How can I revive an interior brick chimney?


Just moved into a rental that has a brick chimney in the kitchen. I love it and plan to decorate with that things that will accent and utilize the brick red colors. How can I clean and revitalize the brick itself? I don't want to paint, unless I have to, I just want to bring it back to a cleaner red look. The mortar is good.

q how can i revive a interior brick chimney
q how can i revive a interior brick chimney
q how can i revive a interior brick chimney
  19 answers
  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Mar 02, 2021

    Hi Robin, most of the homes here in South Africa are brick and I normally use a hard bristle brush and a mixture of white vinegar and water to scrub the bricks. It works really well. If the stains are tough you can get an acid-based cleaner. It's quite smelly, so I'd use that as a last resort. Once clean you can seal the bricks with a sealer. Matt, Satin, or Gloss will all work depending on the look you're going for.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 02, 2021

    Here are some suggestions that may work for you, love the chimney:

  • Mix vinegar and water (50/50) in a spray bottle. Spray it on the chimney and use an old sponge or rag to clean it.

  • I've used vinegar and water, spray it on and then scrub with a stiff brush. Works well.

  • Em Em on Mar 02, 2021

    Clean with any cleaner and a wire brush. If it is a rental you better not paint without permission. Put a tarp below to catch fragments and water. If you want to hang things in front of it without ruining mortar or brick you could add a wood frame in front of it from the ground up the sides attached to the baseboard of far backside attached to a cross piece to the front so you can hang or nail anything to it and remove it when you need to.

    All you would have to repair is the screw holes into the baseboard. Fill and repaint and done.

  • Janice Janice on Mar 02, 2021

    I agree with the vinegr/water mixture to clean the chimney. Be sure to get your landlord's permission (in writing) before doing any additional changes to the fireplace. They may not want the fireplace painted!

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 02, 2021

    Hi! Unfortunately with a rental you are limited in what you can change. Beyond cleaning it, I wouldn't change anything without written permission. I used to be a landlord, and although I'm sure most people mean well, the helpful things they do to "spruce" things up can be a real headache correcting or fixing by the party who owns the property. Work with what you have, unless you have permission.

  • William William on Mar 02, 2021

    The mortar is fair. Looks like you have efflorescence there. That is caused by moisture reacting with the salts in the mortar. A 50/50 mix of vinegar and water will remove it. You will need a stiff brush or wire brush to scrub it off. If it comes back over time there is a moisture problem with the chimney.

  • Betsy Betsy on Mar 02, 2021

    Hi Robin: After you check with your landlord to see if you can do this (get a yes in writing and check if you have to put it back like it is). You may be able to spray it with WD40, let it soak in a bit and then wipe. Or, Citristrip should work. Then again, check these sites:

    Good luck

  • Dee Dee on Mar 02, 2021

    I have used Purple Power Cleaner degreaser on my brick fireplace and it came out beautiful.. You must scrub with a stiff brush, and then rinse well. You could put a concrete sealer over the brick when finished cleaning.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 04, 2021


    You could use an acid for cleaning brick, or maybe try Soapy water and a scrubbing brush. If it were me with the problem, I would use the colour emulsion (Chalk Paint) I wanted the bricks to look and using the side of a sponge dab the paint on where I wanted it to be. Let it dry and maybe go again if necessary!

  • Sharon Sharon on Mar 05, 2021

    A stiff wire brush is what we always used, or you could get a wire brush attachment for your drill to clean it up.

    Then we added a water-based poly top coat with a large bristle brush.

    If you want to add a bit more color to the brick you can use mason's stain, but I would first poly the mortar so you don't stain it.

  • Annie Annie on Mar 05, 2021

    Heres a few more simple ideas,

  • Absolutely check with your landlord first before you consider doing anything. Be sure to discuss any and all cleaners/solutions etc you plan to use and put it all in writing so none of this comes back to haunt you if they change their mind about your work. They may not want you to do anything.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Mar 06, 2021

    Hello. I don’t know if this is something that you could appreciate but my 1973 basement brick fireplace had all kinds of sloppy paint drips and edge brush marks and mortar present.

    I took water base Walmart Apple Batrel acrylic paints and custom color the bricks to clean up all the unevenness and mortar in acrylic and white paint from a sloppy paint job.

    Additionally the previous homeowner painted the top two rows of brick white. I eliminated one of these rows returning to the bricks to the multi color pattern.I was very pleased with the results.

    This may be something you might wish to consider.

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Mar 06, 2021

    Sand blast it, home depot rents them

  • Jim Jackson Jim Jackson on Mar 13, 2021

    Hello, all of these answers are good ones to bring back a fireplace that was meant to be seen. Not all bricks in a structure were originally meant to be seen. These bricks may have been plastered over and that was the original intent. I would clean it a little bit, and just enjoy it for its rustic appearance as it is. You are never going to get it to look like the finished wall that is meant to be seen.