Painting a brick fireplace white may seem like a daunting task but it actually turned out to be extremely easy. With the right type of paint, you can paint your fireplace so that it lasts for years without a single chip.
After painting what felt like every inch of our house including all the trim and doors and seeing what a difference it made, I was convinced painting our brick fireplace would be transformational.
Here I share with you everything from how to paint fireplace brick white, what sheen to pick, what other colors you could pick and how to clean it before painting. I also include before and after pictures along with many pictures of the process.
Painting a Brick Fireplace: The Before Picture
Here is our fireplace. It is a brick fireplace with a wood mantel and brass fireplace doors. With the other updates we were doing around the house, I wanted to also modernize the fireplace. And I hated the brick color.
Why paint a brick fireplace?
If your fireplace is very dark and you don’t get a lot of natural light, then painting it could really brighten up the space. When you consider colors for your home, you need to know the lighter the color, the more it reflects. So white reflects 100% of light and black absorbs 100% of light. Therefore, a dark brick fireplace is going to absorb light, making the space feel darker.
Another reason to paint a brick fireplace is if you personally don’t like how the brick looks. I like brick but I did not like ours at all. I hated the random black and half white bricks. Also, if you look closely, then you will see the red brick has these weird circles and ovals on them.
What color to paint a brick fireplace?
You can paint your fireplace any color you want. Just make sure you are using a paint that will stick to brick.
When considering a color, I would consider the overall look you are going for and the amount of natural light in a room. I have seen black fireplaces, but you need a LOT of natural light or that will make the room feel extremely dark. Since our fireplace room lacks a good amount of natural light, we went with white.
I would say that white is the most common color to paint brick. Another popular choice is to do grey or whitewash. Whitewash means you dilute the white paint with water and coat the brick using a rag not a paint brush. There are also whitewash kits you can buy.
What sheen to paint a brick fireplace?
I think the two most popular choices here are either matte or satin. I chose satin because it is easier to clean. I also just like the little shine that isn’t too much. Really it is a personal preference.
The Fireplace Makeover Supplies:
Since we painted the brick, mantel, and the fireplace doors, I have broken the supplies list into sections. I also have a section for the cleaning supplies you will need.
- Cleaning Bucket
- Cleaning Brush
Paint Supplies to Paint the Brick:
- Paint Brush
- Small Paint Roller
- Paint Roller Tray
- Painter’s Tape
Paint Supplies to Paint the Fireplace Doors:
- Heat Resistant Spray Paint
- Painter Tape
- A spot to spray
Paint Supplies to Paint the Fireplace Mantel:
- Primer Spray Paint
- Paint Spray Paint
- A spot to spray
Fireplace Makeover Steps
Here I will share with you all the detail on what I did to clean and paint our brick fireplace, the fireplace doors, and the fireplace mantel. The whole process took me one weekend.
Step 1: How to Clean A Brick Fireplace Before Painting
Remove fireplace doors, mantel (if necessary), and anything inside the fireplace.
To start, remove the fireplace doors. The fireplace doors usually are screwed in from the inside, so it is a little annoying.
You don’t have to remove the mantel since you can just paint around it. Depending on how it is attached, it might not be easy to remove. We removed the mantel because it was in bad condition and needed to be more securely attached. The mantel should pop off with upward pressure. You can use a mallet to help loosen it.
The last step was to remove the ashes, fireplace stand and logs. I just grabbed a shovel and bucket to collect most of it. Once I was done, I used a vacuum to get the rest.
Wash the brick.
Like with most painting projects, the prep work is harder than the actual painting. I would say this was the most tiring part just because it was a lot of scrubbing. To wash the brick. I found I had the best luck with water, a brush, and a LOT of elbow grease.
- First, I dry brushed the brick to remove loose soot.
- I then vacuumed the brick.
- Next, I used water to scrub the brick.
- After that, I vacuumed again.
Important Tip: I would avoid vinegar or anything acidic on your brick since it can damage it. If the water doesn’t work, then next try soap and water. If that doesn’t work, then use either Kurd Kutter or Brick Anew.
It is very important to remove all of the soot off the bricks you will paint. It will show through the paint turning it yellow. The only places I didn’t worry about are what would be inside the fireplace and what would be covered by the fireplace doors.
Lastly, make sure your brick is completely dry before painting. Once your fireplace is clean, you are ready to paint. I taped off the floor and the walls with painter tape.
Step 2: How to Paint a Fireplace
Next, I bought the fireplace paint. I used the Home Depot Behr Masonry, Stucco and Brick Paint. It can be used inside and outside, self-primes and lasts.
I have used almost every big brand of paint out there. Most paint brands have their own brick paint but, honestly, this paint worked well and was well priced. It had amazing reviews. The big difference between a paint you would use for a wall and the brick paint is that it is a lot thicker.
Now you are finally ready to paint. Since brick is so bumpy you don’t need to worry about brush strokes. They completely disappear once the paint is dry. I kept reading that I needed to paint the grout first and then the brick, but it didn’t matter. You literally can’t go wrong here. Just paint.
Painting Tip: I would swirl my brush to get into all the holes. I also used the roller but found the brush to be more effective at getting complete coverage. I say try both and find what works for you.
Here is the first coat, which looks more like what you get when you whitewash. As you can see, the black bricks still show. Additionally, the soot on the brick at the top of the fireplace opening turned the white paint a little yellow. I didn’t mind because I knew it would be covered by the fireplace doors. I am mainly pointing it out to show you what will happen if you don’t get rid of all the soot before painting.
Here is the second coat. I gave the first coat one night to fully dry before doing this coat. After this coat, I touched up a few bricks that still looked dark to me.
Step 3: How to Paint the Fireplace Doors:
The next step in our fireplace makeover was to paint the fireplace doors. After browsing the paint aisles of Home Depot, I found this awesome heat resistant paint product: Rust-oleum High Heat Spray Paint. It worked beautifully.
As you can see, I taped the glass doors and then sprayed it. I did two coats and cannot say enough on just how beautiful it came out.
After that we reattached the fireplace doors. You can see in the picture what I mean by the fireplace doors covering the section that turned yellow because of the soot. My toddler was a big fan of the new fireplace.
Step 4: How to Paint the Mantel
Our last step was to paint the mantel. If the mantel was in good condition, then I probably would have left it as wood. I think the wood with the white and black is a nice pairing. However, that was not the case for us, so we painted it.
We decided to just go with white because we wanted to match the doors and trim in our house. However, you could go with black here or really any other color you want such as grey.
If you are able to remove the mantel, then you can do what we did and spray paint it. I used the Zinsser 123 Plus Primer Spray Paint and the Rust-oleum Paint and Prime in White Semi-Gloss. If your mantel has a finish on it, then you really need to use a primer like Zinsser that will stick to glossy surfaces.
If you cannot remove the mantel, then use paint (I like the Marquee line at Home Depot) and brush. You can also get the Zinsser 123 Plus Primer in a can as well as spray, which is the most important detail to avoid paint chipping and peeling.
Painting your Brick Fireplace: The After Picture
After that, all there is left is to sit back and enjoy your new fireplace. Here is our new fireplace. I decorated the top with a string of lights and plants. The white paint has added so much brightness to the room. My only regret is that I didn’t do this project sooner since it was so easy and transformational.