Painting Brick Fireplace

This is the first in a five part series on renovating our living room:

1. Faux painting brick over a previously painted white brick fireplace (this post)
2. Lightening up a room in 5 steps
3. Painting decorative graphics on a wall
4. Preparing to Install Antique Heart Pine Floors (and living to tell about it!)
5. Installing Heart Pine Floors and the Final Reveal

I know the trend lately is to paint fireplace brick white. Especially if the brick is an ugly bright red or some other ugly color. I’m pretty sure that is why our fireplace was painted in the first place.

Painting Brick Fireplace
Before Shot

Painting Brick Fireplace

But, the fact that our fireplace, mantle and the built-in bookshelves on both sides of our fireplace are white, made for an overwhelming amount of white on that one wall. I thought about painting the mantle, but only briefly. I really wanted the warmth and contrast of bricks to set off all the white in our living room.

I stumbled across a few websites showing painted brick here and here. Then I thought, “If someone can do it, then there is a 95% chance that I can do it too!”

I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but in the end I am amazed by how real it looks. And, how easy it was to do! The true test came when I fooled the builder of our house (he has lived on our street for over 30 years) into thinking I had stripped the paint off the bricks! Sweet success.

This is a relatively easy project. It took several hours, but can be done in sections.

Painting Brick Fireplace Materials Needed:

TSP cleaner
Scrub brush for use with TSP cleaner
Drop cloth
Newspapers
Painters Tape
Paint Roller and Tray
Stiff 2″ paint brush
Car wash sponge or large 6″ x 3″ sized sponge
Spray bottle with water
7 paper plates
Rags for clean Up
Acrylic Paint (see below for colors)

Before you do anything, buy some TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) cleaner at the hardware store and follow the directions to clean your brick. Be forewarned that you may actually like the color of your bricks once they are clean and dry! If you still hate the color, proceed…

After working up a test board by playing with several color combinations, I chose a warm brown brick color. I also tweaked my mortar color before painting it on my fireplace.

Painting Brick Fireplace

I covered the mantle and bookcases by taping newspapers to them. Then, covered the floor with a drop cloth.

I mixed up a small container of my mortar color. I used some leftover latex satin taupe paint from our other house and added some black and a little dark brown to achieve the perfect mortar color.

My color looks like this warm gray cement color:

Painting Brick Fireplace

I painted all the mortar areas between the bricks with a 2″ paint brush.

Painting Brick Fireplace

As the mortar color dried, I mixed up a bucket of my base color for the bricks. Then poured it into a paint tray.

Painting Brick Fireplace

Then, I laid out my seven paper plates and filled the first one with a deep chocolate oops paint (Valspar Latex Eggshell Chestnut).

And poured a half dollar size of the following colors onto the other plates (one color per plate).

Painting Brick Fireplace

I used a paint roller to roll the base color onto small 3′ x 3′ sections of my fireplace. (Don’t worry if the paint doesn’t soak into all the grooves. Some of the white showing through made my bricks look old and rustic.)

While the base color was still wet, I covered my sponge with the Chestnut color. Then dipped the sponge into one or two of the brick tint colors. I sponged one brick at a time using the same color tints sporadically around the wall. Keeping the brick colors varied and random make them look real!

Painting Brick Fireplace

When the sponge needed to be reloaded with paint, I began with the chestnut color first, then added one or two new color tints to the sponge. You will have to refill the paper plates as you use up the paint.

I kept working in small sections, to be able to work while the base color was still wet (use the spray bottle of water to lightly wet the bricks if it dries too quick).

Painting Brick Fireplace

The best part was that if I didn’t like a color, I could go back over it and try a different tint. Notice how I randomly dispersed the darker brown bricks. This is key to having a realistic look.

Painting Brick Fireplace

On the hearth I had to press more gently with the sponge since the mortar lines on our hearth were almost level with the bricks. I kept a wet rag near by to wipe up any wandering brick paint.

Painting Brick Fireplace
Close up picture of the bricks.
Notice how the white specks showing through really make the bricks
look like they are re-claimed and rustic.
Painting Brick Fireplace
After Picture
Painting Brick Fireplace
Daylight picture after decorated for the holidays.
I can’t believe what a huge difference painting the bricks made in our living room. It warmed up the space and actually made our fireplace recede into the room. Let’s take one more look at the before and after:
Painting Brick Fireplace
Side note: The latex and acrylic paint has held up great (even after several fires using our gas logs.)  If you need to paint the bricks inside the firebox, you will need to use paint that is heat tolerant.

And for those wondering how long this took. Including the prep work (cleaning, taping, mixing colors) it took about 5 hours total. Not too bad since I’m a night owl and could watch DIY network while painting!

Be careful not to put anything heavy on the hearth for a few weeks while the paint hardens.

Next up in the series: 5 Ways to Lighten up a Dark Room. 
Followed by: Painting Decorative Graphics on Your Wall.
And I saved the best for last (coming soon): Installing Antique Reclaimed Heart Pine Flooring

138 replies
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  1. Darcy
    Darcy says:

    Wow! You did such an amazing job! You give me hope for improvement on my hideous white brick fireplace. My brick has a lot more texture than yours, with deep grooves in the bricks themselves. Any good advice for working with highly textured brick?

    Reply
  2. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    Just followed your directions to paint some stucco faux brick on the front of our house, and it came out amazing. Thank you for posting such a great helpful tutorial! Yours was the only one I found that created the look I was going for. . . .

    Reply
  3. Melissa Nolan
    Melissa Nolan says:

    Whoa!! I am amazed! When I first saw the after pic, I thought, how did she scrape off all that white paint? My jaw is still on the ground. 🙂 It looks so, so real. Great job!

    Reply
  4. password protect
    password protect says:

    Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been tto this wweb site
    before bbut after going through a few of the posts
    I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it annd I’ll
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  5. Alyssa Anderson
    Alyssa Anderson says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial! Can’t wait to try it on my brick accents on my house. Currently bright barn red which doesn’t go with anything! I’ll have to use exterior paint, of course, though.

    I wanted to ask you, though – what sheen of paint did you use?

    Reply
  6. Michele
    Michele says:

    This is so impressive. Absolutely beautiful painting technique. My fireplace is very similar to yours but is covered in bricks that are various shades of gray. I love them, but so many people think they should be painted white……I have no idea why, especially since I have white built-ins on either side and a white mantel. If the brick color is beautiful, why cover it up in such a glaring, unnatural way?

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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