Massive Brick Fireplace Wall Whitewash/ White Wash Success

5 Materials
6 Hours

I am not a spontaneous person, never one to jump on-board a new fad, rather with an eclectic style (or lack of) of my own. This really large room is about 20 x 20 and for years this brick wall was an unwanted "feature" to be dealt with.

The following transformation that has taken years as you can see thru the many changes of decor.

This was a massive fireplace floor to ceiling brick and side walls more of the same, sucked the light out of the entire room. Adding to the darkness was the rough cut cedar ceiling you can see at the top. Over the years I had tried adding mirror panels to both wall sides to bring light into the area. It did did reflect reflect light but I did not like seeing everything what was reflected in the mirrors: failure.

After the mirror failure we decided to paint the dark vaulted wood ceiling white, you can glimpse at the top which was a definite improvement but still that massive dark wall. Notice the large amount of space (about 6 X 6) trapped by the picture wall and the huge hearth another problem.

We had decided to remove a small wall between the room and hall for a more open feel. The shortened hallway was definitely brighter, but the overpowering dark brick wall was still there: UGH. The hearth still obstructing the newly opened area so we decided it had to go as well.

Naturally there is always more than just taking down the wall. As you can see in the top of the photo we had to restructure what had been hall area into the vaulted room and moving electrical wiring too.

The elevated hearth was removed exposing the concrete floor. We decided on a very simple marble tile for the ground lever "hearth".

Now it was decision time what to do with the original and remaining problem the dark wall. We considered ship-lapping only the fireplace above below entire, covering both sides with drywall or ship-lap, all requiring furring strips to be attached to the brick so no turning back. I have a friend is a graphic genius and she presented multiple visuals which all appeared trendy: not me.

After seeing what others had done with whitewash I decided to give it a try, the price was definitely right!

And so it began with several sample size cans of white/off white paints I had on hand, a 5-gallon bucket and water, large paint brush and drop cloths even though were were replacing the carpet I began. The change was concerning but I continued, i couldn't leave it like this for sure.

Technique was simple mix paint and water probably 1-3, it is watery.

Started at the top and worked down in the area I could reach before moving the ladder (about 3 X 4 foot) Painted the grout lines first and then the brick faces and slopping up any runs as I went. I did not wipe off any paint as I went nor go back and do any distressing.

I don't think there is a right or wrong way, just do it.

After about 5-6 hours including a few breaks it was done.

At last let there be light!

It took a week of so to get use to but after almost 20 years, it's done.

ceiling painted light

useless wing wall gone

ceiling repaired

new fireplace screen

and a bright light wall.

Suggested materials:

  • Several sample size paints white/off white  (HD "oops" paint clearance rack)
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Water
See all materials

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Ker24869904
    on Sep 27, 2018

    Looks awesome. How did you remove the unwanted brick on the floor?

    • J Brown
      J Brown
      on Sep 27, 2018

      We were happy to discover that the brick hearth had a cinder-block frame/foundation with the bricks laid on the top and around the sides. There was some mortar on the floor, were able to chizzle it up pretty easy. Making it mush easier to demo than had it been solid concrete. A few good slams with a sledge hammer made quick work of it.

      Where the hearth met the wall the bricks interlocked perpendicularly into the wall under the firebox and had to be removed, think you can see those broken edges in one of the photos. We kept several of the demoed bricks to repair that area having them cut in half to fit. They were set in mortar with the original edge facing out. You can see under the firebox the where the hearth had been they had not given the wall bricks the nice grout line finish since it was going to to be seen

Join the conversation

2 of 5 comments
  • Teri Wheeler
    Teri Wheeler
    on Aug 28, 2018

    It is beautiful, I plan on doing our family room fireplace, and thank goodness it is not as large as yours, great job you did

  • Kelley843
    on Aug 29, 2018

    Looks great, it makes the room look so much brighter and larger. I bet it took two weeks to get used to the white paint, lol

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