Our living room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, and our fireplace just made it seem even darker. The bricks had been coated in a glossy polyurethane, which meant I could not white wash them, and would need a bonding primer to make sure my finish didn’t chip off.
Fireplace Facelift Using Paint
Our fireplace looked dark and dingy, so I brightened it up with my favorite home makeover product... PAINT!
In addition to primer, I also used a rag, chip brush, and three shades of gray paint that I already had. If you want the bricks to look natural, you want different shades and undertones to mimic the natural variation of stone. I recommend a light, medium and dark. You can buy small latex paint samples or craft store acrylic for this.
First step was dismantling the mantle. 😆 We wanted to reuse it, so we were careful not to damage anything while taking it apart. Next, I primed everything with a high-quality bonding primer. The particular one I used (Zinsser Bonding Primer) is no longer sold, but any primer that says “high-adhesion” or that it bonds to glossy surfaces should work if your bricks have been clear-coated.
I wanted my grout to be white, but if you want your grout a different color, paint it now and be prepared to touch it up later.
(At first I tried the brick-painting-method where you cut a sponge to the same size as your bricks, lightly dab it in paint and gently press it onto your bricks. I HATED how it was turning out! It didn’t look terrible from a distance, but up close it looked incredibly fake. So I re-primed those bricks and had to come up with something else.)
Lightly dampen your rag before you begin.
This is where it gets really technical. With your chip brush, dab a small bit of one of your colors on a brick, and smoosh it around with your rag. See, technical. 😆
You don’t want the paint to be super thick or uniform, and you want to use the multiple colors at random. Some bricks will have one color on it, some will have two or three. Eventually your rag should have enough paint on it that you can wipe it around on some bricks without adding more paint first. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy with your paint smooshing. You also want to make sure you get the exposed sides of the bricks to help it look realistic.
When you are all done with the bricks, take a small craft brush and touch up your grout lines. I also chose to update the brass on the doors using some high heat silver paint. The doors wouldn’t come off, so I protected everything around the brass with tape and newspaper.
-This brick painting method will only work on the EXTERIOR portion of your fireplace that does not get direct exposure to heat. To paint the inside of your fireplace, you must use high-heat approved paint.
-Also, if you plan on sitting directly on your painted bricks frequently, or expect them to get a lot of wear and tear, I would recommend some sort of protective coat. We use a hearth cover when we aren’t using the fireplace because of our young kids and to make it more comfortable to sit on, so I did not coat our bricks with anything.
We painted the mantel white and reassembled it, and VOILA!
It has been over four years and the bricks still look as good as the day I painted them, and our room seems so much more light and modern now.
*I already had all of the materials for this project, but here is a breakdown if you have to buy everything:
-Quart of bonding primer ($10-15)
-Paints ($1-$2 for each small container or sample)
-chip brush ($.50)
So for around $20 your fireplace can have a makeover! Obviously, if you have more bricks to do, you will need more paint and primer.