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Kelly, some fireplaces look great painted. The big issue most people have, including myself is
I see people all the time painting the outside brick on their homes, although a completely different animal then a indoor fireplace, they quite frankly destroy the ability of the brick to breath and allow for trapped moisture that gets behind the brick to ventilate out and spalling is oftentimes the result. Of course this should never happen to a indoor fireplace but once done, you really can never go back again.
Paint is a quick relatively inexpensive, but have you considered taking it up a notch with tile overlay? some marble, granite, or slate could give it a completely new look.
If you have your heart set on painting (which seems apparent from this thread) got for it. Having it "sprayed" will give the best result. A good cleaning will ensure the paint will adhere properly , keep in mind the final results are only as good as the prep.
Here is an article I wrote on Networx about good prep.
On the topic of getting hot, you stated that there is a wood stove insert in the opening. Has the brick face surround been checked by a professional chimney person? If your experiencing the heat
The brick should not be in direct contact with the wood framing at all. Heat that can be generated by an insert can travel through the brick face and cause charring of the framing members within the wall. As wood chars so does its ability to ignite into flame.
Also a proper wood stove insert should not be conveying any heat back towards the wall surface. Its very design is that to deliver the radiant heat out and away from the wall.
I would suggest that you check on the installation and underwriters laboratories approval for this appliance to be sure your not risking your home due to fire.
The purpose of the brick face is to eliminate any materials that are prone to combustion next to the fire box. The brick if done correctly should be kept about one inch away from any combustible materials unless the entire structure is make of cement, brick and blocks. When free standing wood stoves are installed and a brick wall is constructed to act as a heat shield codes require a one inch air gap between the back of the bricks and the wall. Not all fireplace fronts that have inserts installed meet these requirements.
For your safety, please check this out. We want you to be around for some future questions.
I am glad you had this issue addressed. I cannot tell you how many homeowners do not do this and they suffer damaging results because of this.
If the heat is rising up and washing on the front of the brick, have you thought of having a
Thanks Paul, oil base it is!
As an owner of a insert with a blower and a pair of free standing stoves ( one in the bedroom and one at our cabin ) the heat output from a free standing stove is much bigger. We also burn a lot of wood (5 -6 cords) a season. I wish we had our insert as a freestanding. The reason I installed a freestanding in our bedroom is we often get power outages...without power the insert is pretty worthless (no blower). When the power is out we can keep that part of the hosue very comforatble even when it is well below zero. The quiet of a free standing is another benefit...that blower can be annoying some times.
A few years back I converted a fireplace insert for a client into a freestanding in an alcove...this alcove was skinned in black granite. The freestanding soapstove stove here + the 100's of pounds of IR absorbing thermal mass made for a great install.