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How To Paint a Brick Fireplace


A painted brick fireplace in a modern living room.
Suzanne Dhinoy

Brick fireplaces are great, but they often look dated, dark, and dirty. Instead of living with that drab, sooty look, learn how to paint a brick fireplace to give your space some fresh new style.

When it comes to fireplaces, brick is overwhelmingly the most popular material choice for the surrounding wall. It’s affordable, and its non-flammable properties make it a practical option. But, as brick ages, it deteriorates, loses its color, and captures dirt and grime. Give yours a fresh new look by learning how to paint a brick fireplace.

Learning how to paint a brick fireplace isn’t hard, but it does require certain tools and materials.

Tools for Painting a Brick Fireplace

Wire brushesWet-dry vacuumSpongeRespiratorRubber glovesSafety glasses3 or 5-gallon bucket
2-inch paintbrush (angled and stiff is best for this application)Paint rollerTwo ¾-inch nap roller coversPaint trayPaint tray linerLadder (for taller fireplaces)Materials for Painting a Brick FireplaceTrisodium phosphate cleanerPainter’s tapeDrop clothsBrick primer and sealerAcrylic latex paintNote: White is the most popular color for painting brick fireplaces, but the following steps are applicable for any color.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace

Painting a brick fireplace shouldn’t take all day, but there is a certain order to follow to achieve the perfect painted brick fireplace look. The following steps will take you from preparation to the finished product.

1. Clean the fireplace

Even well-kept fireplaces are too dirty to paint, so a bit of preparation and cleaning is in order. Start by removing the fireplace surround, if there is one; this usually just requires loosening a few screws on the inside of the surround.

With the surround removed and all the brick exposed, take a wire brush and give the bricks and mortar joints a light scrubbing. This will loosen any debris, chunks of dirt, and loose mortar that would affect the paint job. Use a wet-dry vacuum to clean up the dust.

With the dust removed, it’s time to clean the surface to remove soot, chemicals, oils, and anything else that could be on the brick. Put on some rubber gloves, a respirator, and a pair of safety glasses and mix a solution of trisodium phosphate according to the directions. Use the bucket and sponge to scrub the brick.

2. Prepare the fireplace for paint

After all the loose debris, soot, and grime are removed, give the fireplace a few hours to dry. In the meantime, use tape and drop cloths to protect the wall, hearth, mantle, and any other surfaces you don’t want to paint. Take your time with this step, as the brick has to dry anyway and the more effort you put in now, the less cleanup you’ll have to do later.

3. Seal the brick and mortar

Before painting a brick fireplace, the porous surfaces in the mortar and brick need sealing. Using a product specially designed for sealing masonry will ensure that these pores don’t absorb the paint, requiring fewer coats and ending with a better result. And the sealer will prevent stains and create a uniform basecoat for a clean finish—particularly important if your color of choice is white.

Place a tray liner into the paint tray and pour about ¼ gallon into the tray. Use the paintbrush to work the sealer into the mortar, pushing it into any cracks and crevices with the bristles. Use the paint roller and the ¾-inch nap cover to coat the brick with the sealer. The thick nap should cover the brick quickly while getting plenty of sealer into all the nooks and crannies. If necessary, apply a second coat.

4. Paint the brick fireplace

Since you took the time to prime and seal it, painting the brick fireplace is fairly straightforward. While the sealer is drying, wash the paintbrush with soap and water. Also, change the liner in the paint tray, and swap a fresh roller sleeve on the paint roller.

Pour about ¼ gallon of acrylic latex paint into the paint tray, then use the brush to work the paint into the mortar joints, following up with the paint roller. Just go slower in this step than you did with the sealer, as it’s easy to miss a spot if you’re using white or light paint over the light sealer.

Repeat this step as many times as necessary until you’re happy with the coverage. Once the paint is dry, resecure the fireplace surround.

Maintaining a White Painted Brick Fireplace

While the main purpose of painting a brick fireplace white is to brighten a dark, dingy element within a home, easier maintenance is a secondary benefit. Warm water, a non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner, and a sponge are all it takes to keep a white-painted brick fireplace looking fresh and clean.

And, with the work behind you, it’s time to enjoy a fresh, clean, brighter space. Choose new decor items, house plants, and other touches to accent the painted brick fireplace for a totally new feel.

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