A fireplace is often the focal point of a living room. It draws our focus visually and even physically when a warm fire is burning. The fireplace has the power to set the tone of the whole room! This can be one of the biggest obstacles though, when we are repainting or remodeling our home. Do we choose a color we like even if it doesn’t match the fireplace? Do we choose a color that matches the fireplace even though we don’t like it? Dare we paint it?!? Below, I will share 5 different methods that can bring new life to your brick or stone fireplace!
The 1st thing you will need to do regardless of the method you choose, will be to prepare the surface of your fireplace. If you need to repair any mortar, now would be the logical time to do so. 😉 Then it is time to clean! Use warm water with a little bit of soap (you can use dawn or tsp etc) and a nylon scrub brush to really get into the grout and texture of your stone or brick. Rinse and allow surface to fully dry. When this is done you will need to mask off areas where you do not want paint; such as mantle shelves, wood stove, walls, and floors. Finish prepping by laying down a canvas drop cloth beneath your materials where you will be walking and working.
1. White-Wash or Gray Wash Stone or Brick Fireplace
This is probably the most “known” way people refinish their fireplaces. It is relatively simple, cheap, and easy to control the outcome! Two common paint choices for this are chalk paint and latex paint. Of the two; I recommend latex. Chalk paint tends to cost more and requires a wax top coat to protect the finish. It looks a little more like natural stone, but a matte or even glossy latex will be very similar in sheen once it has been diluted. White-washing kind of paved the way for DIY-ers to remodel their fireplaces at a low cost. The looks can vary greatly, so you really just have to be sure that you are creating the look you’re aiming for as you go!
Here is a helpful video!
Materials: Latex Paint, Plastic Mixing Bucket, Stir Stick, Paint Brush, Rag, Painter’s Tape, Drop Cloth
- Use a plastic container to mix equal parts paint and water. Start with about a cup of each, as this will cover a large area. Stir this well. *If you want a very subtle white-wash (lots of brick showing through); try mixing 75% water with 25% paint. This will be very runny. That is ok. Test your mixture in an inconspicuous place to be sure you are satisfied. If you want more coverage, add more paint. If you want more transparency, add more water. You can practice applying paint with brushes, sponges, or rags to decide what looks best to you.
- Begin at the top. Use whichever application tool you prefer in one hand to apply your paint wash, and a blotting rag in the other hand to blot off excess paint and catch runs. You want to work about 2 or 3 bricks at a time so you can blot off runs before they get away from you and dab or wipe off paint to give it that “washed” look.
- In most cases, your fireplace brick will have a little color variation that will show through your whitewash. If your fireplace is very monotone and you would like more variation; here are two options! First, you could go back for a second coat of white-wash on just some bricks in no specific pattern. A second way is to use a second color mixed into a wash and to apply it after you are finished with the first. The key to keeping things looking natural is to let things be a little random. Do not skip every 3rd brick, just take a step back once in awhile and see where variation is needed or not.
- That pretty much sums it up! Most of the time with a white-wash, the finish is meant to be a little variated and weathered so you do not typically need to apply a top coat. Once you are satisfied with the look you have created you can remove all your masking and enjoy!
2. Lime-Wash Stone or Brick Fireplace
Lime-Wash is a mineral based finish that has been around Waaaaaaay longer than white-wash; at least as far back as Ancient Egypt… but I remember when I was first looking into it, it seemed so much harder to get your hands on than modern latex paint. In fact, it is not so hard to find. Romabio’s Classico Limewash is a popular product if you are unsure! The advantages are actually pretty significant though! The first advantage being that with certain formulations; you can wash it off in the first 2 days if you are unhappy with the result. Another advantage is that the natural components of it are healthier for an indoor environment. You still don’t want to rub it in your eyes though. 😉 And also; those same natural components make it look more like natural stone!
Here is a video from Romabio about how to apply their Classico Limewash! https://youtu.be/Skq30SEWaYQ
Materials: Limewash, Plastic Mixing Bucket, Stir Stick, Spray Bottle, Rag, Masonry Brush, Small Brush, Painter’s Tape, Drop Cloth
Always Prep the brick or stone first, as described above!
1.Once again; you will use a separate plastic container to mix limewash with water. Start with a 50/50 ratio again, and if it is still too thick you can add more. You will want to mix this a little longer than the latex paint; 5-10 minutes until there is no standing water left.
2. Use the spray bottle to dampen the bricks before applying limewash! You do not want them to be dripping; just damp! Start at the top and work your way to the bottom, being sure to get a pretty solid coat on, and work in any runs as you work your way down.
3. Once complete; wait 10-30 minutes for it to dry before going back in to add distressing-if desired. It should be nearly dry, still a little damp, but definitely not dripping. Use the spray bottle and rags to spray off and wipe or blot away as much or as little as you want! Do this part 1-2 bricks at a time!
4. Use a smaller brush to get into any grout cracks or spaces missed and touch up any areas you aren’t satisfied with.
5. You have 5 days to decide if you like it or not and it can still be washed off if you are not happy with your work!
3. Masonry Stain on Stone or Brick Fireplace
Masonry Stain or Concrete Stain is an excellent way to change the tone of your fireplace. You can sometimes find it in semi-transparent if you are looking for a subtle difference. Concrete Stain is the option I personally chose for my fireplace, as I did not really want the distressed or weathered look with the warm tones showing through underneath like you get with the previous two methods. My fireplace had orange and pink stones (and grout) that I wanted to be gray. I went over to Home Depot and picked up a gallon of solid concrete stain that they tinted with the gray color I chose. My process is described below; but keep in mind that you can do other things!
