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Q&A: How to Paint a Brick Fireplace?

Kathy's Remodeling Blog

Question: I have hated my brick fireplace since day one of living in my otherwise-fabulous home. I have considered removing the brick altogether and creating a brand-new one by placing stucco over it with a mantle, or painting the brick white and adding a rich, dark wooden mantle on top. Actually, a Williams-Sonoma home store was my inspiration; it has the same painted white fireplace. It seems to be the most cost-effective. Do you recommend painting a brick fireplace white? How would you do this? What kind of paint? Some say oil, other say latex. Just curious to hear your thoughts. — Brianna

Answer: Brianna, I also like the look of a painted-brick fireplace. In fact, I wish I had brick on my fireplace instead of my big faux lava rocks that aren’t so easily transformed with paint or plaster.

I asked the advice of Dan Gallagher of Gallagher’s Decorative Painting & Design in Sierra Madre. Dan’s a decorative and home painter who has been featured in this blog.

Dan says:

All your ideas are good and doable. If a painted look is the course of action (either decorative or straight paint), the most important thing is that oil-base primer should be used, at least two coats. It’s best that the oil-base primer is a long-drying for maximum strength. Your usage of the fireplace should help to determine the type of paint — oil-base or water-base — for the finish. If the fireplace is used a lot, go with an oil-base paint. For low usage, like two or three times a year, go with water-base paint. Mark the can and store it for touch-ups in the future. Remember, removing paint from brick and mortar can be done, but it is extremely expensive.

If you were to go with a stucco or masonry-type finish, you might consider adding a relief design. It will add interest and personalize it to your home and decor.

For more insights, Dan can be reached at his website.

(Photo: Sunset)

1 Comment on Q&A: How to Paint a Brick Fireplace?

  1. Before painting brick, an additional step that I take is to degrease the surface with detergent and water. Then, I scrub the surface with a mixture of one part muriatic acid to three parts water (wearing rubber gloves). This is to remove and neutralize alkaline material in the mortar joints. Finally, I rinse the surface with clear water.

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