How to Paint a Brick Fireplace

By HomeAdvisor

Updated November 21, 2017

Painted white fireplace in living room

Painting your fireplace can be a fun weekend project to give your room a quick makeover. Dark red and brown brick can make one side of the room look heavy, while clean white fireplaces or dramatic blacks and greys can instantly modernize your living room. Follow these simple steps to make this noticeable upgrade.

Prep to Paint

Before you begin this project it is important to prepare the space for painting. Brick can collect dust and dirt and requires cleaning with a mild soap and water. If the surface is dirty, paint will not adhere properly and the result will not be a clean coat.

  1. Inspect your fireplace to ensure that it is actually brick. Paint may not properly adhere to limestone, sandstone, or river rock.
  2. Remove decorations and furniture in the area surrounding the fireplace. Then, you will want to take a wire scrub brush dipped in tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) to clean the brick. This will remove any dust or residue from soot in and around your fireplace. Allow it to dry completely before moving on.
  3. Clean the inside with some elbow grease. All ashes and wood must be removed prior to cleaning the surface. Scrub the area with a wire scrub brush and TSP repeatedly, wiping down with a dry cloth each time. Use a clean wet cloth to remove any residual TSP from the area. Allow it to dry.
  4. Protect the area by taping off anything nearby that you do not want painted. This includes taping the edge where brick meets your floor and walls, the mantle, and any glass surfaces your fireplace may have. Putting a drop cloth down is essential while working with paint.

Painting the Outside of the Fireplace

Now that you’ve prepped the brick, it’s time to pick the color, prime and paint the face of the fireplace. This is the large surface area, from where the masonry meets the wall or ceiling to the body of the hearth.

Carefully consider the color that you want to use. Whether, you choose dramatic neutrals like white, gray or black or a statement color that complements your living room’s décor, it will make a big impact on your space.

  1. Prime using an oil-based primer that is rated for stain-blocking. A stain-blocking primer will help maintain the preferred color as soot accumulates. A primer will also prevent the color of the brick from showing through the paint. Do not move onto the next step until the primer is completely dry.
  2. Paint with a latex paint that is rated to withstand 200-degree temperatures or higher. For homeowners without airbrushing equipment, you will need a long-nap roller and a brush to get into the grooves of the mortar and around edges. Pressing firmly on the roller will allow you to get into the texture of the brick.
    • NOTE: If you want the outside to match the visible walls inside the fireplace, make sure that the type of paint you use is either heat resistant up to 1500 degrees or is also available in that higher heat-rated formula.

Painting the Inside of the Fireplace

Painting the inside of your fireplace requires a specialty paint that is specifically rated to withstand temperatures up to 1500 degrees. Even heat resistant paint may begin to flake after about a year of repeated use. Apply one coat, and allow 24 hours to dry before adding another coat.


Limewashed old looking brick wall
Limewash is an alternative option for homeowners who don’t want to completely cover the natural beauty of the original masonry. It just adds a thin coat of bright white and is often applied sporadically. Lime wash can also be tinted to any color you prefer. However, limewash is not recommended for the inside of a fireplace.

To make limewash, mix together water, hydrated masonry lime and table salt:

  1. Mix hydrated masonry lime with regular table salt. The amount required may vary based on the size of your fireplace and the amount of coats. Your mixture should be 5 parts lime and 1 part salt. Add water until it reaches the consistency of pancake batter.
  2. Apply the first coat of limewash with a roller or brush to cover the brick. To get a weathered look, apply the in varying thicknesses. Let it dry for 24 hours.
  3. Wipe off some of the limewash with a wet cloth with varying pressures in sporadic areas. This will create the appearance of naturally-weathered, whitewashed brick.

Now, it’s time to remove all the protective covers and put your furniture and decor back around the fireplace and mantle. This is one project your guests are sure to notice and one that will enhance the design and feel of your living room.

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