Materials: Concrete Stain, Paint Brush (or sprayer), Textured Sponges, Small Mixing Containers (3-5), Painter’s Tape, Drop Cloths, Cardboard
Always Prep Surface First as described above!
1. Our fireplace is a monstrosity that takes up the entire wall. The stacked stones had some deep crevices to get to the grout in places, so we chose to spray our concrete stain onto the fireplace. Not everyone has a paint sprayer on hand, and it wasn’t necessary; it just simplified the first step for us! You want to get this covered well in one coat. The stones can only absorb so much stain before it starts to build up on the outside and will then develop a shinier appearance like paint. You just want enough for it to soak in and cover well!
2. Once the whole fireplace was a solid shade of gray, I began to mix up 4 different shades of latex paint-washes. (Just add water remember!) We had a lot of gray paints on hand (paint business and all) So I made a wash with the following Sherwin Williams Colors: Mineral Deposit, Colonial Revival Gray, and Alabaster. I also used our trim paint (Black Magic) and added a few drops of it to the Concrete Stain and turned that into a wash as well to add some darker tones. I did not measure anything precisely.
3. I went in with one shade at a time and tried my best to use random placement, and applied these “paint-washes” with some small art sponges I had left over from a different project. Before applying to the stone; I blotted most of the paint off onto a piece of cardboard so that it wouldn’t be too overpowering and the sponge was mostly dry. This worked pretty well to create a natural, multi-dimensional tone.
4. Once I felt like I had reached the look I was going for; I painted the mantle (which had already been stained as it is made of the same stone) with my darker shade by sponging it on.
5. The fun part about using paint-washes is how easy it is to get any shades you like! Just purchases sample sizes! I might have chosen slightly different shades if we didn’t have so many on hand, but I am very pleased with the result, and I really had a fun time with this project!
You could also add the variation with actual concrete stain that was tinted to different colors, and apply it much the same way. Good luck finding sample sizes though! At least if your base is a stain, then even if some of your paint-based dimension gets worn off; the underneath will still be stained and not orange brick!
4. German Schmear on Brick Fireplace
This is a very similar process; except instead of using a paint, you use mortar! This creates a very old world-cottagey look, but it easily blends with modern design. Some people like to seal the brick the day before applying mortar (After prepping the surface of course!) to prevent any tones or warmth from bleeding through, although this is not necessary. I am not sure this would work as well on a stone fireplace, but I am sure someone out there has tried and failed!..I mean succeeded! 😉
Materials: Mortar (Pre-Mixed will be easier), Painter’s Tape, Brown Builder’s Paper, Piping Bag (Ziplock), Putty Knife, Sponge, Rag
1.While you CAN just use drywall tools such as joint knives or metal scrapers; it is Easier to put your mortar in a ziplock bag with the corner cut off- or piping bag- and begin filling the grout lines with the mortar. Do a small section, about 1-2 feet at a time. You want there to be a little bit of excess.
2. Take your putty knife (some people prefer spatulas or even just a gloved hand) and begin to schmear! This method isn’t about being precise. You want some bricks to be more covered than others, and you want to smear in different directions. If you need more mortar than what was in your grout, simply put it on your putty knife and slap dat… to the wall…
3. If you have way more mortar than you want in an area, scrape it off and use the excess somewhere else. If you just want to wipe away small portions of mortar to create some contrast and variation; use a damp sponge!
4. As with the other methods; this is about Your personal preference. Take a step back every once in awhile and add or remove mortar as you see fit!
5. Once complete, all you have to do is let it dry!
5. Paint on Stone or Brick Fireplace
Many people simply opt to paint their fireplace the same color as the wall. This is a good option if you don’t really want your fireplace to be the main focal point of the room. It is still going to stand out, but maybe less than before. If you want to paint your fireplace a solid color that is not necessarily the same as your walls though; I highly recommend using concrete stain (See Option 3) instead of paint, as it absorbs into the stone and will not chip or scratch like paint can.
Since all that is required for painting a fireplace is to clean the surface and just paint it, I am going to give directions for what you can do if your fireplace is already painted a solid color and you want to give it more natural character again!
Materials: Painters Tape, Drop Cloth, Sponges, Cardboard, Mixing Containers
1.If you have Bricks; cut a large sponge to be the size of your brick so that it won’t get into your grout lines. If you have Stones; I suggest using smaller natural texture sponges.
2.Mix up as many colors as desired in separate containers (I recommend about 3). For this wash; I would use 75% paint to 25% water.
3. Lightly place your sponge into the mixture and then dab it onto a piece of carboard until it is no longer runny. Then move to the stone and sponge it on. Start light; you can always go back and add a little more here or there.
4. I suggest using one main color on every brick at least a little to tie everything together. Then use the other colors as accents if desired.
5. Try to step back once in awhile and make sure you are keeping things a little random and not too precise! As with all the other methods; continue until you are satisfied with the result! In this case; your fireplace has already been painted so you have Nothing to lose! If you dislike it; simply paint it back!
Thanks for Reading!
I hope this helps you feel confident that you can revitalize your fireplace, and that you know which method will work best for what you want! There is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming! There are professionals out there who will do this type of job; but they are not always easy to find! Hopefully this will at least help you know what method you’re looking for even if you don’t plan on doing it yourself!