional than modern. Dark gray fireplaces work well in classic and modern styles.
This is a DIY from Emily Clark. She has taken the dated look of this fireplace with a granite surround and turned it into a sleek and modern fireplace. This fireplace is painted all black in order to minimize the traditional architectural detail of the wood mantle.
She emphasizes the modern style with the minimalist black iron sconces paired with the fireplace. Black fireplaces are best suited for a modern or contemporary space.
Classic White Fireplace
This is a painted brick fireplace that has a light and modern style. Because the fireplace is painted the same color as the entire wall the effect of the fireplace is minimized. Consider how the fireplace would dominate the room if it were in its natural state.
For this room design, it is the texture rather than the shape that is important. They add further texture with the large natural wood beam used as a mantle.
White painted brick is traditional and classic as well as modern and minimalist and works well with both styles.
This fireplace surround is stone rather than brick. Again, the painting of the fireplace materials minimizes the look by unifying the color. With a simple coat of paint, the style goes from traditional to modern. The minimalist black mantle completes the modern look.
Bright Colored Brick
We love the way that this fireplace turned out. It is an interesting look that is simple at the same time, both playful and sophisticated. The other colors in the room are minimal in order to not compete with the colorful statement.
Also, the designers have kept the mantle simple. They used a blue semi-gloss on the bricks and a flat black paint on the hearth. Bright-colored fireplaces are more modern and contemporary. However, they also work well with an eclectic design style.
A Painted Tile Surround
Black paint is a clever way to minimize the look of ugly tiles that you aren’t ready to remove. Other colors would work for this look, but a dark color gives the fireplaces a modern style. Cut birch logs add an interesting element to a firebox that is no longer in use.
This is another way to work with a fireplace that is not in use. Paint the bricks a fun color and use the alcove as a nook for an activity table. The painted brick fireplace gives the room an interesting architectural element that does not look out of place even if it is no longer in use. Rather the designers have integrated it into the room design with purpose.
This very dark gray or black fireplace dominates the room without even trying. It gives the room a dramatic flair but because it is dark, it is understated. The decor brings in pops of dark gray/black in the wall art, coffee table, and throws. The room looks cozy with the multiple textures, but the fireplace keeps the look sophisticated rather than casual.
Whitewashed brick fireplaces have a different aesthetic appeal than solid color fireplaces in that they look more cozy and casual. These fireplaces work the best in rustic or farmhouse design. The fireplace has a pared-down look with the rustic wooden beam used as a mantle.
There is a continuous color tone throughout the room relieved by the addition of the black sconces above the bookcases.
In order to create a fireplace look like this, use chalk paint or just watered-down flat latex paint.
Herringbone tile has an intricate design that can look elaborate; However, because this herringbone tile is painted with a flat dark gray paint it looks textured and clean rather than fussy and complicated.
In fact, the textured surface makes the overall effect more interesting than a flat surface would be.
Rustic and Elegant
This DIYer, Marian, wanted a complete makeover for her fireplace and mantle. For her, the dark wood mantle and the black shiny tiles just didn’t go with the look she was trying to achieve. She painted the room in a gorgeous blue (Farrow & Ball Oval Room Blue) and then used textured paint over the tiles around the fireplace to get a look that was closer to slate or stone. We love how she mixed the look of a rustic reading room with a more elegant style for a beautiful finished product.
This room exhibits a style called modern traditional in which modern furniture is paired with a classic or traditional space. The room walks the balance between these two styles with ease.
To give the room a more contemporary aesthetic, the entire room is painted in a dark gray with the elaborate metal fire surround painted to match.
The tone-on-tone look of the room and fireplace minimizes the fancy style of the fireplace to blend more with the contemporary decor.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Should I paint my fireplace?
This is a very personal decision. Many people who have decided to take the plunge with paint are happy that they did it as it can refresh the look of any space. However, it is a decision that is difficult to reverse. While it is possible to remove paint from the fireplace, it takes intense effort.
How do I paint a brick fireplace white?
Painting a brick fireplace white is one of the harder colors to paint brick because of the wide color difference between the dark brick and light paint color. Any light areas with less paint are very visible with white paint. Make sure to use a good primer for the first coat. Depending on the look you want, make sure to get a good solid cover with at least a first and maybe a second coat of paint.
Can you paint the inside of a fireplace?
Yes, you can paint the inside of the fireplace. Make sure to use high-temperature paint that is formulated for metal and/or the interior of fireboxes.
How can I remove paint from a brick fireplace?
The best way to remove paint from brick is with a chemical paint stripper and a wire brush. First, cover the floor and surrounding wall with paper for plastic. Next, put on safety goggles and apply a coat of the stripper with a paint brush. Then, let it sit for the time specified on the product. Begin working with the brush to remove the paint color. As paint is difficult to remove from brick, you will need to apply more coats of the stripper and keep working with the brush to remove the paint color.
What color should I paint my brick fireplace?
The color you pick depends on the look you want in the end. If you want a contemporary style fireplace, use black, white, or bright colored paint. For a more traditional look, try ivory, gray, or even a dark blue paint color.
What sheen should I paint a brick fireplace?
The sheen you choose depends on the style of the fireplace and how much use it gets. High gloss paint works well because it is easier to clean and it is durable. However, flat paint looks contemporary and can look rustic. These paints are not as durable. A semi-gloss is a good middle ground if you aren’t sure where to start.
How should I paint a brass fireplace?
For a brass fireplace surround, use a high-temperature primer for slick surfaces and metal paint.
What is the best way to paint fireplace doors?
Fireplace doors can be painted. However, just like the firebox, the doors get very hot and need specialized paint. Also, you need to cover the doors before you paint so the paint does not mar the glass.
What are the best brands of fireplace paint?
It is important to go with a brand you trust like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams when you are choosing fireplace paint. These brands can be more expensive, but they are reliable and have good coverage. However, there are also other brands that work well. Read as many reviews of all the types of paint as you can before you begin your project.
Choosing to paint your fireplace can be a difficult decision as it is not easy to return the fireplace to its native state. However, a painted fireplace works well with many styles and is the perfect way to refresh the fireplace without a major monetary investment. Consider all the options before beginning this project. Talk to people who have done it both online and in person. Ask their honest opinion on whether they wish they had made a different choice. In the end, more information can help you to make the best decision for yourself.