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how to paint a brick fireplace white

How To Paint A Brick Fireplace White

Learning how to paint a brick fireplace white is a great way to transform old brick into something fresh, clean and modern. And it’s not that hard to do if you know how. Making sure the bricks and mortar joints are really clean is your first step. You don’t want to paint over dirt, dust or grime because it gets locked in by the paint. Next you’ll need to repair any damaged brick and mortar because that will get locked in too if you don’t. Then mask off areas you don’t want white with painters tape. Once your done masking, I recommend priming the bricks, it’ll make painting them easier. Finally paint your bricks white. Make sure you use a white paint that’s approved for use on brick or masonry.

Keep in mind painting a brick fireplace white is a permanent change so make sure it’s something you definitely want to do. I love the look and recommend it, but it’s not right for every fireplace. Some time the classic look of red brick works better. It really depends on the style of your house. But most of the time I like the clean, bright and modern feel of white.

Painting brick can be scary if you’ve never done it before, but don’t worry, it’s easy to do. Ahead we’ll go through each step in detail with some tips and tricks.

Choose The Right Paint

Painting brick isn’t the same as painting a flat wall. Since your painting inside fireplace brick you can get away with using any latex paint. But I still recommend using a white paint that’s made for brick and other masonry products. It’s specially formulated to adhere to the brick so you’ll get better coverage.

Choosing the right shade of white can be harder than you may think. I like Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams colors but any brand can work if you like the color. Just pay attention to the other colors in the house. Especially if your using other whites. Keep the temperature consistent. Some white is warm and some is cool. Some has a bit of cream in it and some more blue or gray. Get swabs and compare the white to the rest of your house colors just as you would when painting a wall.

Make sure to get a good quality primer and all your other supplies ready. What you’ll typically need are:

  • Painters tape for masking.
  • Brushes and roller. I like to use a big brush for the joints and a very small one for pores.
  • A paint sprayer. I love using a paint sprayer for brick.
  • Tarp. A good tarp comes in handy for any paint job.
  • Sticks. For mixing the paint and primer.
  • Cleaning brush. For scrubbing the brick.
  • A bucket for some soap and water.
  • Commercial cleaner if soap and water isn’t strong enough.

That’s it. Once you’ve got the supplies you need go ahead and start painting that brick fireplace white.

Step 1: Clean Your Brick Fireplace & Mortar

It doesn’t matter how old your brick fireplace is, before you paint it make sure to clean the bricks and mortar. Even a brand new fireplace can have some dust built up on the surface. Clean the brick thoroughly before applying any paint or primer. If there is a layer of dust and dirt on the brick, paint won’t stick to it properly. The dust will actually mix in with the paint and could eventually cause it to flake off or crack.

Cleaning new brick is easy but older brick is a little harder. Brick and mortar are both porous so dirt can build up over time. Especially if your fireplace is wood burning because there could be soot. When you clean old brick try and clean into the pores as best you can and not just the surface layer.

Use soapy water and a bristled brush first. Scrub the entire brick surface. Adjust the pressure you use and how hard the brush is based on the condition of your brick. If your fireplace has older brick that may be brittle use a softer brush and less pressure. But if the brick and mortar are strong you can use more force and a harder brush.

Cleaning the brick fireplace before you paint it white is essential and the most labor intensive part of the project. A little elbow grease goes a long way. But it’s a very important step so take your time and make sure you do it right.

If soap and water doesn’t work you can try a store bought masonry cleaner. They’re stronger and typically contain some acids. Once your done I would rinse the surface off with soap and water. Acid residue can damage the paint.

Step 2: Repair Cracked Brick & Mortar

The next step is to inspect and repair the brick and mortar for damage. It’s an important step, especially if your painting an older fireplace white, because if you don’t make repairs before you paint it’ll be too late.

For small cracks use a tube of mortar repair. It’s a cement-like material that has the same texture as mortar and is applied using a caulk gun. You can find it in the masonry aisle at Home Depot or Lowes. Don’t worry if the color doesn’t match your existing mortar exactly because your painting it white.

For medium to large cracks, mix a small bucket of cement. Trowel the cement into the cracked areas as needed.

If you have damaged brick you can either fill in the cracks or remove the bricks and replace them with new ones. Don’t worry if the new bricks don’t match the old ones exactly because you’ll be painting them.

This stage is also the time to make style changes with the mortar if you want to. A look that’s very popular right now is using thick grout lines. In the past, most brick was applied with a very thin mortar that curved inward. If you like the look of a thicker grout that’s smooth with the edge of the brick or even comes out some then now’s the time to make the change.

Once your done with the repair work wipe down the bricks one last time. Masonry work tends to bring dust with it so get that off the brick as much as you can.

Step 3: Mask

Masking off areas you don’t want paint is an important step in any paint job.

The idea is to paint your bricks white but not the firebox, mantle or surrounding walls. I recommend using a good quality painters tape like Frog Tape. It’s green and found in the paint aisle pretty much anywhere you can buy paint. There are also some really good blue painters tapes on the market. Simply tape anywhere you don’t want paint.

The reason I like painters tape is because the edge is cleaner when you remove the tape. Other forms of tape lets paint bleed in at he edges.

Press down on the edges of the tape so there’s a good seal between the surface and paint. If there are gaps then the paint can seep in.

It can be hard to mask around uneven surface but do the best you can.

Once all your bricks are painted, remove the tape carefully so you don’t tear at the new paint.

Step 4: Prime

Priming the fireplace brick before you paint is an optional step but I like to do it. Most masonry paints have primer built in but I’ve always found the finished product to be better when I prime first.

Priming is just like painting. I like to apply a thin coat over all the bricks. Take a brush and dab paint into all the pores. You don’t need thick coverage, just a good coat over all the brick. One coat is typically enough but sometimes two is needed. It all depends on the condition of the brick and how even the surface is.

You can use a roller and brush to prime brick, but I like to use a paint sprayer. It will save you time and makes it much easier to get paint into all the small brick pores.

Remember, when painting or priming, use thin coats. Don’t spray, roll or brush the primer on thick.

Step 4: Apply Paint

Once your priming is done and completely dry, it’s time to apply the white paint.

I recommend using a paint sprayer here too. But if you don’t have one, a roller and brush will work fine. Use a roller for the big areas and a brush to paint spots the roller didn’t get. This typically includes the brick joints and small pores. Rollers are great for large flat areas but not for uneven surfaces.

Apply as many thin coats as needed until you achieve the look you want. Make sure to let every coat dry before putting on the next. And keep the coats thin. It’s tempting to rush through a paint job by applying more paint but resist. Keep the paint coats thin.

Pro Tip: If you need to take a break while painting there’s no need to wash the brushes or waste a roller. Simply wrap them tightly in a plastic bag. This keep the moisture in and prevents the brush/roller from drying up and getting hard. I’ve left wrapped wet rollers and brushes overnight lots of times and in the morning they were always moist and ready to go.

Step 5: Cleanup

The last step in the process is cleanup and unmasking.

Remove all the tape slowly and carefully. You don’t want to damage the paint as you tear the tape off. If you do, use a small brush to do touch ups.

Clean up all your supplies last.

Gallery

Here are a few pictures of brick fireplaces painted white that I really like. Maybe they’ll inspire you to do something similar in your home.

Red brick fireplace painted white with thick wood mantle.

Red brick fireplace painted white with thick wood mantle.

Brick fireplace painted white with shiplap.

Brick fireplace painted white with shiplap.

Summary: How To Paint A Brick Fireplace White

Learning how to paint a brick fireplace white is a great way to transform old brick into something fresh, clean and modern. And it’s not that hard to do if you know how. Making sure the bricks and mortar joints are really clean is your first step. You don’t want to paint over dirt, dust or grime because it gets locked in by the paint. Next you’ll need to repair any damaged brick and mortar because that will get locked in too if you don’t. Then mask off areas you don’t want white with painters tape. Once your done masking, I recommend priming the bricks, it’ll make painting them easier. Finally paint your bricks white. Make sure you use a white paint that’s approved for use on brick or masonry.

Keep in mind painting a brick fireplace white is a permanent change so make sure it’s something you definitely want to do. I love the look and recommend it, but it’s not right for every fireplace. Some time the classic look of red brick works better. It really depends on the style of your house. But most of the time I like the clean, bright and modern feel of white.

Painting brick can be scary if you’ve never done it before, but don’t worry, it’s easy to do.

If you have any questions or comments about painting brick E-mail any time.

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